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Some of My Best Friends are Bike Share Systems

May 1, 2013

Ironically, this free newspaper is distributed in a sidewalk-hogging metal box that exists solely for the purpose of promoting a private business.

Well, here we go again. As regular readers well know, one of the requirements for anyone who hates bikes is to first establish how much he loves bikes.  So it should come as no surprise that the people who have problems with bike share are also taking great pains to let people know how much they love bike share.

CBS2’s Tony Aiello, who’s filed three anti-bike-share pieces in one week, spoke to a business owner in the East Village:

“We like the idea of the bike thing. It’s a great idea and I’m sure I’ll use it, too,” local business owner Glen Gaylinn said.

Gaylinn is one of many worried about the impact on parking and traffic. The station in front of his shop has already been hit by a garbage truck making a tight turn. The installation of a docking station came as a total surprise.

“I’m here 19 years, block association president, I knew nothing about it,” Gaylinn said.

I don’t know what block Gaylinn lives on, but perhaps it’s time for residents to elect a block association president who checks the local community board’s calendar every now and then?

The cover of am New York this morning actually stated, “Bike Share Backlash: NOT ON MY BLOCK.”  Here’s what one NOMB had to say:

“I’m not against the program but this is not the way to do it,” said tenant Dorothy Rowan, 57. “When the bikes come in there will be no room for anyone on the road.”

In order to make room for other people, perhaps the city can offer alternatives to private cars.  Might I suggest a bike share system?

One resident of Battery Park City “expressed surprise” that a station had been installed at West Thames St near South End Avenue overnight:

“I’m not opposed to the bikes,” said Lipsky. “I think the mayor has done a wonderful job on it.”

But she thought that it was “a very inappropriate location for a very good program… West Thames is a very congested street and a number of buses pass there and kids from the school cross there. If the other [locations] are as bad as this one, I think they’ll run into problems with the community,” she said.

Translation: “The mayor has done a wonderful job with the bikes, but if he’s done as bad a job elsewhere as he has on my block then he’s actually done a terrible job.”

One of the residents of the now-infamous co-op building on Bank Street that sued to have a Citi Bike station would totally sign up for a membership, if only the stations weren’t so big:

“It’s just totally overwhelming the block,” said Mary Lucas, a 10-year tenant of 99 Bank St., near Greenwich Street.

“I would use the program, but this has put a rather bad taste in my mouth.”

Then there’s SoHo’s Sean Sweeney, who’s well aware of how he’s perceived:

Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, admitted that some in the community refer to him as a “NIMBY” (not in my backyard). But, he said, he is not opposed to the idea of the bike-share but has issues with some of the proposed locations and, in particular, with Petrosino Square.

And, of course, there’s the quote to end all quotes, captured by Streetsblog at the Fort Greene forum hosted by Tish James:

“This all reeks of NIMBYism in terms of ‘not in my backyard,’” she said. “I’m not against the bike-share, I’m opposed to the locations.” She then requested that the station near her home be moved.

If you find more examples, please leave them in the comments.

  1. Ben Kintisch permalink
    May 1, 2013 10:57 pm

    When they put in the bike share station on my street, (Monroe and Classon, in Bed-Stuy), about a dozen people were gathering happily, snapping photos, etc. One daddy said to his daughter, “Look at that! This is so great!” Then a woman came over to one of the workers and said, “No body wants that here! Nobody wants bike share or whatever that is! People want to drive their cars!” I pointed out that lots of people gathered seemed interested, and there’s still plenty of space to park. She didn’t want to hear that.

    • May 1, 2013 11:01 pm

      I had a similar exchange near my office while checking a new station. A woman saw me looking, came up and said, “I don’t know anyone who’s in favor of this.” I politely introduced myself and then said, “Well, now you know me.” She actually laughed and after I explained a little bit about how it works she came around… at least a little.

  2. May 2, 2013 12:19 am

    There is definitely NIMBYism going on, but I’m also starting to wonder if there is another component to the way people reflexively oppose everything… not exactly arrogance, not exactly smugness, not exactly self-righteousness… but a general sense that if The Government is doing something, then They are going to screw it up, because They didn’t ask me personally, and obviously I know how to do everything better than The Government.

    It’s as if an act of government competence would make the existence of the kvetchers unjustified, so no matter what the project is, they must extract their pound of flesh.

  3. May 2, 2013 1:32 pm

    Did other cities that have bike sharing programs see the same amount of pre-judgement, lack of understanding, and seemingly instinctual resistance to anything new?

    • May 2, 2013 4:01 pm

      Somewhat. DC had its share of pre-launch jitters, misunderstandings, and scare talk.

      “DC saw some contentious public meetings about whether stations belonged in certain neighborhoods. That’s all long gone. Now, when an ANC takes up bike sharing, it’s usually either to push for more stations or debate whether a station belongs in one spot or across the street.”

      This might sound like a dispatch from tonight’s CB2 meeting in the Village, but it’s actually from DC in 2010:–3343.html

      “In fact, a common refrain popped up among them: “We’re not against the bicycles! We’re not against the bicycles!” What they were against was the location of the bicycles, and they didn’t like the triangle as a location because cars tend to speed past it. They said people could get hurt walking to and from the triangle, including children. But this argument was complicated by the fact that two speed tables are currently being installed there (replacing speed humps) to further slow cars — as well as the strong possibility that the placement of a large bike-sharing station there could in fact calm traffic.”

      But the good news is that it all passed. Capital Bike share is successful and popular. My friends in DC have sent words of encouragement – we’ll get there, too!

    • invisiblevisibleman permalink
      May 2, 2013 5:47 pm

      I was living (and reporting on transport in) London when the Barclays hire scheme was introduced there. It didn’t cause anything like the same amount of fuss (although there was somewhere in Mayfair where residents unsuccessfully sued on the grounds the necessary environmental impact assessment hadn’t been properly done). Most of the fuss in London was about safety. Last I heard, no-one has died yet. London had slightly higher cycling levels when the program came in, however. London’s street layout is also a little different, so there were probably fewer stations right in residential neighborhoods in quite the same way.

      I hate to tell you this, but the next storm is going to be how the system works. In both London and Paris, there were big challenges dealing with the flow of bikes. Bikes obviously flow into the center from the periphery at the start of the day and back out again at the end. I used to see people riding around at the end of the day on the edge of the bikeshare zone as I rode home, looking for an open space at a docking station. Transport for London was also surprised at how many people finished their commute by bike each day. They hadn’t expected that and had to expand the station at Waterloo Station (London’s busiest) fast.

      There are complex questions. Does one, for example, use a big van that takes a long time to load to move the bikes around? Or does one use a small trailer that will take small batches? That was quite an issue in London. In Paris, I know they struggled with spacing stations in popular areas – whether they needed one big station or lots of small ones. Oh, and wait for the first time all the software crashes. Because it’s guesswork how the scheme will be used, New York will have got some of these things wrong – and the tabloids will make a big fuss every time a problem emerges (I predict).

      The interesting question, meanwhile, is whether using bikeshare will encourage people to start using their own bikes more. Transport for London certainly expected some of that – but whether it had worked that way was still an open question when I last covered the issue.

      • May 4, 2013 8:54 pm

        Agree, Robert. I’m planning a post on this, predicting what the next Post stories will be. The flow of bicycles will certainly be one of them, of course, with the inevitable story about someone who gets to a full station with no place to park or, on the flip side, someone who gets to an empty station with no bikes available.

        I think we’re also bound to get a story about someone who doesn’t read the kiosk and gets hit with high overage fees. (Gothamist more or less previewed this with an old story about a ride potentially costing $77.)

        Back in the early days of this blog, I made a few predictions for how the media would react to some of the more common “problems” with bike share. See my final two:

        More to come…

  4. May 3, 2013 11:31 pm

    Love the acronym “NOMB”. As in, “NOM(B) NOM(B) NOM(B)! These bike share stations are devouring my parking spots!”

    Did we have a winner for your “cars vs. bike share” competition?

    • May 4, 2013 8:55 pm

      Stole that one from a friend on Twitter who was also responding to this cover.

      Going to compile all the responses I got on Twitter and open the competition up to readers here. I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a winner!


  1. RT @BrooklynSpoke: New post: Some of My Best Friends are Bike Share Systems. #bikenyc #citibike | - Exercising for fun and fitness in the New York City area by Anthony Olszewski

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