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Controversial SoHo Citi Bike Station Can Stay, Judge Rules

By Dana Varinsky | October 25, 2013 12:30pm
 A controversial Citi Bike docking station in SoHo's Petrosino Square.
A controversial Citi Bike docking station in SoHo's Petrosino Square.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

SOHO — The controversial Citi Bike station in Petrosino Square can remain in place, a Manhattan judge ruled this week in the first legal victory for the Department of Transportation's bike share program.

Opponents of the bike-docking station in the triangular park at Spring and Lafayette streets sued the DOT in June, saying the green space should be dedicated to public art installations instead of commuter bikes.

But Judge Cynthia Kern dismissed the suit, ruling Thursday that bike share stations are an appropriate use of park spaces like Petrosino Square.

"Bicycling is an important form of recreation that has had a proper 'park purpose' for many years," she wrote in her decision the residents' lawsuit. "The infrastructure to support bicycling, such as bike paths, bicycle racks and rest stations are common incidents in parks."

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan applauded the decision.

"The court's decision is a victory for the hundreds of riders who use this station every day,"  she said.

However, the station's opponents say the fight is not over.

"It is an incorrect decision," said Georgette Fleischer, founder of Friends of Petrosino Square, who added that the group intends to appeal the decision. "We're obviously very disappointed, but we feel hopeful that when we go before the First Department, that reason will reign and we will get our park back."

Petrosino Square was overhauled in 2011, which made the appearance of the Citi Bike kiosk an especially sore subject for some neighborhood activists.

"Here we put all this work into getting it expanded and renovated and then the DOT comes in in the middle of the night and takes it from us," Fleischer said.

Jim Walden, the lawyer representing the residents, said he is confident the appeals court will see the issue differently, since Kern ruled the square qualified as parkland, and Walden believes there are many other places the city could have put the station.

"Any objective observer would say there’s something about this that doesn’t smell right here," he said.