Citi Bike's big Memorial Day weekend rollout is just days away, but some people across the city are trying to slam on the brakes.
New Yorkers are famous for having seen it all, but the sudden appearance of bike racks has caused some quizzical looks of late. Come next week, these racks will be stocked with gleaming blue bikes available for anyone to use with the swipe of a credit card. Cycling and green transportation enthusiasts are thrilled, but not everyone is welcoming the development.
Criticisms leveled against the new program have ranged from saying the bikes are too heavy to calling them an outright safety hazard. A number of communities have already been successful in lobbying to have their local Citi Bike racks limited or removed, the New York Post reports—in one case mere hours after the first complaint, as an ambulance had difficulty reaching a 92-year-old West Village co-op resident in need of medical attention.
At least two more racks, also in the West Village, have been moved or whittled down in size in the last few weeks after complaints from neighborhood residents.
But cycling advocate Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke has been vocal in his opposition to the people he and fellow bike enthusiasts refer to as "NIMBY's," short for "Not In My Back Yard."
"I think it's going to be a really great addition to the city," Gordon said. "It's maybe not unlike being around at the dawn of the subway age when people didn't quite know what to expect."
Gordon predicted that the program would end up appealing to all types of people, for various reasons: those who struggle to carry a bike up the stairs of a walk-up, but are reluctant to leave their bike out on the street; those who would like to bike to a movie or a sports game without worrying about their bike sitting outside for hours; those who would like to bike to dinner and not have to think about how much they're drinking or where they'll want to go next.
"For me, one of the biggest positives is it in a way changes the definition and the discussion surrounding cycling," Gordon said. "It's not just people living in Brooklyn and cycling to their so-called 'hipster jobs.'"
Ultimately, Gordon anticipates the average Citi Bike user becoming "the guy from Jersey getting in to the Port Authority, or someone at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal biking a few minutes up the street to Wall Street."