Bike Share War Rages at Village Forum

By Andrea Swalec on May 3, 2013 6:43am 

Slideshow
 Bike share foes say the docks block access to buildings and affect the character of their area.
Village and SoHo Bike Share Forum
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GREENWICH VILLAGE — Bike share foes griped that newly installed docks blocked building entrances and destroyed the aesthetics of Greenwich Village and SoHo at a packed meeting Thursday night.

Crowding the auditorium of P.S. 41, many locals said they worry the Citi Bike docks — the city's hottest talking point since installation recently began — will degrade the historic character of the area and block building access for emergency vehicles, seniors and people with special needs.

"How is a fire truck supposed to pull up in front of my building?" Village resident Deborah Stone, 55, asked.

"We have people in wheelchairs and people who use walkers. How are they supposed to get to the curb to get a cab, to get Access-A-Ride?"

Responding to some neighbors touting what a success bike-share programs have been in European cities, Stone snapped.

"I don't care what they do in Paris, I live in New York City," she said to cheers and applause.

Ian Dutton, a former CB2 member and ardent bike-share supporter, dismissed the worry that Citi Bike docks will block emergency access to homes.

"Firefighters can pull a hose through the bikes just like they pull them between two parked cars," the airline pilot said.

Docks placed in the street take away sorely needed parking spots for cars, said Westbeth Artists' Housing resident Jane Klein, 42, who estimated she spends five hours a week looking for parking or moving her car because of alternate-side rules.

A group of SoHo residents griped about the location of a Citi Bike dock placed in the middle of one end of Petrosino Square.

"The northern half of that triangle was created and dedicated for the display of public art," resident Pete Davies said, noting the city initially planned with Friends of Petrosino Square for the space to have that use.

A businesswoman based at 99 Bank St., where residents sued the city and DOT to have a 31-bike dock removed from the front of their building, said the dock tainted the feel of her block.

 The 31-bike docking station was installed on Bank Street near Hudson Street April 24, 2013.
The 31-bike docking station was installed on Bank Street near Hudson Street April 24, 2013.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

"They shouldn't be on these little, quaint residential streets," store owner Carol Kaas said.

Community Board 2 initially planned to host an informational film on bike-share programs Thursday night, but opted to give locals the opportunity to voice their opinions about the controversial transportation plan instead.

Representatives of the Department of Transportation declined to attend, CB2 chair David Gruber said to booing from the audience.

Longtime Village resident Stu Waldman, 71, one of many Citi Bike supporters in attendance Thursday, said he would rather see bikes than cars and large trucks on his block.

"Our streets aren't pristine now. Having bikes instead of cars will be a lot better," said Waldman, who runs a publishing company.

Dutton said he thinks bike-share foes will get used to seeing the docks.

"I think if we had this meeting in a month, everything would be fine," he said.

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