Council Member Van Bramer & Western Queens Leaders: “We Want Bike Share!”

As New York City’s new Bike-Share network, CitiBike, has taken off, attracting over 36,000 members and nearly 200,000 rides in just two weeks, other portions of the five boroughs have yet to be integrated into the “City-wide” initiative.

On June 13th, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer rallied with leaders of Western Queens’ cultural, civic and business sectors to call for the expansion of CitiBike into Long Island City as well as other neighborhoods of Western Queens in an effort to provide residents with an alternate mode of transportation.

“Western Queens has become one of New York City’s hottest destinations,” said Council Member Van Bramer. “The inclusion, and an eventual expansion, of the CitiBike program in Western Queens will give millions more of New Yorkers as well as tourists, both domestic and foreign, an exciting and healthy viable transportation option to visit our growing small businesses, world renowned cultural venues, and thriving neighborhoods. Until Queens locations are included into the map we cannot call CitiBike a city-wide bike share program. Queens deserves its fair share of blue bikes and we are here to let it be known, “We want bike share!””

In recent years, Western Queens has become one of New York City’s most popular destinations due to the emerging status of its arts and cultural venues, a booming hotel industry, and central proximity to Manhattan and Brooklyn. 

Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside sit in a central geographic position within New York City. Establishing CitiBike docking stations in Western Queens would provide neighborhood residents, a growing amount of tourists as well as all New Yorkers, with an alternative and more reliable transportation option as well as a healthier commute that is environmentally friendly.

At the press conference Council Member Van Bramer was joined by representatives from Community Board 2, LaGuardia Community College, the Dutch Kills Civic Association, Sunnyside Shines BID, Woodside on the Move, Long Island City Partnership, Transportation Alternatives, the New York League of Conservation of Voters, MoMA PS 1, Noguchi Museum, SculptureCenter, Socrates Sculpture Park, Recycle-A-Bicycle and LIC YMCA, who all cited the benefits of having CitiBike in Western Queens.

“By bringing the City’s bike share program to Queens we will not only provide Western Queens residents with a viable option to get to our facility but we will also be providing our members with an opportunity continue their efforts to stay fit,” said Ebony Conley-Young, Executive Director of the LIC YMCA. “Here at the LIC YMCA we share a commitment to promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility. CitiBike does just that in just one shot by providing New Yorkers with an environmentally friendly mode of transportation on a piece of equipment that helps make them stronger.”

“We would like to thank Councilman Van Bramer for moving the Bike Share program focus on Western Queens, considering that the Department of Transportation has made a significant investment in creating more bike lanes in our community,” said Joe Conley, Chair of Community Board 2. “The bike share program increases the easy access to bicycles and will further continue to enhance the quality of life in our neighborhoods. This bike share program encourages more bicycle use as an alternative to cars."

"At LaGuardia, we have over 20,000 credit students, and serve over 40,000 continuing education students,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College.  “If the Bike-Share program is extended to Long Island City, it will allow students better access throughout the neighborhood and allow them to take advantage of all there is to offer in this growing community."

"Woodside on the Move's recent Youth Festival had dozens of residents participating in a bike repair program so we know that there is an active biking culture in Woodside,” said Adrian Bordoni, Executive Director of Woodside on the Move. “Bikeshare will provide our families access to bikes for short rides to parks and attractions in Western Queens and will complement our healthy lifestyle goals for the community."

“Western Queens is an important connection in the Bike Share network with direct access to both Manhattan and Brooklyn,” said Gayle Baron, Executive Director of the LIC Partnership. “Expanding Bike Share to Long Island City would help encourage people from other neighborhoods and boroughs to visit and experience our vibrant neighborhood, and our many restaurants and cultural institutions. Bike Share in Long Island City would also be a great way for those who live and work in the neighborhood to explore the many amenities that Western Queens has to offer, which can otherwise feel like a considerable distance from one-another and from public transportation. “

“Bike share is a fantastic way to not only improve circulation among the world class cultural institutions in our area but also allow the new influx of tourists to better connect with all the aspects that make LIC one of the best places to visit in the city - the restaurants, bars, shops and hotels,” said Frederick Janka, Associate Director of SculptureCenter.

“Locals in Western Queens are clamoring for their share of bike share. Fortunately, they have a steadfast advocate in Council Member Van Bramer, who is working hard to give his constituents this much-needed transportation option. Bike share will also offer increased access to the many businesses and cultural attractions that have made Western Queens a destination for New Yorkers as well as visitors from all over the world,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.

Bike friendly businesses and local business improvement districts also joined the Council Member in calling for the installation of docking stations in Astoria and Sunnyside, citing benefits to small businesses and increased visibility of their shops.

"Bringing CitiBike to Astoria would absolutely change my business for the better,” said Mackenzie Farquer, Owner of SITE NYC in Astoria. “Currently my bike racks are filled on weekends with eager customers, and having better access to bikes will only help me grow. Astoria and LIC is such a large area, bringing better transportation to the neighborhood will help it seem more manageable and give my shop better visibility."

“We support Citibike and accompanying bike infrastructure all over New York City,” said Helen Ho of Recycle-A-Bicycle. “Recycle-A-Bicycle takes between 30-100 students on bike rides that begin and end in Long Island City, Queens every week in the summer. Bike share promotes more family riding to get parents on bikes with their kids for fun, exercise, neighborhood errands and transportation. Recycle-A-Bicycle is particularly excited to see bike share in Western Queens as we are dedicating extra resources in the neighborhood thanks to the Greening Western Queens Fund and Partnership for a Healthier NYC.” 

“I am very supportive of extending Bike Share into Sunnyside,” said Rachel Thieme, Executive Director of Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District. “Bike Share and other bike infrastructure is great for local businesses, and we would like to extend these economic benefits into Sunnyside’s commercial district.”

Last year, after working with the Department of Transportation, Council Member Van Bramer was able to secure 10 locations in Long Island City giving the borough of Queens the opportunity to be a part of the nation’s largest public bike share system. The Council Member’s efforts resulted in a community driven process and the borough’s first-ever Bike Forum, which generated supporters beyond neighborhoods in Western Queens. The effects of Hurricane Sandy damaged docking stations and bicycles which delayed the programs implementation in the borough.

(Photo taken by Bill Alatriste)