It’s Too Late to Preserve NYC’s Historic Streets in Amber

Photo sim of a Citi Bike station in Fort Greene: ##http://fort-greene.thelocal.nytimes.com/2012/06/08/washington-park-residents-bike-share-location-is-wheely-bad/##The Local##

Last week the Times’ Local blog (now run by former Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman) ran a piece about some Fort Greene residents who think bike-share stations would “interfere” with the historic district:

“The [kiosk is] much too large and out of place for [this block],” said Wyatt Cheek. “We just want it to be at a location that doesn’t interfere with [residents].” He added, “The notion of having Citi Bike logos…will go against the [landmark] character.”

Tweaking the station location might make Wyatt Cheek’s complaint fade away, but fundamentally, New Yorkers need bike-share stations on residential streets in order to get much use out of the system. Otherwise, a lot of people won’t be able to take the bikes from home to the supermarket or to get to work. Brownstoner pretty much nailed the response yesterday: “Our take? Deal with it.”

In addition, I have bad news for anyone who thinks bike-share stations will ruin the “landmark character” of streets that were first developed in the 19th Century: Objects from the 21st Century are already stationed all over the curb lanes of historic districts.

This thing was parked on the same side of Cumberland Street where the Fort Greene NIMBYs think a bike-share station is inappropriate:

Some of these things parked on Cumberland Street are the same royal blue as Citi Bikes:

And a lot of them basically function as rolling, logo-laden advertisements for massive global brands:

Did I mention the ear-splitting alarms that go off at 3 a.m.? Citi Bike doesn’t do that.

Hat tip to Doug Gordon at Brooklyn Spoke, who posted some more historically incongruous pictures from Fort Greene on Sunday.

  • fishbowl

    Knock out the phone and subway entrance ads, then we can talk.

  • Anonymous

    I assume they’re also against the blue-branded mailbox in the first picture?

    Seriously, I’m second to none in my hatred of the branding of those bikes, but this is such a myopic, easily mockable argument it almost doesn’t feel worth it. Except that we can’t let them get away with it this once, without having to fight it over and over and over.

  • Historian

    Great post.  The blue Volvo alone totally demolishes this absurd argument.

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to become NIMBYs.

  • Anonymous

    The Citibike logo IS hideous. Why did the city sign off on such a corporate-dominated bikeshare program? Around the world bikeshare systems run just fine without such crass corporate sponsorship.

  • J

    @OaktownBman:disqus Bikeshares across the planet have sponsors. Montreal is sponsored by an Aluminium mining company, and Boston’s is sponsored by New Balance. DC is now looking into sponsors to close operating budget gaps and fund expansion.

    We could have a non-sponsored bikeshare, but then someone would have to pony up the $40+ million to pay for the thing. With god-awful political support for biking in NYC anyway and perennially thin budgets, I just don’t see how that would have happened.

  • Guest

    Let’s not forget the ridiculous TURBOSPEED window decals or even better, Calvin pissing on a fire hydrant or “My Child is an honor student at XYZ Elementary” stickers for preserving historic character.

  • History Buffy

    THANK YOU.

    Soooo….  sick of Brownstone Brooklyn variety anti-livable streets NIMBY’s. 

  • Anonymous

    I love the myopia of the commenters who were like, “I don’t have a problem with Bikeshare, but it should be limited to commercial areas”

    HEELLLLOOOO.  How are you going to get your groceries home from the commercial area!  I’ve got a bike share station coming outside my apt . . . and I can’t f—ing wait.  There’s one outside my apt, one near my gym/wholefoods, one near the soccer pitch I use and one near my office. 

    I’ll never have to deal with bringing my locks with me and I can’t wait for the increased mobility (should I bike or train) since I won’t have to be tethered to my personal bike, on days I choose to bike. 

  • kevd

    JarekAF
    You had me until “Soccer pitch” you Europhile!
    Also, I WISH I had one outside my apt., or even in my neighborhood. Someday, right?

  • USbike

    J  That is true, a lot (if not all) the bike share systems are privately funded.  London’s bikes have Barclay on them, but the Velib from Paris does not have JCDecaux all over them or the stations.  I remember reading that in return they were allowed a good amount of space to advertise, such as on billboards, etc.  Personally I would prefer that every bike not carry the sponsor’s name, but rather give them more billboards to advertise on or something.  
    I don’t know which is worse in the grand scheme of things.  

    But back on topic.  The argument here is ridiculous, and the article does a great job pointing that out, visually.  Part of the problem may be that the complainers see no utility out of the bikes (at least for the time being).  Either they are owners of some of those cars or they realize that to attribute the aesthetics (or lack of) of a historic street to the presence of cars is a battle that has long been lost.  

  • JAK

    Probably ought to remove those trees too.  They can’t be more than like 50 years old.  This neighborhood was most certainly not established in the 60s.  Plus, they are blocking the view of the brownstones.

  • JAK

    Oh, one more thought, Citigroup was founded in 1812.  So be glad you are getting that instead of Verizon or something 😉

  • krstrois

    Aesthetics NIMBYs can sometimes be persuaded by a social justice argument. They are way easier to disarm than the aggrieved machine politician NIMBY subtype of PPW. I think this one is gonna be ok.

     

  • Eric McClure

    Shouldn’t those worried about the landmark character of their block be out there with paint eradicating the graffiti on the mailboxes?

  • Pbsinnyc2

    New Yorkers do not need a bike sharing program in the first place.  You, your organization, your supporters, and your allies ( OpenPlans, Transportation Alternatives, NYCDOT, David Byrne, etc. ) are pushing a scheme that’s going to hurt the long-term livable streets goals for NYC.  I’m going to prove it in the future, but I’ll give you a clue now, “systems design”.  One goal in “systems design” is to try to solve as many problems as possible with as few solutions as possible, and in the process to not introduce any new problems that may be of significance.

    The NYC bike sharing program is an attempt to make the streets more livable by providing an alternative to motorized vehicles.  Unfortunately, it also introduces ad pollution to the streets.

    You are supposedly in support for livable streets, yet you support a bike sharing program that promotes ad pollution.  The ad pollution is clearly depicted in the sim picture of the bike sharing station adorned with CitiBike advertisements that you included in this article.

    Bike sharing stations are stationary, so the CitiBike advertisements on them are going to be a permanent eye sore on the streets, whereas cars are temporarily stationed at their spot with no advertisements on them.  In addition, when the bikes are not stationed, they’re going further pollute the streets with CitiBike advertisements on them.

     

  • Pbsinnyc2

     For the record, I’ll be fighting the car companies too.

  • Anonymous

    “Ad pollution”, oh, the horror!

    The ad in the kiosk is not any worse than what you see in a payphone. I never heard anyone complain about ads on payphones before, but I suppose some people lose a lot of sleep over them too. I guess those people are happy now that payphones are an endangered species.

    The logo on the bike is only noticeable if you are actively looking for it, not being much different than logos on cars, or even on private bikes.

    If I had to rank the quality of life issues I face in the city, ad pollution would be right after the Mayor’s failure to personally hand-deliver me a free pizza every day.

    Sure, it would be even nicer if there were no ads. But I think the benefits of bikeshare outweigh this cosmetic drawback by several orders of magnitude.

  • bill b

    Those are nice cars for Cumberland st . how the neighborhood has changed in the last 35
    years .
    People have concerns how the mayor’s bike share will impact their neighborhood, it is good they are speaking up either in support or against it.
    The mayor should locate a large docking station in front of his house to show all New Yorkers that bike share is good even for billionaires.
     

  • Shemp

    I thought this nut-job (“I’ll prove it in the future”) was banned ? ?

  • Mike

    Pbsinnyc2 has been imminently about to prove that bike share is a bad idea for months (years?), but somehow hasn’t yet.
    Occam’s Razor suggests he/she is just a troll.

  • Sometimes the trolls figure out how to circumvent the spam controls. Being such a persistent troll, “Pbsinnyc2” will no doubt resurface as “Pbsinnyc3” at some point.

  • Ben Kintisch

    I like the look of these bikes and the bike stations much better than all of the silly SUV’s parked on my block. Can’t wait till these stations come to my historic Bed-Stuy neighborhood! (Even if we’re not landmarked, the homes around here are definitely historic.)

  • Anonymous

    Practical bicycles were invented in the 1870’s, the same decade most of these brownstones were built.  And bicycles were extremely popular in Brooklyn for two decades from 1880 through 1900.
    Conversely,  cars were not commonly parked on the streets until the 1950’s.

    Therefore, bicycles are far more historically appropriate to the Washington Park neighborhood streets than horseless carriages.

  • Hilda

    I live on this block, I own a historic brownstone, and I would love to have one of these in front of my house. As it is there are three, including this one, not so far away, so that helps.
    But I am a bit confused, because when looking at the DRAFT kiosk location from NYC bikeshare website, this station shows up on the sidewalk on the Ft. Greene park side.http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/bikeshare/files/2012/06/bikeshare-draft-stations-20120608-bq-11.pdf

    If this kiosk was in the street on the Ft. Greene Park side, it would help with park users crossing the street; being able to see the oncoming traffic at the intersection of Willoughby and Washington Park. Am I looking at the right map? 

  • Mike

    Hilda: the bike share station maps seem to have changed since they were originally posted.  4th & Dean is gone; Lafayette & Fort Greene was added; etc.

  • Crazyone

    Is there a reason why you can’t reply to individual posts on here, I thought you were able to do that before?  Anyways……..

    “I thought this nut-job (“I’ll prove it in the future”) was banned ? ?” — Shemp

    After reading your reply, I can’t help but think about this quote…..

    “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote
    them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing
    you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the
    human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

    Btw, I’m not a fan of the company who came up with this quote, but I
    must admit they’re really good at marketing.  The livable streets
    community needs more of the crazy ones.

  • Hilda

    The Local’s photo is a total sham. The bike share station that is and was proposed at the time of the original article is on the sidewalk, on Ft. Greene Park side. Besides, it is also totally out of scale, even my extra long cargo bike would not take a whole parking lane width if parked like that.
    Glad to see ANOTHER station on Lafayette. Lafayette may have most of any street in Brooklyn. Better get some bike infrastructure there…http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/bikeshare/files/2012/06/bikeshare-draft-stations-20120608-bq-11.pdf

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  • Philipneumann

    “… in Amber.” God I hope that’s a Fringe reference 🙂

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