Citi Bike, New York City’s bike share program, launched in 2013. For the first couple of years, the bikes and docking stations were placed only in lower Manhattan and a small area of Brooklyn.
Alexis Harrison says that sent a signal that “this resource was primarily here for, you know, white young professionals commuting to their … Wall Street jobs.”
Harrison is with the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a nonprofit in Bed-Stuy, a historically Black Brooklyn neighborhood.
She says when Citi Bike later expanded into Bed-Stuy, many longtime residents were not supportive, because they felt the program was not for them.
But biking is good for people’s health, reduces pollution, and is affordable.
So Harrison’s group worked to get more people of color on bikes. They organized block parties and community bike rides in Bed-Stuy to get people involved.
“Our deep engagement work really did help increase Citi Bike participation,” Harrison says.
And they helped establish a citywide discount for people who receive federal food benefits.
But she says there’s still work to be done to build a biking culture that’s open and available for all.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media