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Queens Chronicle

CitiBike kiosks will appear in Astoria

Gianaris says DOT will bring bicycle sharing to the area after LIC gets it

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:23 am, Thu Aug 22, 2013.

Bike share is coming to Astoria.

But, just as with Long Island City and Sunnyside, when it will arrive is an open question.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) announced last Thursday that through his efforts, the CitiBike rental program already underway in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn will be expanded to his neck of the woods too.

“CitiBike will be a great addition to Astoria, which has a growing cycling community and is already one of the most bike-friendly neighborhoods in the city,” Gianaris said. “Bike share will allow people to enjoy the neighborhood in a fun and healthy way and will help people more easily travel around western Queens, an area in dire need of better mass transit. I look forward to the day when all of western Queens will enjoy the benefits of CitiBike.”

Gianaris, an avid cyclist himself, said he had been pressing the Department of Transportation to include Astoria its plans, and said the agency agreed a couple of weeks ago.

“We made the case,” Gianaris said. “I think CitiBike works best in areas where mass transit exists. It’s easy to envision success when people who live east or west of the train can hop on a bike and get to the subway.”

CitiBike allows users to rent bicycles from any of its kiosks, using a credit card, and return them to the same location or any other. While it has been hailed by cyclists, alternative transportation advocates and environmentalists, others have criticized the siting of some of the bike storage units, claiming they restrict emergency access to buildings, reduce parking or are unsightly.

Gianaris said he envisions kiosks near each subway station in Astoria, and along certain main arteries such as 21st Street. And he said the DOT will determine where they will go in collaboration with members of the community.

A DOT spokesman declined to confirm that, however. Asked via email when CitiBike might get rolling in Astoria — as well as Long Island City and Sunnyside, which were already slated to receive it — and if the planning would include public meetings, spokesman Scott Gastel said, “As the [Gianaris] press release mentions, DOT will begin the planning process for Astoria’s future inclusion in the bike share system. No timetable has been set for this neighborhood or the others in Queens.”

Asked again if the public would be part of the planning, he declined to respond.

CitiBike’s establishment was first delayed by software problems and then damage to equipment caused by Hurricane Sandy. The first section of Queens that will get bike kiosks is Long Island City, and Gianaris said he hopes it will go there “before the weather turns cold so that Queens residents can enjoy the program other parts of the city have put to great use this summer.”

He declined to guess when Astoria and Sunnyside would see the blue bikes but wants it to be as soon as possible.

Welcome to the discussion.