Anger over bike sites in high gear at C.B. 2 forum

Photos by Tequila Minsky Carlo Giurdanella objected to the loss of his loading space.

Photos by Tequila Minsky
Carlo Giurdanella objected to the loss of his loading space.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |   More than 400 people — many of them indignant and fuming — turned out for a Community Board 2 forum last Thursday night on bike-share and, specifically, the siting of the new bike-share docking stations.

C.B. 2 Chairperson David Gruber opened the remarks by saying he was disappointed that, despite his invitations, the Department of Transportation had declined to send a representative to the meeting. He said people were caught off guard by the bike-share docks, which he slammed as “barricades.”

The board received more than 100 phone calls and e-mails about bike-share in the past couple of weeks, he said, “70 percent of them negative comments” about the new docking stations. But many people, while critical of the bike docks, aren’t against the whole bike-share program, he stressed.

“I think what people are upset about is the sheer volume, the size…,” Gruber said, as people in the audience shouted out, “Yes! Yes!” in agreement and applauded.

“It was done really in the most heavy-handed way possible,” he said to more applause.

Holding up a “Y.I.M.B.Y. – Yes In My Backyard” sign outside before the meeting, Ian Dutton, a former C.B. 2 member and bike-share advocate, maintained, “New York City’s streets were originally paved for bicycles.”

Alexandra Scott protested the loss of public art space in Petrosino Square.

Alexandra Scott protested the loss of public art space in Petrosino Square.

Stu Waldman of Bedford St. was one of the few who spoke in favor of the bike-share stations and the whole program.

“There’s no bike rack in front of my house — but I would love one to be put there,” he stated, “because then there wouldn’t be cars and trucks there. Our streets aren’t pristine now. Having bikes is a lot better than cars.”

Bike-share is “very effective in Paris,” added his wife, Livvie Mann.

But Deborah Stone of 175 W. 13th St. — which has a big bike-share station in front of it — retorted, “I don’t care what they do in Paris! I live in New York City!” sparking among the night’s biggest cheers.

One bike-share advocate — only about a handful spoke during the forum — explained that the docks are “modular” and easily movable.

As if one, many in the audience called out, “So move it!”

Her voice rising in fury, Marna Lawrence, a Nolita quality-of-life activist, blurted out, “Why did they decide to experiment with Downtown Manhattan?” as the audience roared its agreement.

“It’s unconscionable that they think they can get away with this — it’s not O.K.,” said Jerry Banu, president of the Perry St. Block Association.

Architect Stas Zakrzewski said, “They installed a 40-bike rack right outside our building at Renwick and Spring Sts. There’s no access to our building. I think it’s very interesting — whenever there is someone applying for a liquor license, there are signs up all over the neighborhood. Why don’t they do that for this? It’s too large — it needs to be well thought-out.”

Carlo Giurdanella of Bella Tile on E. 11th St. between First Avenue and Avenue A complained that one of the new bike docks had taken away his loading zone.

Former Councilmember Carol Greitzer said her daughter is a doctor living in London who rides the bike-share there everyday, but that the stations there are smaller, for only 10 to 20 bikes per location.

Singer/songwriter Jamie Bendell, a 175 W. 13th St. resident, protested, “These areas between the bike racks and the sidewalks will become new garbage pits. Will they ask our doormen to clean them?”

Standing in the back of the auditorium, Charlie McCorkell, owner of Bicycle Habitat on Lafayette St., commented disapprovingly, “Most people agree the greater good is bike-share, but nobody is willing to give up anything for it.”

“These are all rich white people,” a young man standing next to him remarked of all the naysayers.

Ian Dutton, right, shared a thought with fellow bike-share advocate Charles McCorkell, owner of Bicycle Habitat.

Ian Dutton, right, shared a thought with fellow bike-share advocate Charles McCorkell, owner of Bicycle Habitat.

Sean Sweeney, the director of the Soho Alliance, likened the placing of a bike rack on the spot where public art has been shown in tiny Petrosino Square to the Taliban’s infamously blowing up an enormous ancient Buddha cliff carving.

“D.O.T. [the Department of Transportation] should be called the Department of Taliban,” he spewed angrily.

Glen Gaylinn, who owns Dog Wash on MacDougal St., said the new bike station on the block already stinks because dogs have been peeing on the curb next to it and the pee is seeping under it.

“It smells horrible,” he said, “rotting urine, uric acid.”

“You have depreciated my property value,” said Dorothy Sluska of Barrow St. “People spend a lot of money to live in the West Village.”

Sugar Barry of 10th St. said two potted plants on the street “that we paid for” just disappeared when the bike-station on her block was put in.

Attorney Jeffrey Barr of 99 Bank St. has filed two lawsuits — one against the city and the other against Citibank, the bike-share’s sponsor — on behalf of his 100-unit building.

The purpose of the litigation, he said, is simple: “We just want you to go there, see it with your own eyes, see how ridiculous it is, and move it.”

The city has so far responded by removing the part of the bike station that was right in front of the Bank St. building’s entrance. Barr has said he may soon be representing more buildings in lawsuits over bike docks. The suits argue that the bike-share will cause people to ride on the sidewalk — because Bank St. is cobblestoned — and also cause the cyclists to cluster under the building’s awning when it rains, among other things.

But Steve Vaccaro, an attorney who represents cyclists and pedestrians who have been in accidents and who is a cycling advocate, said that the Citi Bikes will have wide, so-called “balloon” tires and so will offer a “comfy ride” over the cobblestones.

As for the awning complaint, he said dismissively, “If one more person stands under the awning when it rains — please, this is New York.”

“Bringing in new street fixtures, there are going to be issues about what fits, where things fit,” he said. “Every square foot and every square inch of Manhattan is claimed by at least one person.

“At this point, bike-share is starting in two or three weeks. Let’s put the bike stations in and see what works and what doesn’t work,” Vaccaro said. “D.O.T. has shown a willingness to adjust — they’ve adjusted the 99 Bank St. station.

“This is part of the city’s transportation structure,” he said. “This is no gimmick or a passing fad — no more than a building can say, ‘We don’t want this bus station or this subway station on our street,’ or ‘We don’t want parking on our street.’

“One building cannot dictate the details of a citywide transportation system. If every building said, ‘We love bike-share but not on our block,’ you’d have no bike-share.”

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77 Responses to Anger over bike sites in high gear at C.B. 2 forum

  1. Lance StrongArmed

    "“New York City’s streets were originally paved for bicycles.”

    More lies and egocentrism from the cycling extremists: NYC streets were paved at least at least 200 years before the invention of the bicycle. Stone Street, a NYC HIstoric District, was the first paved street in 1658. Other streets soon followed.

    These propagandists never let the truth interfere with their agenda. Any wonder why they received so little support from the over-400 people at the community board meeting.

    • brooklynspoke

      Right. Which means they weren't paved for bicycles OR cars. Get 'em both off the streets if historic accuracy is so important.

      • LanceStrongArmed

        The streets were paved for horse carts, the automobiles of the time, and they were full of horse sh*t, which, coincidentally, so are the cycling extremists.

    • They meant asphalt paving, not sett-stone paving. And yes, in that context, it is true. The first asphalt-paved streets in NYC were created for the benefit of cyclists at the time. Cars were not prominent yet.

  2. of course the cowards from DOT didn't show up. They're not elected.

  3. Are these Citi Bike stations going to be removed for the winter, as they are in the Boston and Montreal bike share programs? If not, will the Department of Sanitation just let them pile up with snow and slush? All that salt will rust through the cables and drivetrains in no time.

    • Are these Citi Bike stations going to be removed for the winter, as they are in the Boston and Montreal bike share programs?

      These will be all seasons.

      Citibikes is responsible for maintaining the stations in the Winter time. So, they'll be the one's who have to keep them clean.
      See slide 11: http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/bikeshare/files/2012/0

      NYC Bike Share [is] responsible for cleanliness, routine bike maintenance, snow removal, redistribution

      If the stations and/or bikes get damaged, then that's on Citibikes. They're responsible. Not your doorman.

      Hubway in Boston is exploring Winter biking. Not sure if it'll happen but they are looking into it. Their winters tend to be a bit rougher than ours

      As for the rumors about making the Hubway year-round, for now, they’re just rumors. “We are looking at the feasibility and what it takes to be year round,” Freedman says. “We want to see is this something we can do and if it is, how do we make it work?” The decision, she says, will be made before next winter’s first snowstorm.
      http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2013/03

  4. Will Citi Bike be open year-round?
    Citi Bike will run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    In the event of general weather conditions that may make cycling hazardous, NYC Bike Share will temporarily shut down the system and lock down and/or remove the bicycles as necessary. The system will reopen as soon as the weather permits. NYC Bike Share is responsible for all station cleaning and snow removal.

    (http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/bikeshare/faq/#open-year-roun)

    • Olivier hennesy

      Who is responsible for any property damage or injury caused by a biker using a bike from the bike share program? Are bikers insured? Is the city going to cover my costs when a biker runs into my car when trying to access their bikes from the bike racks!

      • Shmoliver Shmennesy

        Me me me me me me me!!!!!!!

      • As with any other bike, it seems to me the cyclist should be responsible. Why we in the nation think that blame needs to laid everyone but on ourselves is beyond me. This kind of logic should not stop a program that will. Have you investigated the bike share program? Do you know what it's about and how it works?

        In any case, I'm not against it but the number and size of these stations is what I object to.

  5. I was at that meeting. One of the applause lines that several bikeshare opponents yelled was "they're not putting these things in front of Citibanks!!!"

    Well, FYI: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10798592@N08/8723694

    Petrosino Square? There were two public art exhibits there in all of 2012. NOW that the bike racks are there, Ms. Scott is doing her protest performance–for which there is space. I admit that the racks reduce the amount of art space available, but at the same time, it seems that it was the bike racks that brought the art BACK to the square.

    Look, I can't argue with residents who have problems concerning their buildings. But there was a lot of hysteria at that meeting. Not all opponents were hysterical, but an unfortunately large number were.

    • How stupid was the woman who said that bikes should only be able to park in parking garages. "Well . . . well there's this new law that requires garages to set aside parking for bikes . . . . well they should only park there then! "
      I think it was the loudest applause line. I was thinking, how about we limit cars to only garages and give the streets back to the people and not the car driving minority.

      Do you recall if that was the same woman claiming that bike share would require her poor door men to have to take out the garbage further down the street and how they don't deserve to be mistreated like that?

      • Anti-Bike Share

        You appear all over the bike blogs- clearly a Holier-than-thou bike-militant. Wonder how much you're getting paid by Citi to push all this propaganda around. I also wonder if you even live in NYC

        • Wonder how much you're getting paid by Citi to push all this propaganda around.

          How much does your tin foil hat cost? Can I send for one of those in the mail?

          I'm not religious so I won't say I'm holier than you. I'm probably more educated than you. I'll admit that.

          • first of all, Jarek, your string of comment would have more weight if you had the courage
            to use your last name. second, calling people who disagree with the plan Tea Baggers is
            really stupid and cliched..not worthy of someone who claims to be so educated.

    • Oh, I see you weren't talking to me, but to Jarek. Oh well, I thought you were talking to me because I *AM* holier than thou. Bless you, child.

  6. The Taliban? Really? What a jerk. You know who's really like the Taliban? The Taliban.

    Grow up.

  7. Bikeshare is horrible for a variety of reasons.I can not believe that racks have been placed on narrow streets in the West Village. You can not even walk in twosomes on some of these streets. Also people in New York are awful bike riders to begin with, they ride on the sidewalks they ride into traffic they ride into people like me!!! This is not Amsterdam.

  8. I am looking forward to bike share. Commutes to Midtown/Downtown will have another option besides subways and buses. Sure, some parking spaces have been lost, but most of these complaints are kind of silly and based in fear of the unknown (ex. really, this is like the Taliban? any actual evidence this will hurt property values?).

  9. "Will they ask our doormen to clean them?" Yep, that's the new East Village folks in a nutshell. Soon they'll be wanting all those scary brown people out too.

    • Olivier hennesy

      Great comment. This city is only interested in young white skinny hipsters who work for google or the Bloomberg corp or those here for a few years attending $50,000 a year private schools like NYU.

      • She's a rising (struggling, let's be real) singer/songwriter. So, in other words, she's a waitress who lives in a building where 500sq ft studios (she mentioned her tiny studio in her rant) go for $3,000 and went to a $45,000/year undergrad. So yah, dad pays her rent.

        So why can't daddy also pay for her private parking spot?

      • No but seriously, the stereotype you're blasting, is actually describing the person who made that statement at the meeting.

  10. Olivier hennesy

    Two questions actually 3. The article mentions the naysayers are all rich and white. This program was in no way for the poor, those that don't have credit cards, that can't afford putting 120.00 deposits down each time they use the bike. But it is the rich white bikers who suggest we shouldn't have cars and trucks on our streets, so the question is how do you think you are going to get your organic lettuces and craft beer delivered to Whole Foods? Next who is insuring the bikers and will pay the medical bills and property damages when bikers accidentally back into a pedestrian or traffic trying to maneuver the bikes? Are the bikers suggesting that ambulance drivers are supposed to carry the gurneys over the bike racks when the bike racks cover entire street blocks. This is just not thought out. Yes it could be a great idea, but it is done in the most heavy handed way.

    • The city is working with NYCHA to provide discounted memberships and access for people without credit cards.

      • Who would vote down a simple factual statement? What twits. The NYCHA price is $60/year. That's less than a one way trip taxi to JFK.

        It's not for the poor!

    • This program was in no way for the poor, those that don't have credit cards, that can't afford putting 120.00 deposits .

      You think the poor can afford their own cars or taxi's?

      the question is how do you think you are going to get your organic lettuces and craft beer delivered to Whole Foods?

      Like I do now. On my bike.

      • Without delivery trucks, how will you get your vegan specialties? Oh I know, you'll bike out to the farms in NJ and PA, maybe even South Carolina…

        • Without delivery trucks, how will you get your vegan specialties? Oh I know, you'll bike out to the farms in NJ and PA, maybe even South Carolina…

          That's right. Bike Share = No delivery trucks. I don't know how DC, Boston, Minneapolis, Montreal, London, Paris, Hangzhou, Houston et al. some how still get food with their bike share systems.

          Canibals?

    • Wait, you are worried about injuries caused by a bike backing into a pedestrian? Do you even know how bikes work? A cyclist "backing" a bike will probably be slower than the pedestrian who runs in it.

      Sorry if this comment was incoherent, but I am still struggling to picture the horrors of a cyclist backing into a pedestrian.

  11. Board chair David Gruber is not correct. Neither is Carol Greitzer. Stations in London are rather large.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/14028464@N04/5789375

  12. Everyone should relax and rest assured that the city will be monitoring the success of various bikeshare stations. They are specifically designed to be very easy to move in the event that they are not working out in a current location. Criteria for success of a station, however, is not how loud and well-connected the nearby residents are.

    The 70% of New Yorkers who support bikeshare should know about StreetsPAC whose mission is to help get elected candidates who champion people-centric, safe, livable streets. I also encourage everyone to get involved in the many interesting issues facing our communities by participating in local community board meetings when ideas are being exchanged, not after they have been implemented.

    • <I also encourage everyone to get involved in the many interesting issues facing our communities by participating in local community board meetings when ideas are being exchanged, not after they have been implemented.>

      Tell that to DOT, not the taxpayers. DOT skipped out of the meeting that had been billed by the community board as an introduction to bike share with a movie and slideshow by DOT. We showed up. DOT reneged when they heard the reaction of the residents and businesses.

      • The DOT was present at plenty of Community Board 2 meetings and other workshops throughout the planning process. Why weren't all these residents and businesses providing their input then?

  13. Notice readers' comments on how the Citibike works are all answered quickly and expertly in great detail. It's clear DOT employees are shilling here to counter the 400 Villagers at the meeting.

    • Yah, that must be it. You cannot possibly fathom that people actually support bike share. It must be DoT employees. That's dumb.

    • Wow, opponents of bike share really are like the Tea Party. Deny facts, and then attempt to discredit supporters by accusing them of shilling.

      God forbid someone actually takes time to learn about the program because they look forward to using it. It's a shame the people opposing bike share about it can't take time to do the same so their complaints are actually based in fact.

  14. ByeBye BikeShare

    Can The Villager, Downtown Express, LoDown, Bowery Boogie, EV Grieve or other downtown blog/paper please launch an investigation into the megabucks that Citi is paying to the major bike organizations to provide the militant bike-PR that blankets NYC media?

    • Yes. It must be a conspiracy. It can't possibly be the case that many people support bike share.

      Jane Jacobs would be very proud.

    • Can The Villager, Downtown Express, LoDown, Bowery Boogie, EV Grieve or other downtown blog/paper please launch an investigation into the megabucks that the auto companies are paying to the major anti-bike organizations to provide the militant car-PR that blankets NYC media?

    • Hilarious! I hope they call me first, since I've been trying to educate ignorant commenters on those sites for weeks, and I am neither paid by Citi or DOT, nor am I affiliated with a "major bike organization." I'm just a guy who thinks bike share is a good idea and looks forward to using it.

      What is your mental defect that you simply can't accept that some people actually like this program?

  15. I bet all these whining NIMBYs fancied themselves hep and open-minded when they first moved to New York City. Then they grew old and became their Nixon-supporting parents.

    • So how much does Citi pay you?

      • Right. Because anyone who disagrees with you and actually likes bike share MUST have been paid by Citi or DOT. And the thousands of people who signed up are shills who work for the city. And the thousands of people who are going to use bike share when it launches are paid actors. And and and…

        Relax! No one has to like everything in the city and you won't be forced to ride a bike. You're only forced to believe what Sean Sweeney tells you to.

        • nicknchelsea

          Yeah, and everyone who thinks this program has ALREADY been handled with heavy handed arrogance, been very poorly thought out, and is way too big to start with, is instantly a NIMBY or an old Republican fart who should retire to Florida! Why don't YOU self-important, entitled bike enthusiasts stop calling names and start dealing with the fact that you may not have everyone in the city kissing your butts and slapping you on the back just because your overblown bike program got approved!

          • "Why don't YOU self-important, entitled bike enthusiasts stop calling names…"

            Pot, meet kettle.

  16. What happened to Greenwich Village? About as progressive and open to progress as a upperclass suburb. So sad.

  17. Tonight perfectly illustrates why bike share cannot get here soon enough!

    I'm at my office late at work, about to head out. It's nice and cool out and the streets are empty. But, because it was raining, I didn't bike to work today. So after sitting at a desk for the past 14 hours, I'll probably catch a cab.

    Whereas with bike share, I could get the bike from the station by my office and then head back to my apt in CB 1 where there's a station outside my apt as well as stretch my legs out.

    I pay taxes (a ton). I work hard. I support bike share because it gives me options. The critics keep saying that this isn't Amsterdam. Well, this isn't Westchester! This isn't the suburbs! We cannot all just get in our cars and drive home to and from work. Bike share gives New Yorkers options.

    • CAB!!! Elitist.

      Has anyone projected how much cabbies will lose in income to CitiBike? Some 22% of DC bikeshare members have dropped cabs. That should be serious change. Mayor Mike should compute the effect on sale of new medallions.

  18. Ben Kintisch

    I am a kindergarten teacher. I bike to work. I bike with my family. I am one of the 5000 people who signed up for bike share in the first day and a half. There is no conspiracy. Just lots of people are excited about new ways to get around the city. My wife and I are very excited to start using Citibike from the beginning!

  19. I walk over a mile to work so this is hypothetical, but I have thought about this. suppose I use one of the bikes from that UGLY rack in my historic neighborhood.. so I ride to work in Tribeca and I can't find an open slot to drop off my bike. then what? keep riding around looking for one while my students wonder why their teacher is late? I can see it now… by the time I find a bike parking space, they have signed an attendance sheet and left.

    • Cap'n Sensible

      There are 2-3 docks for every bike. The DOT want docks EVERYWHERE, so the Citibikers won't have to worry about the problem you just described. While most of us think this project is way too huge, bike zealots think it's not enough! In their minds all you "dirty" motorists can spend all day looking for a spot to park, but THEY should never be inconvenienced, because, they're, you know, saving the world or something.

    • And what happens to people who take a cab and get stuck in traffic or who ride a subway that is delayed? This is life in NYC. Sometimes there are inconveniences that make us late. One thing you could do is leave a little early if you're worried about being on time. Also, the system has an app, so if you have a smartphone you can look to see where the nearest station is with an open spot. But there are many more docks than bikes, so the hope is there will almost always be a place to park!

      • Sak, you missed my point. one of the reasons I walk to work, aside from it being healthy, is that
        I can't be late…I don't work in an office..I am a teacher, so if Im late… there is no class. But
        thanks for the explanation about the apps.

  20. (i) They purposefully design the racks to have more spots than anticipated users. So when people were complaining about 40 bikes coming in, really, it's about 24 (though, if need be, it can hold up to 40).

    (ii) As Sak mentioned, there are plenty of apps available with real time stats on open/empty bike slots

    (iii) Citibikes will be monitoring usage patterns and will move bikes throughout the day

    (iv) related to (iii), they will increase the size, decrease the size and even move stations to accommodate demand so as to minimize the likelihood that people encounter full racks.

    ***
    Your situation is exactly what bike share is intended to address. You can walk, take a bike, take a cab etc . . . it's just another option.

    • Why don't you identify yourself as a rep of CitiBike and DOT? that would be more honest

      • Really? A person can't know something without being labeled a DOT shill? Some people know a lot about trains. Do they work for the MTA?

        What size tin foil hat do you wear?

  21. Good idea, bad locations. Why not have a few large lots with bikes, and crews, waiting to help, instead?

  22. Something I haven't heard brought up is the fact that a huge percentage of bikers completely ignore traffic regulations. I'd like to have a dime for every rider I see going the wrong way on a street, the fact that delivery people are now wearing orange vests makes no difference at all. Count how many bikes you see obeying the law and stopping at a traffic light, just keep score. About 9 out of 10 do whatever they want. The huge influx of bikes will result in many more accidents. Until and unless bikers are force to pay fines they will continue to ignore rules that keep everyone safe.

  23. I live on Greenwich Avenue where there's a bike dock and I'm TOTALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT.
    I think the city or Citibikes should do a program about bike safety and rules and hand signals though.
    Even if they are just posted on the docking stations.
    I, too, have experienced the bikeshare in Paris and it's fantastic and it only works when there are a lot of docking stations in lots of places so it's easy to find a place to park again when you return your bike, and easy to find an available bike.
    Sounds like there are a few misguided placements but it's high time the city became bike friendly. It's a great way to get around and I'm grateful to the DOT and the city for making it happen.

  24. Bonnie Rosenstock

    There is a bike share on 11th St. between 2nd and 3rd, in back of St. Mark's Church. It seems to be in a good location, not obstructing anything. However, the bike share on Astor Place is a nuisance on this busy street. I think DOT should have given more thought to where they put these potential obstructions to traffic and pedestrians. But why so many in the EV? It's dangerous enough crossing the streets with the bike lanes and some very thoughtless riders. It's going to be an absolute circus, with the lions in charge of the streets.

    • girlnotonbike

      Agreed. East village got more than its "fair share". Is there a map of all the locations? I bet that the map would show that.

  25. Bike Share is an interesting experiment and should be given a chance and then a careful evaluation. Reactionary "Villagers" should be ashamed of their hostility to zero carbon transport displacing private cars. But they're right, about NYC not being Amsterdam; not only do we have inconsiderate bikers and drivers, but also millions of pedestrians who routinely ignore traffic lights.

  26. Read two pieces this week in the NY Post & the Daily News where reporters were invited to try
    these big clunky bikes. One reporter, an avid cyclist, complained that the bikes were super heavy
    and it was very difficult and cumbersome to get them in and out of the docking stations.

  27. Wow, this article is good, my younger sister is analyzing such things, thus I am going to tell her.

  28. Hello! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My site looks weird when browsing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share. Appreciate it!

  29. Appreciating the time and effort you put into your site and detailed information you offer. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  30. As classy as you in your corset and stockings, Ian?

  31. Stay classy, Sean!

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