Citi Bike stations cause headaches for many New Yorkers
As the city works to get its bike share program going by the end of the month, some residents and small businesses are fed up with the rental stations popping up on their streets.
Thursday night, Community Board 2 in Manhattan will host a forum where residents can talk about how the racks being installed by the city Department of Transportation for Citi Bike are grinding their gears.
"They have to come up with something other than this," said Gary Ormiston, 62, who's annoyed that the city put up one of its 330 stations outside his West Village apartment building, adding that he wasn't notified.
A common complaint has been how much space the bike racks take up in front of apartment buildings.
A lawsuit thrown out last week was filed by tenants of 99 Bank St. in the West Village, who complained that the 70-foot station in front of the building took up too much space on their cobblestone block.
Paul Kequis, the building's super, said it blocked the entrance to the front lobby and was a safety hazard.
"How is a firetruck supposed to park here?" he asked.
The city apparently heard some of the concerns, removing the racks that covered the entrance and placing a concrete slab to separate the cars and bikes Tuesday.
The DOT didn't comment about the changes, and several residents say the moves still aren't enough to alleviate their concerns.
"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."
The stations also create a nightmare for drivers who are already having problems finding a parking space, critics say. Several drivers reported that the city towed their cars in what were once legal spots without notice, because their cars were near the empty racks.
A DOT spokesman said the department posts no parking signs at least three days before crews install each station.
Over in Brooklyn, some Fort Greene and Clinton Hill residents despise the fact that the racks -- which have a logo for sponsor Citigroup and a pole that serves as a solar panel, stick out in their historic districts. Angry Brooklynites posted fliers saying the company's logo shoudn't be splattered on landmarked blocks.
City Councilwoman Leticia James, a supporter of the program, met last week with constituents and said the DOT needed to be clearer about the exact details of Citi Bike installations.
"The info session provided information for residents unfamiliar with the Citi Bike program," she said in a statement.
Food cart vendors say miscommunication about the program is costing them. Last week, vendors protested at Zuccotti Park over the station at Liberty Street and Broadway, a prime spot for food carts.
Archana Dittakavi, staff attorney for the Street Vendor Project, a nonprofit that represents food vendors, said her clients have no qualms about bike share but wish they had more warning about the rack set up.
"When it comes to taking up the spaces that vendors occupy, you're taking away people's ability to work," she said.
The DOT reiterated that it has worked with community boards and BIDs about station locations and installation.
Demand for the program is huge, as more than 5,000 applicants signed up for the service in the first 48 hours of registration.