Just a few days later, news broke that the Department of Transportation would be shutting down several dockless bike-sharing services throughout Queens and Brooklyn by the end of summer.
In Rockaway, this would mean the loss of the signature green-and-yellow Lime Bikes that have dotted the peninsula since July 2018.
For residents just getting used to the bikes, the news was not received well.
“The Rockaways potentially losing Lime Bike would be such a devastating loss and a huge slap in the face to Southeast Queens, especially after Citi Bike has failed to expand to this part of the City,” said Milan Taylor, executive director of the Rockaway Youth Task Force.
The loss is exacerbated by the peninsula being a “transportation desert.”
“We don’t have very reliable bus service, and having access to Lime Bike has definitely increased transportation options for residents,” Taylor said.
In May, Lime announced it would renew its contract in Rockaway until September and increase its bike fleet from 400 to 600. The DOT would allow Lime to complete its contract.
Councilman Donovan Richards said he has seen the benefits of Lime on the area.
“When it comes to our transit options, the one thing Rockaway residents can count on is disruptions,” Richards said. “Which is why the bike share program has served so many people regardless of whether they are heading to the beach, back home to public housing, or just need to take a quick trip to the bank.”
Since debuting, Lime has provided tens of thousands of rides on its bikes.
“I can certainly say that the eastern end of the Rockaway peninsula has benefitted from Lime Bike the most,” Taylor said. “These are households where a lot of folks don’t have access to cars.”
Lime has not just helped people get to work; it has also allowed them to work. Some delivery workers have used Lime to complete their orders for UberEats, saving them on the costs of purchasing and maintaining a bicycle.
“Lime bikes are actually providing residents with jobs and opportunities that they otherwise would not have,” Taylor said.
Taylor said Rockaway would benefit more from dockless bikes than Citi Bike’s docking system.
“The Rockaway peninsula is a very narrow, small place,” he said. “You can literally find a Lime bike on every corner, hop on, hop off, and go on with your day.”
Aside from dockless bikes being more widespread than docked bike services, they do not require parking spaces to be removed for dock installation, which has been a criticism of Citi Bike.
The Citi Bike would double Citi Bike’s service area to 70 square miles and triple the number of bikes to 40,000 by 2023.
The Bronx will be receiving its first-ever Citi Bikes, while Manhattan will have docks that stretch the entire island, from Battery Park to Inwood.
In Brooklyn, the bikes will move past communities near the East River and reach areas of Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, Sunset Park, and Kensington.
Queens will see new bikes in areas like Sunnyside, Maspeth, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Corona, in addition to existing docks in Long Island City and Astoria.
“I’m pleased to see Citi Bike expanding and particularly gratified to see Sunnyside/Woodside included in this next round,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose Sunnyside office is 18 blocks from the nearest Citi Bike dock. “The cycling community in Western Queens is already strong and growing, and all New Yorkers deserve greener, safer, and more affordable transportation alternatives.”
Lyft, Citi Bike’s parent company, allows people to rent bikes through its app. And ridership has been at an all-time high, with over 86,000 trips being completed in a single day this past June.
But while officials in communities on the receiving end of the Citi Bike expansions celebrate, the mood is different in Rockaway.
“This would just be such an incredible loss to the community, and I really, truly hope the powers that be reconsider Lime Bike staying in the Rockaways, because it’s been such a bolster to the community,” Taylor said.
Richards offered hope, saying, “Our office is committed to working with the Department of Transportation and Lime to ensure that this critical new mode of transit stays in the Rockaways for good.”