Andiamo Citi Bike Share!

The reactions to the first official day of Citi Bike Share are coming in from many media outlets and regular folks via social media. Gothamist takes the cake for the most curious (and gross) observation. What did they say? The bikes are crawling with germs. Here are their suggestions for sanitary use of the two wheelers:

According to TreeHugger (who are opposed to bike condoms because bacteria is good for you or whatever) these are popular amongst the bike-sharing set in Barcelona. Just slip the protective layer on to the handles and toss them in the trash when you’re done. The DIY version of this is to use plastic bags.
Why didn’t Citi Bike install Purell stations at their bike racks? Just carry your own travel size bottle with you (which you are probably already doing if you got this far into a article about germs).
You probably won’t catch anything from someone else’s sweat fluids traveling through layers of your clothing, but maybe it would be nice to wipe down the seat anyway, for your own mental health. Carry around some antibacterial wipes with you and everything will be okay. (The aforementioned DIY plastic bag solution would also work for the seat.)

And, of course, there’s the saga “Dr. Frank” Arroyo the Lower East Side bike shop owner who a certain newspaper believes is a victim of the evil Citi Bike scheme:

NY Post: Arroyo said the city didn’t bother to consult him before installing a kiosk so close to his storefront.

Before the kiosk went up, in sight of Arroyo’s shop, he was planning to build up his rentals.

“It has become more and more of a year-round business,” he said. “You got tourists that come, and Europeans especially are used to using bikes year-round. It’s a growing business.”

Now he has to change gears.

“I’m going to have to concentrate on where I can make more income to make up for the potential loss,” he said.

Arroyo wishes the city had partnered with local bike shops for the program.

“It would’ve been nice if [Citi Bike] would’ve had a program teaching young people how to fix bikes,” he said.

Meanwhile, here in Brooklyn Heights, a handful of residents aren’t giving up the fight against the bike-share program. Brooklyn Paper reported Monday that 140 Cadman Plaza West resident Keith Klein—whose building met with a Councilman Steve Levin rep in mid-May—is asking why they weren’t consulted about rack placement. He believes bikes would have been better placed in Cadman Plaza Park, instead of the front of his building.

“We were told there was extensive community outreach prior to placement of each station,” Klein told Brooklyn Paper. “Fact is, not one person on our Board or any staff member of our building or building’s management company knew anything about this until the day the racks appeared. This installation blocks access to the main door of the building, not just from a cab when you have luggage, or your car when you are unloading shopping bags, but access for emergency vehicles. This is a critical situation and rather shocking that no one thought it through.”

Residents of 150 Joralemon Street, as previously reported, have sued the city over racks placed there, claiming they are blocking garbage collection.

Other reports on day one of the program include: New York Times, Business Insider, Wall Street Journal, U.K.’s Guardian, NY Daily News and WNYC. Tech blog Gizmodo predicts that the program will create a huge bike culture in New York City.

Publisher’s note: This post has been modified and edited since its original publish. Comments below may reflect opinons of earlier version.

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  • Clintonious Wow

    Buildings don’t own the sidewalk or street.

    I wish BHB covered more of the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the program, but maybe controversy brings the clicks and revenue to keep the blog going, so that’s ok too.

  • Quinn Raymond

    The negative BHB coverage of this issue has really baffled me. The people complaining about this represent only a small minority, yet BHB has given them a disproportionate amount of attention.

    I took a bike for a ride yesterday and it was fantastic. I obeyed traffic laws, wore a helmet, and didn’t manage to get any pedestrians (or myself) killed. Don’t knock it until you try it!

    The Bike Share is extremely beneficial to both local residents and businesses, and there will be a much bigger uproar if they try to further reduce stations in our area.

  • Bloomy

    Funny how negative the coverage has been on the blog, yet yesterday while riding from Montague & Clinton down to Brooklyn Bridge Park and back I had tons of people saying how cool the bike was. At almost every light people came up to me to see it and ask about membership. Not one person has a negative response.

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    Buildings don’t own the sidewalk? Oh, really?

  • PB

    While I haven’t signed up (yet) I saw over a dozen bikes in use yesterday in just a short walk.

    I also noticed that the Hicks and Montague rack was down to 1 bike this morning so clearly it’s in use and I was heartened to see some CitiBike workers restocking the rack at Noon AND an idiot who parked in front of the rack (blocking some empty docks from being restocked) had a $115 ticket.)

  • PB

    And another thought… For the several dozen negative voices we’ve heard through this blog and a few other publications… aren’t their cries drowned out by the 17,000(!) people who are so in favor of the bike system that they already paid $95 dollars to use it?!?

  • Bill Orme

    The Citibike rack at Columbia Heights & Cranberry was empty almost all day, due to first-day demand. People riding by on the shiny blue bikes were greeted by smiles, not snarls. This grumpy BHB NIMBY riff is getting old.

  • e

    not sure what this reply post is supposed to mean. buildings have liability for sidewalk defects and snow and ice, but that doesn’t mean they get to decide how the sidewalk is used, or exclude people or bike racks, etc. — those decisions are up to the city.

  • Eddyde

    That doesn’t mean the building “owns” the sidewalk, only that the owner is responsible for its maintenance.

  • JB11201

    Many of the program’s detractors (myself included) have no issue with the spirit of the program, but rather the placement of the racks. In my opinion, alternate locations that do not impact the taking away of parking spaces and loading zones should have been used.

  • petercow

    Less than 1% of parking spots were taken by Citibike. Free on-street parking is not a privilege bestowed by God. Get over it.

  • Eddyde

    “Buildings don’t own the sidewalk or street”

    Exactly, I live in a large apartment building that has metered parking along the entire frontage, there are cars and trucks parked there almost continuously. We have no special zone for loading, unloading or emergency vehicles, nor do most buildings. This Keith Klein guy needs to take a reality pill and get over his fanciful feelings of entitlement.

  • petercow

    NYPD: 1,192 pedestrians and cyclists injured, 11 killed, by NYC drivers in April.

  • Reggie

    “no one thought it through”

    I am endlessly amused by the logic, if your thinking did not reach the same conclusion as mine, you did not think it through.

  • Greg

    Parking spaces are being added, not removed. Bicycle parking is a far more efficient use of that street space than auto parking.

    I think a fair balance of parking allocation is reasonable – there’s no valid reason to dedicate 100% of street parking space to automobile parking, given the sizable resident population that doesn’t get around by car.

    With these new stations, the vast vast majority of parking space is still dedicated to automobiles AND we’ve increased parking spaces overall by dedicating a small minority of space to Citi Bike users.

    That seems like a very fair balance, in a neighborhood where different people get around by different means.

    Your loading zone argument is an interesting one, though. It does seem we should try to preserve our loading zones.

  • MonroeOrange

    so your point is that more bike riders riding without helmets will increase this percentage…then yes i agree with you…once again, great planning by the city.

  • petercow

    Statistics show that more bikers on the street mean safer streets for both pedestrians and cyclists.

    And helmets do not factor into that.

  • Chuck Taylor

    what in the world are you talking about, quinn? there’s no spin whatsoever on my reporting. i’m offering a novel tale about a bike theft, bringing in the heights perspective, then providing links to numerous media outlets, the vast majority of whom are wholly positive about the bike-share launch. did you really read my story or just see what you wanted to?


  • Chuck Taylor

    bloomy — i hope you’ll read my comment to quinn above. BHB’s “negative coverage” is in your head, baby.


  • Bloomy

    Chuck, your article has 5 paragraphs about what I would call bad or “negative” aspects of the bike program. If I want to see a positive aspect I have to look to the last paragraph, and then actually follow a link away from the story. At least to me, it is a bit biased.

  • Joe A

    Our resident curmudgeon!

  • Quinn Raymond
  • Joe A

    Some (guess who) have suggested that no one will use the bike share program because it is 1) too expensive 2) too dangerous 3) bikes are crappy 4) because they themselves would never use it and they cannot possibly put themselves in someone else’s shoes due to an extraordinarily lack of awareness and mental acuity.

    But, lo and behold, apparently over 6,000 trips were taken in little more than 12 hours. 14,000 miles traveled. Guess that argument will be hard to sustain.

    The Citi Bike share program was launched on Monday morning by Mayor Bloomberg.

    By 7p.m. that night the bulky blue bikes had been rented out more than six thousand times and cyclists had pedaled a combined distance of almost 14,000 miles.

  • PB

    Chuck, as a reader of this blog since week one, take my word for it — coverage of bike share here has come across as extremely biased.

    This article alone has a headline citing theft, starts with the word “whoops”, and has 5 lengthy paragraphs of negative coverage before a one sentence final paragraph linking to what we’re told is positive coverage.

    If you can’t see how that’s biased you might want to seek the opinion if a trusted friend — maybe they can explain it to you.

  • brooklynheightsblog

    PB – your status as a long time reader is well know to us and thanks for your comment. As you see we’ve updated the post above to be more of an omnibus of local coverage, twitter reaction etc to the bike share program.

    We’ve taken some flack for previous posts (my favorite kerfluffle was over this post: ) but regardless of the content of any bike related post the BHB community has voiced its opinion strongly on both sides of the issue. We’re a blog. Our job is to stimulate conversation about local issues. We’ve done that here.

    Now about Chuck’s gift for hyperbole… that’s another story.

  • David on Middagh

    How do you explain the racks/kiosk blocking the pedestrian crossing at the base of Clinton St.?

  • Quinn Raymond

    Thanks for making an effort with the edits– it’s appreciated.

  • PB

    Bravo to you chuck. The rewrite is MUCH more balanced.

  • Joe A

    Excellent point.

  • E

    Chuck: surely you are kidding that there is no spin here. Today’s post starts by parroting an item about germs on the citibikes? Surprise – a negative focus!
    (Love the BHB, by the way, apart from on this issue, where all pretense of fairness seems to have gone out the window . . . . )