Photo by DDOTDC on Flickr.
It’s been fascinating to watch some of the coverage and debates over bike sharing in New York. In so many ways, it mirrors what happened in DC. At first, many people didn’t understand it or opposed it. Once it opened, fears faded away.
DC saw some contentious public meetings about whether stations belonged in certain neighborhoods. That’s all long gone. Now, when an ANC takes up bike sharing, it’s usually either to push for more stations or debate whether a station belongs in one spot or across the street.
New York started with the “don’t understand it” phase. Some, like Gothamist and Reuters’ Felix Salmon, first jumped on the fact that it will cost $77 in overtime fees to keep a “Citibike” for 4 hours. That is steeper than it needs to be, but it’s also looking at the wrong thing.
Very few people will keep a bike that long. The purpose of bike sharing is for short point to point trips, not long rentals. But a lot of folks initially placed the system into their mental box of “bike rentals,” and evaluated it accordingly. That’ll pass, if it hasn’t already, once people actually get to try using it.
Last night, at a public meeting in Brooklyn Heights, a few residents argued against bikeshare stations on their streets. Bikeshare supporter Mike Epstein (who’s also a personal friend) tweeted some of the objections from the meeting:
|Mike Epstein @mikepstein|
“This is a terrific idea” but “not compatible with residential streets” #bikenyc
|Mike Epstein @mikepstein|
This guy is afraid of a bikeshare station turning into a place for people to hang out, but says he likes the program and will join. #bikenyc
Has a single station in DC turned into a “place for people to hang out”? Not that I’m aware. But some people worried about that here, too.
A BID employee from Montague Street, in Brooklyn Heights, wanted to keep 5 parking spaces instead of add 39 bikeshare docks, while a MetroTech BID representative was pleased there aren’t stations in their area.
DC residents know what will happen:
|Bryant Turnage @turnageb|
They’ll eat those words once it’s live. RT @mikepstein “I love bike share, but I don’t want it on my block.” #bikenyc meets classic NIMBYism
|Kriston Capps @kristoncapps|
@turnageb @mikepstein It’s going to be so annoying when everyone comes around on #bikenyc and NYers are all so proud they invented bikeshare
The system will open, and residents will realize that bike sharing is nothing like their worst fears. Neighbors will clamor for stations. Actually, many already are. Residents in Park Slope, which isn’t getting Citibike yet, are eager for expansion.
Meanwhile, pass the popcorn.