Third Pedestrian Plans to Sue City After Tripping Over Citi Bike Station

By James Fanelli on October 3, 2013 6:51am 

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 Two pedestrians say they plan to sue the city, claiming they were injured when they tripped over a Citi Bike station.
Pedestrians Claim Injuries Caused by Citi Bike Stations
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FLATIRON DISTRICT — Gray isn't Citi Bike's color.

An Upper East Side resident plans to sue the city for more than $5 million after tripping over one of the blue bicycle's gray docking stations.

Diana Mathes, 63, claims she broke her arm when she tumbled over a bike station at East 20th and Park Avenue because its base looked like the street.

She's the third person to file an official notice that she plans to sue over a Citi Bike-related injury, according to the office of the city Comptroller.

DNAinfo.com New York reported Wednesday that the two other claimants say they also tripped over the bicycle-sharing program's stations. One of the other claimants also blames a station's gray color for his fall. 

Mathes and her husband, David Hausfeld, filed a notice of claim against the city and its contractor NYC Bike Share LLC on Sept. 17. A notice of claim is a precursor to a lawsuit and must be registered with the city comptroller within 90 days of the accident.

Mathes says she fractured the humerus bone in her arm when she fell. The notice says that the station's raised base, which sits on the street, "was camouflaged with the roadway."

Other claimants seeing red over the gray include Howard Orlick, 52, who says he injured his ankle at a Citi Bike station at University Place near 13th Street in the Greenwich Village on May 5.

The Chelsea resident who is legally blind couldn't tell where the sidewalk ended and the station began, according to his June 17 claim.

“I fell into the 6-inch gap [between the sidewalk and the station] and twisted my ankle pretty badly,” he said in his notice. “May I suggest you paint the bike-rack base a different color, like black?"

He is seeking $500 to cover his medical bills.

A third pedestrian, Lachonne Shelton, plans to sue for $1 million after she tumbled over a Citi Bike station at Centre and Worth streets on April 24.

The city's Department of Transportation, which oversees the bicycle-sharing program, told DNAinfo on Tuesday that it is not liable because its contractor, NYC Bike Share LLC,  has coverage.

"We are indemnified against claims under the contract and the vendor is insured," agency spokesman Nicholas Mosquera said.

In June 2012 city Comptroller John Liu said NYC Bike Share had purchased liability insurance of up to $10 million per year.

At the time, he urged NYC Bike Share to buy more coverage because of the scope of the program, which began in May. He said after three years the program would have enough historical data to find an appropriate coverage level.

It's unclear if NYC Bike Share has since purchased extra coverage. The firm's parent company, Alta Bicycle Share, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Citi Bike program has 330 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn with more than 3.5 million rides taken since the launch. The city already faces lawsuits from residents who want stations removed from their neighborhoods.

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