FDNY: “We Haven’t Had Any Issues” With Bike-Share Locations

Republican mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota, on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show yesterday, said that while he didn’t “know this for a fact,” he views the bike-share program as an example of failed agency coordination in the Bloomberg administration, because he’d read press reports that people were complaining about new bike-share stations potentially impeding emergency response. Despite Lhota’s speculation, based off hysterical media reports, the Fire Department says they were consulted by DOT and that the stations have not been a problem.

Joe Lhota's speculation about bike-share coordination? Turns out not to be true. Photo: ##http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/joe-lhota-resign-mta-chairman-article-1.1223167##Daily News##

“You bring in the police commissioner and the fire commissioner and the DOT commissioner and you coordinate and you work out all of the issues related to, for example, where the bike racks are going,” Lhota said. “I don’t know if they’ve done that.”

Lehrer then asked, “So you’re for the bike-share program, but you think the racks aren’t being put in the right places because there was a bad decision-making process?”

Lhota continued:

It’s possible. There have been some articles about it already. You’ve got the bike racks, some that were in the Village, it was written up in one of the newspapers yesterday, that it’s you know, according to the article — I don’t know this for a fact — but they’re in violation of the fire code…Now, you could make this into a larger issue than it is…I’m all for the bike-share program, I’m for the bike lane programs, I’m not to be interpreted that I’m against it. But putting it in front of an entranceway of which emergency services use to rescue people, that’s insensitive.

In DOT’s report about the bike-share planning process, it lists NYPD and FDNY as “planning partners.” It also says that station sites “must not impede the use of…fire hydrants.”

Streetsblog checked with the Fire Department to see if New York’s Bravest had been consulted by DOT. “We gave to them our input,” a spokesperson said, adding that discussions took place at the battalion division or borough level, as the program’s initial phases will not be citywide, covering only parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

When Streetsblog asked if the stations have impeded fire access to buildings, the reply was simple: “We haven’t had any issues.”

Lhota, who as MTA chief spent some time sending an anti-bike tweet while Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the city last year, also claimed that a bike-share station in his own neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights is blocking emergency access to the Clark Street subway station.

A spokesperson in the MTA press office said this was the first time they had heard of this issue, and would get back to us with a reply. DOT’s report also lists the MTA as a planning partner. Update: “NYC DOT consulted with MTA New York City Transit during the process of siting bike-share stations,” MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan said via e-mail. “DOT presented a number of bike-share station siting options; we did not flag any issues with what they proposed.”

It’s not just the Fire Department and the MTA that were brought in during the bike-share station planning process. As WNYC’s Andrea Bernstein reported in a piece about Lhota’s remarks, “DOT held 400 community meetings at which participants chose sites for the bike share docks, and most community board managers have been effusive in their praise of the process.”

Lhota warned about making this “a larger issue than it is,” but what else do you call it when a mayoral candidate repeats unsubstantiated claims from ill-informed not-in-my-backyard types on the air?

  • Voter

    Bye-bye, data-driven and community-focused Bloomberg administration! From here on out it’s rule-by-gripe. May the loudest complainers with the best press contacts win!

  • J

    This solidifies it. Joe Lhota is the NY Post of mayoral candidates: Ill-informed, reactionary and regressive.

  • Jeff

    A donation-supported, niche blog has no problem reaching out to FDNY, the actual body with authoritative knowledge on this issue at hand, to get their perspective on emergency vehicle access. But this didn’t even occur to a widely-circulated, mega-conglomerate-backed daily? I have zero experience in journalism, but this just seems like basic, common sense.

  • Anonymous

    Classic cowardly politician’s rhetorical device: “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but what if ___________? You know, it’s possible.”

  • J

    Checking sources to makes sure you print accurate information?? Why, that would detract from the time it takes to track down inflammatory, anecdotal, and highly-speculative quotes.

  • Mark Walker

    His brief tenure at the MTA got my attention, but if rule-by-rumor is his idea of policy making, my attention is wandering. A pledge to reappoint JSK — or at least continue her slow transformation of our increasingly livable streets — would nail down my vote for sure.

  • Anonymous

    I know. I so want a livable streets advocate mayor. The latest crop is so parochial. I am going to miss Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Anonymous

    I know. I so want a livable streets advocate mayor. The latest crop is so parochial. I am going to miss Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Anonymous

    I know. I so want a livable streets advocate mayor. The latest crop is so parochial. I am going to miss Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Nimboid

    “DOT held 400 community meetings.” Apparently, that’s 8.2 million too few.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, so are the rest of the candidates — even liberal Bill De Blasio.

  • Anonymous

    They basically lumber through the streets, saying, in their best Solomon Grundy voices, “Me not Bloomberg! Me not Bloomberg!”

  • Forget JSK. She ruins this city.

  • John Q

    If you’re going to miss Mr Bloomberg, vote for his wife, Speaker Christine Bloomberg.

  • Anonymous

    That’s the old New York that the Baby Boomers keep complaining is gone. The old John Lindsay and Abe Beame New York City.

  • Gunnar

    I don’t know this for a fact, but I’ve heard that Joe Lhota is a complete asshole and tortures kittens in his spare time. It’s possible.

  • Anonymous

    So this prick is talking completely out of his ass, without even checking the actual facts.

    “I don’t know if they’ve done that.”

    So, if you don’t know then STFU, go check if they did and then open your mouth in public.

  • Dave

    We have seen DOT under JSK change the wording and intent of our NYC Street Design Manual from “NYC street design must meet FDNY requirements ….to NYC street design should consider FDNY requirements” — Is this in our best interest? Does she understand the ramifications of what she is doing? Is any obscure desires for our city streetscape worth safety compromises? Knee-jerk responses to what DOT is doing are understandable!

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