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Citi Bike Share Dock Uprooting Public Bike Rack Downtown

By Irene Plagianos on May 1, 2013 3:24pm 

BATTERY PARK CITY — The city’s latest planned outpost for its new bike share program is pushing a group of active Battery Park City cyclists to cause a racket.

Residents found out last week that a popular bike rack on South End Avenue, at Liberty Street, is being torn down to make way for a set of Citi Share stations, leaving local bikers perplexed — and angry.

“This makes absolutely no sense,” said Shelly Mossey, 58, an avid cyclist who runs a bike-messenger company. “The program is supposed to promote biking, so they’re taking away a place to put bikes? – it’s crazy.”

The rack, which sits outside a large housing complex called Gateway Plaza is used by tenants, but is also open for public use.

“It’s the only bike rack in the area," said Karen Sideman, who lives in a neighboring building. "I keep my bike in my apartment, but when I want to use the Brookfield Place shops, this where I leave my bike — and lots of other people who bike into the neighborhood do the same."

A sign placed on the rack last week informed bikers that they'd have to permanently remove their wheels by May 5 for the city's own bike stations.

Tenants of the Gateway say there are a few other bike racks inside the complex, but they are always packed.

While the bike program has been hailed as a popular green move for the city, the location of its docking stations, which are now popping up across the city, have also been the subject of ire from some residents.

A West Village co-op recently sued the city over the share program's bike docks outside their building at 99 Bank St.

Bike-share stations have also been covered with signs that protest the corporate-branded cycle stations' placement in historic neighborhoods.

The DOT is currently installing 6,000 bikes at 330 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn for the initial phase of the program. For an annual membership of $95 plus tax, an electronic key sent in the mail will unlock bikes from any station in the city for an unlimited number of 45-minute rides.

"We think the Citi Share program is great," said Manon Chevallerau, a resident of Gateway for the past eight years. "But why on Earth would they take away our bike rack — it goes against the whole ethos of program I think. "

Local bikers have formed a group, and are trying to get answers from the Department of Transportation, the Battery Park City Authority, and Gateway Plaza — to try to get a new rack if they can't stop the city's bike docks from taking root.

But Mossey said so far they haven't been given any definitive answers.

A spokesman for the BPCA, however, said that there are several other public access racks within a block of the disputed location, while "the current rack, intended for daily use, has become a virtual outdoor, long term parking lot for standard and commercial use bikes."

"That has deprived the general public of space," he added.

The BPCA also said they "would gladly look for additional public bike rack space should they need to grow."

A DOT spokesman said the share stations are being installed in the location "at the request of the building of the property owner and it is also supported by the BPCA."

"We understand they are looking for an alternate location for the rack, which is not a DOT rack," he added.

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