Eyes on the Street: The Case of the Vanishing Bike Shelter

dyckmanshelterarray.jpgNow you see bike infrastructure, now you don’t. Photos: Brad Aaron

Last October, DOT installed Inwood’s first bike shelter on Dyckman/200th Street at Broadway. A little over a week ago, it disappeared without a trace.

According to a blurb in the Manhattan Times, a spokesperson with DOT said the shelter was removed due to lack of use. Though there are three "U" racks on the same block, this doesn’t make a lot of sense in light of agency efforts to encourage cycling by making bike parking more accessible — especially considering the relatively short span of time the shelter had been in place.

One rumor swirling about the neighborhood is that a Dyckman Street restaurateur desirous of sidewalk cafe space had a hand in the shelter’s banishment, as it was situated in front of his newest location, now under construction. But even if that were true — we’ve seen no evidence to support such a theory — it’s hard to imagine DOT would uninstall a piece of infrastructure at the request of a single business owner.

Community Board 12 wasn’t consulted on the change, transportation committee chair Mark Levine told Streetsblog.

Given Inwood’s general lack of bike racks, and with livable streets advocates about to embark on the third year of their campaign for safer cycling conditions on Dyckman, we’re extremely curious as to why this shelter was taken away. As of this writing, however, two queries to DOT have brought no response.

  • James

    What’s most ironic is that the shelter was directly across from Tread Bike Shop, the one decent bike shop serving Upper Manhattan and the Northwest Bronx. There has to be more to this story than meets the eye as this directly contradicts NYCDOT’s stated objectives of facilitating bicycle usage.

  • …”it’s hard to imagine DOT would uninstall a piece of infrastructure at the request of a single business owner.”

    They would if the owner greased enough palms.

  • I still don’t see how these new bike rack shelters can even produce much in the way of “shelter”. The roof barely overhangs the bicycles parked underneath.

    While they may work as bus shelters, without significant modification to make them bike shelters they are noting but non-functioning eye-candy to me.

  • Jen

    James, it was actually closer to Broadway so a short block away from Treads, but close enough. But this is really disappointing because I thought the rack was in a great location: right by the park and the greenway for bikers from other neighborhoods to take a break and patronize local businesses, right by the subway too for Inwood folks hopping on the train, and it’s the only one in the area I’ve seen that’s covered. So if it turns out the owner was involved, that’s a shame that he’d rather cater to car driving patrons.

    I’m wondering if the fact this area is also used for trucks and deliveries contributed?

  • Bob

    Andy B,
    If you’ve ever come out to unlock your bike on a rainy/sleety day and had to ride on a soaked and freezing saddle, you’ll understand the attraction of a bike shelter, even a limited one.

    It may not hermetically seal the bikes from the weather, but it still prevents a lot of the unpleasantness of parking your bike outside in inclement weather and coming back to find it drenched.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Theres a shelter in Sunset Park 4th Ave. next to a subway stop, must have fifty bikes locked and sheltered.

  • I don’t live in Inwood, but biked the neighborhood several times in the summer and used that very shelter at least twice. Both times, the shelter was populated with bikes, not overflowing, but certainly far off from being in disuse.

  • Kurt

    From the looks of the photo, it was on/near the NW corner of Dyckman and Broadway?

  • Bob,

    My bike is parked outside my office in Jersey right now so I know what is like. All I’m saying, “If your gonna’ do it, do it right!”

  • sid

    In Montreal the Pizzadelic restaurant got the bike parking removed from the corner in front of its building, so they could build an expanded terrace. his parking was located directly on the bike path that crossed this street. In the several years since, this convenient bike parking location has NOT been replaced. I should say that Montreal’s bike parking situation has improved tremendously in the past 5 years.

  • I would not discount the theory that the aforementioned restaurant group owner had a hand in its removal. Given how immigrant, working class communities receive less amenities than better off areas I would not be surprised if it was simply moved to Riverdale, Forest Hills or Park Slope.

  • @Andy B: Yeah, this is hardly a bike “shelter”. Let alone the cemusa-designed bus shelters hardly protect its occupants from rain or snow with its higher than original roofs

  • Emily Litella

    Somebody somewhere wielded influence. The sidewalk width is quite generous and the lack of demand argument is laughable. The cost of installation and de-installation is at least $10,000, which falls to the street furniture franchisee.

  • I suppose the bike shelter is also about giving the cyclist ‘piece of mind’. I know i’d feel a lot happier chaining my bike to a purpose built rack than a tree or lamp post, even if it was to get wet. It’s a shame to see something, that would have cost money to be erected, be taken down (at further expense) when its causing no obvious harm.

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