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“It doesn’t fit the neighborhood.”

May 23, 2013

Yesterday I posted a quote from Soraya Mackhrandilall, who led the effort to remove a Citi Bike station from in front of her building at 83-89 Barrow Street, on the the southeast corner of Barrow and Hudson.

Mackhrandilall, like many bike share opponents before her, based her complaints on historic accuracy and aesthetics, saying that the station wasn’t appropriate for the neighborhood. “This is a residential street, and it looked like Times Square,” Mackhrandilall complained to DNAinfo.

I happen to work a few blocks from this location and popped over there yesterday during lunch to check out this street for myself.

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83-89 Barrow Street’s entrance is the first door on the right, in between the potted plants.  The bike share station in question used to be in the parking lane just to the left of this phone booth.  Curiously, the bright blue ad for a liquor company on the phone booth’s side hasn’t provoked comparisons to Times Square.  And since payphones these days are rarely used for anything other than advertising, one has to wonder why local residents aren’t complaining to the Post about the wasted sidewalk space and visual pollution.

Then there’s the issue of the view.

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Now that the bike share station is gone, SUVs like this (above) await residents as they walk out of 83-89 Barrow’s front door.  If car parking is restored to the southeast corner of Barrow, the view will soon look more like this:

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As I’ve pointed out before, almost every criticism about bike share can be leveled at automobiles as well.  Yet you can be sure no one on Barrow Street is contacting CB2 about this 21st Century blight on their 19th Cenutry neighborhood.

Then there’s the question of where the station was relocated.  It now sits on the northwest corner of Barrow and Hudson, in front of the garden of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields.

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Although St. Luke’s in the Fields has undergone extensive renovations since the 1950s, much of the building and property dates to the Monroe administration, an era not exactly known for automobiles or even bicycle sharing.

In a reverse 99 Bank Street, the station was moved from blacktop to cobblestones, which opponents of all things bike are usually happy to tell you trump all other road surfaces in the historic accuracy department.  Plus, all of the typical concerns over how cobblestones affect the safety of cyclists and pedestrians by forcing people on bikes onto the sidewalk don’t seem to exist now that the station isn’t in front of anyone’s apartment building.   (Right before I took this photo, a cyclist did, in fact, turn off of Hudson and onto the sidewalk to go west navigating peacefully around two unfazed pedestrians, an incident you won’t read about in the Post.)

In the end, the positive message to take from the relocation of this particular station is that it proves that the Department of Transportation is listening and has the freedom to be flexible.  I also think putting the station on this side of the street means that Citi Bike users can check out and return a bike within feet the Hudson Street bike lane.  But it’s also a great example of how NIMBYs, for all of their concern over history and safety, rarely extend that concern farther than their own corner.

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5 Comments
  1. Dave Stewart permalink
    May 23, 2013 4:39 pm

    This relocation is especially galling, because at the community bike siting workshop a year ago, we locals SPECIFICALLY picked the location by 83 Barrow. I was there.
    And I live on that block, and I can testify that Barrow St. is plenty wide at that location. While Barrow St. is narrow farther east, between its intersection with Commerce St. and Hudson St., Barrow is especially wide, on account of some historic fluke.
    This lack of comity is a low point for the owners of 83-89 Barrow, my block and the Bedford-Barrow-Commerce Block Association. Embarrassing.
    Why would the DoT relocate to an obviously inferior site? I don’t get it.

  2. May 23, 2013 9:27 pm

    Well, I have no idea about the relative inferiority or superiority of any given site in this neighborhood, but you do make an important point. The community was involved, had ample opportunity for input, and then this small group of people complained, purporting to speak for everyone. Typical, of course, but no less frustrating.

  3. May 26, 2013 8:10 pm

    So, the real question is – how much damage has this real-estate agent done to their franchise by leaving this quote? I don’t think NIMBYs move nearly as much as millennials and gen-X/Yers, and I’d never contract with her.

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