It is not news that Citi Bike, the bicycle-sharing program in New York, is not a perfect system, having come under fire repeatedly for failing to serve neighborhoods other than some of the city’s wealthiest. Even with last year’s expansion into Harlem, western Queens, and deeper into Brooklyn, Citi Bike remains a program that mostly caters to more glamorous areas of New York.
It does not have to be this way, and baseball can play a role in being a boon to New York at large. It’s such an easy move that it feels stupid that it has not already happened.
The program is Citi Bike. The Mets play at Citi Field. This should not be complicated.
Mets and Citi Bike teamed up for a promotion where fans could spot Mets-branded Citi Bikes, tag them online, and be entered to win various prizes. It’s just that those bikes would have been at least a few miles from the ballpark.
The expansion of Citi Bike to Astoria and Long Island City means that a bike-share station outside the ballpark would be within range of riders, well within the 45-minute time limit for using one bicycle. A bike ride from Astoria to the ballpark takes about half an hour, beating the subway most of the time from that neighborhood. That’s before you factor in the current state of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, whose woes make it not only possible, but sometimes an actual occurrence, for walking between Astoria and Corona to be faster.
This is not, however, just about giving residents of a couple of privileged Queens neighborhoods better access to baseball games. A ballpark Citi Bike stand should be the linchpin of the program’s expansion to a part of the city that can really use it.
By putting Citi Bike stations in and around Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, it would become much easier for residents of the surrounding neighborhoods to get to the subway, and easier for everyone in the city to access the New York Hall of Science, Queens Zoo, Queens Museum, and Queens Botanical Garden. Or people could just take a nice bike ride through a giant park. However people want to use the bikes, you can be sure that if they were at the park, they would be used, because that is what happens when the bikes show up, whether it’s outside of The Dakota or outside of the Queensbridge Houses.
Making a successful go of Citi Bike with a Mets tie-in should serve to spur growth of the program in other parts of the city, whether it’s lining Van Cortlandt Park with bicycles to open up the Bronx, or following the model of a Mets-Willets Point subway station/bike transfer point to provide greater access to transit for neighborhoods now just out of the subway’s reach, from Flatlands to Hollis to Eastchester.
As for the Mets, they would only be involved insofar as they’re the ones who have the Citi name on their stadium. If one of the bikes is out of order, that has nothing to do with them.