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Community Board Wants Six West Side Citi Bike Stations Moved

By Mathew Katz | June 6, 2013 8:22am
 The stations are causing congestion and blocking seniors from accessing the street, the board said.
CB4 Wants Bike Share Stations Moved
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CHELSEA — Community Board 4 wants the Department of Transportation to move six Citi Bike stations it says stop senior citizens from accessing public transit, cause congestion and block loading bays.

The board sent a letter to the DOT on May 29 — two days after the bike-sharing program launched — asking for several of the district's 70 stations to be moved or changed.

"While the vast majority of the Citi Bike installations have been well received, a few have caused concerns and impaired the public use of the street by various members of the community," the letter said.

The board also asked that no station be installed on blocks in historic districts and the Clinton Special district without consultation with the board, that no station be installed by very large buildings and that there be a space of 4 feet left in between every six or seven bikes, giving spaced-out access to the street.

Norman Usiak, whose business is right next to one of the controversial racks, loves Citi Bike, he said. It's the stations he hates — specifically, the one in front of his business at 17th Street and Eighth Avenue.

Usiak, who owns Camouflage Clothing, said the rack appeared a few weeks ago just outside his shop and immediately started causing problems on the busy block, where nearby schools let out hundreds of kids every afternoon.

"The problem is exactly where they placed it — it's added a tremendous amount of congestion. The kids sit on the bikes and leave trash," he said, adding that seniors from the residential side of his building need to hobble around the new addition to get to cabs.

"They just dumped them without asking anyone in the building."

According to the board, the building the Usiak's store is located in at 300 W. 17th St. has 33 apartments, almost half of which are occupied by senior citizens. The racks have made it hard for them to get to cabs or Access-A-Ride buses.

Susanne Wasson, who's lived there for decades, said the bike rack has made getting into the building unsafe for tenants.

"Obviously, nobody took a look at our block," she said. "We have to walk to the curb cut to get to our building. It's impossible for us to be safe with the way it is."

Usiak also said that the many tour buses and trucks that turn onto the street from Eighth Avenue often have to back up and re-adjust before they can continue down the street now that the bikes are blocking them.

The board asked the DOT to move the station further down the street, in front of Dr. Gertrude B. Kelly Playground, where it won't block any buildings.

Seniors were also a concern at the station on West 37th Street and 10th Avenue, which is just outside of a large residential building where seniors live in many of the 500 units.

Another rack, near Manhattan Plaza on West 43rd Street and 10th Avenue, shares the curb with a supermarket, hundreds of apartments, and a Saturday farmer's market, the board said.

On other blocks, the board said the streets are too narrow to hold the bike racks — at West 45th Street and Ninth Avenue, a station blocks loading docks to a large commercial building, piling up traffic near the Lincoln Tunnel when delivery trucks double-park.

The station on West 47th Street and 10th Avenue is on a street that's too narrow, the board says, and the one at West 52nd Street and Ninth Avenue takes away too much parking, since the block is already covered full of postal trucks and school buses.

The DOT did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but has previously said the stations were designed to be easily moved.

For Usiak, most of the issues would be solved just by moving the racks down the block by a few feet — but he wished he had been consulted on the West 17th Street station's location in the first place.

"Just think about where you put something," he said.

"Don't just shove it down our throats."