Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Angry Cyclists Turn On Citi Bike For Eliminating Beloved Bike Rack

050113bikerack1.jpgGothamist Daily: Angry Cyclists Turn On Citi Bike For Eliminating Beloved Bike Rack

First Citi Bike came for the parking spaces, and we did nothing. Then they came for the parked cars, and some of us paid $250 cash to get our wheels back. Now they're coming for the bicycles, and IT'S WAR. In the greatest of ironies, some residents in Battery Park City are up in arms because Citi Bike is going to get rid of their bike rack.
Shelly Mossey, a longtime cyclist who owns the cargo bike delivery company Urban Mobility Project, tells us Citi Bike has promised to cut the locks of any bikes left attached to the bike rack on May 5th. But over his dead body! "People here are willing to go to jail if they try to cut one lock on Sunday," Mossey promises. "My neighbors use this bike rack with their children. Citi Bike is going to have to walk through our children and our families to get to that rack. They're going to have to forcibly remove us." ATTICA! ATTICA!

050113bikerack.jpgAs you can see from the photo above, the bike rack in question is pretty packed. Located at the North Wall of the 395 South End Ave building, Mossey says the rack is not on official Gateway Plaza property. "I would love to lock my bike inside Gateway Plaza but there's no room," Mossey explains. "The racks there are overloaded with bikes. It's a complex of six high rises in the middle of a huge construction project, and they have a lot of bike parking already. They've made an effort to provide more bike parking, but we still can't all fit."

Over twenty residents have signed a petition to save the bike rack, including Manon Chezallerau, a Battery Park City resident for eight years. Chevallerau, who hails from Amsterdam, tells us she's been riding her bike in NYC for 22 years. "Given the short notice, I think it's unacceptable to get rid of this bike rack," Chevallerau tells us. "I am for biking and I think the bike share program is fabulous. But I don't think it's right to remove a rack used by so many other bike riders. We don't have enough bike racks on the property at Gateway Plaza, so we're stuck!"
Mossey, who's been riding his bike for forty years in NYC, worries the city isn't ready for Citi Bike. "It's complete overkill," says Mossey. "They're doing this without a trial, they're putting too many bikes out, and I don't think drivers are ready for it. Bike lanes aren't set up correctly. It's dangerous out there if you don't know what you're doing. Is the city prepared to do something about the bike lanes and get all the double parked cars out of there? Because that's extremely dangerous!"
Mossey says he's tried to call the issue to the attention of the DOT, Citi Bike, Transportation Alternatives, and Gateway Plaza, but hasn't gotten much response. "They're bullying people at this point," Mossey tells us. "You don't take a bike rack away to promote cycling. We don't need Citi Bike. We could have a bike share in Gateway Plaza just with all the unused bikes locked up around here!"
The DOT did not respond to a request for comment [update below], but shorty after emailing the DOT's spokesman, we were contacted by Transportation Alternatives, whose spokesman, Michael Murphy, tells us, "It's a private bike rack. If the management of the building is doing nothing about derelict and abandoned bikes clogging up a rack, that's not really the City's problem—it's an issue between the tenants and their building.
"This is also a reflection of the growing demand for bike parking. Obviously tenants expect buildings like this one to provide and maintain that service. I hope more building managers take advantage of this opportunity to attract and retain tenants by making bike parking available and keeping it well-maintained."
Update: A DOT spokesman says, "A bike share location is being installed here at the request of the property owner and it is also supported by the BPCA. We understand that they are looking for an alternate location for the rack (which is not a DOT rack)."
The Battery Park City Authority did not respond for a request for comment. And so the stage is set for a dramatic showdown on Sunday, when Citi Bike stormtroopers march in to cut the locks, rip out the bike rack and set everything on fire discard the unclaimed bikes. Mossey says he isn't planning to handcuff himself to the bike rack, but he is willing to get arrested "to protect this bike rack," if it comes to that.