NY Times: City Unveils Locations of Bike-Share Stations
By MATT FLEGENHEIMER
May 11, 2012
Original Available Here
The bike-share stations will be pliable, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said — their assembly so simple that, if problems arise, docks can be removed without leaving a trace.
The first bicycles for hire are scheduled to hit the streets in late July.
And yet, with the program’s first 420 proposed locations unveiled on Friday, proponents say New York has taken a step toward a watershed moment in the transportation history of the city: Every few blocks throughout Midtown and Lower Manhattan, in splotches of northern Brooklyn and along a small slice of Queens, New Yorkers will have access to a new alternative for public travel.
The stations will appear on the sidewalks of Williamsburg and near the edge of the Hudson River, in parking lanes on Eighth Avenue and beside the plaza along Central Park South. Bicyclists who pay an annual membership fee of $95 will be able to shuttle between stations for up to 45 minutes without an additional charge.
For bike enthusiasts, the release of the maps was long-awaited. Others worried about the increased competition for precious street and sidewalk real estate. “I’m sick of this,” said Sophia Vailakis, 47, who travels from Broad Channel, Queens, to a job at a law firm in Manhattan. “A garage is $45 per day. There aren’t enough parking spaces.”
The Department of Transportation said it could not estimate how many parking spaces would be lost, because some station locations may change. The agency noted that many of the tentative street locations were previously designated as “No Standing” or “No Parking” areas anyway.
The first bikes are scheduled to reach the streets in late July.
By summer 2013, the city expects to have a fleet of 10,000 bikes, making it the largest such program in the country and one of the largest in the world, the city said.
The Transportation Department said it had received about 70,000 location suggestions and comments on its Web site, incorporating the feedback, as well as input from meetings with community boards and officials, in the decisions.
“New Yorkers created this plan, ” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner.
Mr. Bloomberg has called the process “the most extensive outreach effort ever done for a transportation project.”
Despite that, Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, whose district includes the Upper East Side, said she did not think most residents were aware of the upheaval to come. “Look, there’s going to be a major change to our streetscape,” she said. “Any kind of change elicits strong responses.”
The proposed locations include 420 of what is expected to be 600 stations in total. Site selection has not yet been completed in Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights in Brooklyn; the Upper West and East Sides of Manhattan; and Sunnyside in Queens.
Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side and parts of Hell’s Kitchen, said she had been informed in recent weeks that, initially, there would be no stations in most of her district.
“If it’s next spring, that’ll be O.K.,” she said. “They’re building something from scratch. It takes a lot of thought and planning.”
Rubén Díaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, said it was disappointing that no stations were in the Bronx. “In a borough with high asthma rates, I strongly believe our residents would highly benefit from this program, which aims to reduce air pollution and motivates residents to keep in good health,” Mr. Díaz said in a statement.
Seth Solomonow, a Department of Transportation spokesman, said there were no plans for stations in the Bronx or on Staten Island “right away” but that “they’re both viable at some point in the future.”
A Quinnipiac University poll released on Friday suggests New Yorkers may be ready to embrace the program; 64 percent of city voters said it was a good idea; 30 percent did not. Fifty-one percent, however, opposed more bike lanes in their own neighborhoods.
Anthony Faglione, 50, a contractor from Long Island who drives to Manhattan six days a week, seemed to understand the dueling viewpoints. “It’s bittersweet,” he said. “The bitterness is that motorists will lose spots. The sweet is that more people will be using nonmechanical transportation within the city.”
Andrew Kent, 22, a student at the School of Visual Arts, said the program would be a boon to bikeless scholars. But he said he was not likely to ride near his home on Lexington Avenue. “There’s too much traffic,” he said.
A couple of blocks east, in front of an area proposed for a bike docking station near the intersection of East 25th Street and Second Avenue, Tiffany Ralescu, 25, a dental student, said she was encouraged by the success of similar programs in Europe. New York’s version, she said, might even lure her into lands unknown.
“It would be a good opportunity to explore,” she said. “Maybe go to Brooklyn.”
Daniel Krieger contributed reporting.