In this Wednesday, May 1, 2013 photo, docks for a new bike share program stand empty on MacDougal Street in New York. This month, New York will join the ranks of Paris, London, Madrid and Washington by enacting its first-ever bike share program.
While the Nice Ride bike-sharing program is beloved in the Twin Cities, the folks in New York City are not being very nice about the introduction of a similar system. Nothing against the bikes; it’s the bike stands that have New Yorkers up in arms.
That’s right, people who think nothing of throwing bags of garbage on the sidewalk are upset at having their space cluttered by bicycle racks.
The program, called CitiBike after its corporate sponsor, is set to begin operation on Monday. Its arrival hardly comes as a surprise to residents. When the program was in its planning stages, city administrators held 159 public meetings about it, generating more than 10,000 suggestions about where the rental kiosks should be located.
Nonetheless, when the kiosks — from the same company that makes ours — started being installed in mid-May, they generated a flood of angry calls. According to the New York Times, lawsuits have been threatened. The primary complaint is that the racks take up too much space, and this is before the bikes are in them.
The anger doesn’t surprise Nice Ride Executive Director Bill Dossett.
“Their sidewalks are smaller than ours, and the urban density — both employment and residential — is much higher,” he said. “We have one IDS Tower; they have an IDS Tower every block.”
Dossett said he’s been asked to move a couple of kiosks because they were interfering with truck loading zones, but most neighborhoods “view this as an asset.” He’s predicting that the same attitude eventually will prevail in New York.
“Give them six months,” he said. “London, which has the same density issues, ran into this with their program, too. But now the people love it.” □