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Citi Bike Station Removed From UES School's Play Street After Parent Outcry

By Shaye Weaver | November 24, 2015 12:10pm
 Parents of students at P.S. 290 were angry to see a new Citi Bike station outside of the school on Friday.
Citi Bike Station Outside P.S. 290
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UPPER EAST SIDE — A Citi Bike docking station has been removed from outside an elementary school where children hold their recess following an outcry from parents concerned about the dangers posed by the bikes. 

Parents rejoiced at the Department of Transportation's decision to remove the station from outside of P.S. 290 on East 82nd Street between First and Second avenues, where students play during recess and get dropped off and picked up from school.

"It's a nice holiday present," said Heather Greenberg, a parent of a fifth- and second-grader, who noticed the missing Citi Bike station on Sunday.

"My kids would tell me that balls would get stuck in there, but more so they would comment to me that just walking there, kids would be tripping on it and dogs would defecate in there. It was what we lawyers call an 'attractive nuisance' — an accident waiting to happen."

As part of Citi Bike's Upper East Side roll out, the DOT in September placed the docking station on the block, which is closed to traffic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to give students a place to play.

When the DOT originally installed the structure, parents and the school's PTA demanded that it remove the station because of it potential danger to the kids.

In response, local Councilman Ben Kallos said he'd work with the DOT to find a solution, though parents were told not to expect a change, according to Greenberg.

Kallos wrote a letter to Margaret Forgione, the DOT's Manhattan Borough Commissioner, noting the parents' concerns, even though he stated there was plenty of discussion about the siting of stations earlier this year.

The DOT decided to remove the station on Friday, however, after previously doing a walk-through of the street when it was being used by students, according to DOT officials.

The station will be relocated to a nearby street, but the DOT did not say where.

The next nearest stations are at East 84th Street and First Avenue, East 81st Street and York Avenue, and East 81st Street and Third Avenue, according to Citi Bike's interactive map.

Now parents and students say they are breathing easier.

"It's much safer," said Stephanie Sigal, a parent of a fifth-grader at P.S. 290. "My daughter said she felt that if they took the station away, there wouldn't be so many restrictions on their recess, like not being able to go so far, and there wouldn't be random people walking through the street. She was so happy [when the station was taken out]."

Lisa Altschuler, a parent of a fifth- and third-grader at the school, said she noticed some Citi Bike cyclists didn't get off their rides when going to and from the station.

"I think it's for the better," she said.

Greenberg, whose family uses Citi Bike, is grateful the DOT removed the station and hopes this is a lesson for those overseeing the bike-share program.

"I think that this idea of making New York City a city with different means of transportation is wonderful, but one that takes a lot of thought about how to do this safely," she explained. "Citi Bike is a profitable endeavor for the people that own it ... but it's a safety and community issue more than anything else and we need to think about bike lanes and where we're placing stations. If we don’t, we'll end up with someone dead or really hurt."