Citi Bike rolled into Queens for the first time on Wednesday following years of delays -- giving Long Island City residents an alternative to the No. 7 train, as well as a new way to travel to Brooklyn.
The first station opened in Long Island City on Center Boulevard, between Borden Avenue and 54th Avenue. It is near a waterfront park and the East River Ferry Terminal.
Eleven other Citi Bike stations will open this week, at locations such as the No. 7 train stop on Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue. They will stretch as far out as 31st Street and Thomson Avenue.
"We've been long awaiting the expansion in Queens," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, noting that more than 20 million rides have been taken on Citi Bike since its May 2013 launch.
Queens was originally supposed to be in the first phase of Citi Bike -- but the program suffered setbacks that ranged from Superstorm Sandy to operational snags.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said getting the first station was a three-year odyssey. "We kept just getting punted and punted down the field," he said.
The new bike stations could not replace the No. 7 train -- but would help riders as the MTA modernizes the line's signal system, an effort that can cause line shutdowns and delays, he added.
The Citi Bike expansion will also make it easier to travel the notoriously difficult route between northern Brooklyn and Queens.
"In the past, transportation was strictly east to west; more and more it's north to south," Van Bramer said.
More than 90 new stations will also be added this summer in Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Almost 50 will then be added to the Upper West Side and Upper East Side.
Riders also learned this week they will be able to use their membership keys in Jersey City, which is launching its own bike-share program in September.
That program will be separate from NYC Bike Share, which runs Citi Bike in New York. But the two bike shares will have the same name and parent company, Motivate.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. was livid on Wednesday that Citi Bike would be in Jersey City before the Bronx.
"It is deplorable that Citi Bike is expanding to New Jersey before the rest of the city," he said.
"My borough deserves better, as do the parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island that are not currently served by our city's official bike share program."
Motivate said they have a separate agreement with Jersey City's government, and that it was a different bike-share system.
"Today we launched the most ambitious bike share expansion in the world, which will double the size of Citi Bike and bring it to Harlem, Long Island City, Red Hook and many more neighborhoods," said spokeswoman Dani Simons in a statement.
"We don't want to stop there and hope that Citi Bikes in the Bronx will be possible in the future."