Bike-Share Stations Don’t Usurp Parking — They Are Parking

Space hogs in Manhattan and Brooklyn are complaining about bike-share stations on neighborhood streets, and the powers that be are listening.

In a letter to DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, Assembly Member Dan O’Donnell complained about the much-anticipated rollout of Citi Bike on the Upper West Side.

Here’s an excerpt from O’Donnell’s constituent newsletter (hat tip to Peter Frishauf), which went out Wednesday:

First, the placement of Citi Bike’s docking stations and the resulting loss of parking spaces. Secondly, the lack of community input during a rather quick implementation process.

It is my hope that we can explore alternate solutions to restore critical parking spaces, and that increased dialogue with community will be a part of that exploratory process.

O’Donnell apparently believes parking for cars should be the default use for New York City curb space. He also seems to think the extensive public process for bike-share siting, which already happened, shouldn’t count because people are now griping about parking. All this in a district where more than 75 percent of households don’t own cars.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn Community Board 6 is inviting local residents to complain about bike-share docks in its district, which includes Park Slope and Cobble Hill, and has scheduled a hearing for October 20.

District Manager Craig Hammerman told Patch he’s “compiling a list of Citi Bike stations that residents have problems with,” and expects DOT to make changes based on those complaints.

Like every other neighborhood with bike-share, there’s already been a lengthy public process to site stations in these areas. Now, in the impossible quest to please everyone, CB 6 might drag out the grumpy phase that always accompanies bike-share expansion.

Most people in these neighborhoods are not car owners — curb uses like bike-share stations and bus stops should take precedence over people’s private vehicles. After all, bike-share stations don’t “usurp” parking, they are a spatially-efficient form of parking themselves, and in dense neighborhoods where sidewalk space is at a premium, the curb lane is where they ought to be.

While the pockets of anger that greet every bike-share expansion eventually fade as people become accustomed to the stations, it would be a mistake to brush off these attacks. On WNYC yesterday, Mayor de Blasio referred to parking “taken” by bike-share and, repeating an earlier remark, said every station is contingent on “how well used they are.”

“We put in these stations, and it is a test in each and every case to see how well used they are,” said de Blasio. “If they’re very heavily used, good. If they’re not, we can take them back out or we can alter them, or change locations.”

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