Bike-share backlash

As our Page 1 article in this week’s issue notes, a plan to show a movie by Community Board 2 on bike-share has been scrapped in favor of a large discussion forum on bike-share, and specifically the new bike-dock strips that have sprung up all over Downtown.

The movie — actually, reportedly two short films about bike-share in other countries — was to be accompanied by a presentation by two Department of Transportation officials who lead New York’s bike-share program, known as Citi Bike. But, like the plan for the movies, these D.O.T. officials have vanished, and unfortunately apparently may not attend the discussion tonight, Thurs., May 2, at P.S. 41, at 116 W. 11th St., starting at 6:30 p.m.

David Gruber, C.B. 2 chairperson, explained to us that the event’s change of format was made after the board’s office was “inundated with calls and concerns” from nearly 100 local residents about the size and placement of the new bike-share stations.

As a result, the venue was moved from an earlier N.Y.U. location with a 100-person capacity to the P.S. 41 auditorium, with space for 350 to 400 people.

Gruber, who will lead the forum, told us he’s perturbed that D.O.T. — as of our press time — was saying it would not send a representative to the meeting. So, Gruber will do his best to allow people to express their feelings, in hopes of reaching some solutions.

“It’s disappointing,” he told us late Wednesday afternoon. “As of right now, D.O.T.’s deciding not to come. I’m going to run the meeting — but I don’t have answers. I’m not D.O.T. Ask me the day after the meeting, and I may have answers.

“A lot of what we’re hearing is that people are O.K. with the bike-share program,” he explained, “but that they didn’t expect it to be this large or in these locations.”

In short, many folks feel blindsided by the long metallic strips of bike docks suddenly slapped down around the neighborhood.

“Certainly, people didn’t see the scale or the volume,” Gruber noted. “People are saying, ‘Can it be broken down into smaller units?’ ”

Clearly, the city is anticipating high demand for the new eco-friendly and affordable transportation alternative, and feels bike docks of a certain size are needed. We, for one, do eagerly look forward to using Citi Bike. Sure, there are issues to be ironed out — and, yes, some real safety concerns — but we’re hopeful it will be a great program.

And a lot of the bike stations actually do seem to be sited in good, appropriate spots. But, for example, in the case of bike stations bolted down in front of residential buildings, we certainly can understand people’s trepidation, to put it mildly.

“I get it, but it doesn’t have to be so many in one place,” Gruber said of the multi-bike stations, summing up many residents’ thinking.In short, he said of the reason for the forum, “People need to vent and they need to say what the problems are.”

Gruber has invited residents from neighboring Community Boards 3 and 4 to the forum, since similar concerns are shared across Downtown neighborhoods.

The main unease, he said, of bike-share is “where it starts to interfere with the flow of life. … In Europe, these bike-shares are integrated into the fabric of the city — not like these massive barricades.”

Again, we support bike-share. But many residents have concerns — many quite legitimate — about the siting and size of the bike stations. Thursday’s discussion hopefully will help steer us in the right direction to kick this program off on the right foot.

Let’s give bike-share a chance at least to start rolling. But D.O.T. must not hide from concerns about a program that will dramatically reshape — has already reshaped — our landscape.

The Villager encourages readers to share articles:

Comments are often moderated.

We appreciate your comments and ask that you keep to the subject at hand, refrain from use of profanity and maintain a respectful tone to both the subject at hand and other readers who also post here. We reserve the right to delete your comment.

10 Responses to Bike-share backlash

  1. The main unease, he said, of bike-share is “where it starts to interfere with the flow of life. … In Europe, these bike-shares are integrated into the fabric of the city — not like these massive barricades.”

    What? Has Gruber been to London? These things are everywhere! And unlike here they are bolted to the ground so they can't be moved without massive costs!

    In Paris, Velib stations line historic boulevards, taking up entire parking lanes along the curb.

    I don't think Gruber understands this at all.

    • Cyclists in European cities also obey traffic regulations which cyclists in NYC rarely do. That is the problem that should be resolved before moving on to new cycling initiatives.

      • I don’t understand that logic. Drivers kill hundreds and injure thousands every year. They break laws in many different ways, too. Do we not invest in roads and infrastructure for drivers because of this?

        I’m not saying I disagree with you and or that cyclists are angels. But if you build better infrastructure and you’ll get better behavior.

      • "Cyclists in European cities also obey traffic regulations which cyclists in NYC rarely do."

        Are we talking about wrong-way riding? In Europe, they've made it legal to ride against traffic in a bike. That's right, wrong-way riding is LEGAL in many European cities. So let's keep some perspective.

        • we are talking about speeding through red lights and yes, driving the wrong way. it is still against the law here so change the law if you think riding against traffic is ok. the argument that cars kill more is specious and a red herring…two wrongs do not make a right. i have been nearly hit by a bike more times than i can count in nyc and feel personally more endangered by cyclists than by cars…since my reflexes are unlikely to improve as i get older, my days are probably numbered. i also know far more people who have been hit by bikes and no one who has been hit by a car. when cyclists routinely obey rules, i and many others will feel far more sympathetic to cycling causes.

          • it is still against the law here so change the law if you think riding against traffic is ok.
            Ok, will you support changing the law too? Otherwise your comparison to the behavior of cyclists in London and Paris doesn't really make sense, right?

            the argument that cars kill more is specious and a red herring…two wrongs do not make a right.

            I don't think it's merely an "argument" I think it's a basic fact. Cars kill a lot of people and they especially kill the elderly.

            The more bikes on the road, the safer the road becomes for vulnerable street users including pedestrians and the elderly. It's counter-intuitive, meaning it's the opposite of what you'd assume. But this is what all the studies show.

          • One of the reasons you don't know anyone who was hit by a car but a lot of people who were hit by bikes is that the people who were hit by bikes lived to tell the tale.

  2. I'm curious: WAS THERE any public art going on in Petrosino Square BEFORE two bike racks got put there? If not, then bike share is GOOD for public art. Also, now that the racks are there, strangely there still is room for this woman to do her ten days of dancing.

  3. I've lived in New York for thirty years now, even during the heyday of bike messengers, and I've never been hit by a bike. Do you know what my secret is? I look where I'm going.

  4. Judith Chazen Walsh

    A bicyle rider going the wrong way on Bleecker St got hit by a cab in front of 3 WSV today
    Who will enforce laws already on the books for bikes?

    The current design of bike lanes on most blocks is unfair to cyclists, automobiles and pedestrians
    Bike Share wouild have been better received if DOT had offered a way to keep everyone safe

    Build it and they will be safe?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


+ 2 = five

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>