Transit Sam on Citi Bikes, week of June 6, 2013

Citi Bike riders on the first day, May 27. Downtown Express file photo by Jefferson Siegel Citi Bike riders on the first day, May 27.

Citi Bike riders on the first day, May 27. Downtown Express file photo by Jefferson Siegel
Citi Bike riders on the first day, May 27.

Dates: Thursday, June 6 – Tuesday, June 11


 Here’s Transit Sam’s review of New York City’s new bike share program after 8 rides throughout Downtown:

1-      These are good-looking bikes that ride and handle great.

2-      Stations are ubiquitous in Lower Manhattan meaning many taxi and subway trips I take now could be done by bike share.

3-      I lost one of my regular parking spaces on MacDougal St. but this is worth it.  I love having a station around the corner and another a block from my office in NOHO.

4-      First-time use can be confusing if you head to the kiosk instead of the bike.  The kiosk should state “if you already have a key go to any bike, place the key in the slot, wait for the green light and lift and pull from the seat.”

5-      The bike horn is hidden below the left handlebar.  I only found it when another rider saw me at a signal looking around and came to my aid.  A word message on the handlebar pointing to the horn would help.  The horns are barely audible in traffic; on one bike I tried I could barely hear it even when the background was quiet.

6-      Be careful upon return.  You need to shove the bike in and wait to hear a whirr sound and hopefully see a green light.  I didn’t always get that and found if I yanked hard I could get my returned bike out so I keep shoving hard till I couldn’t get it out anymore.

7-      I’ve had a few problems getting bikes out; sometimes the FOB works, sometimes it doesn’t.

8-      I’ve noticed a few docking stations taped; I am worried about the durability of this system.  Time will tell.

9-      Every bike share user I observed rode with traffic and stopped at red lights.  Hopefully, this behavior will rub off on other cyclists (by the way, they are getting better).

10-  By next year we won’t remember life without Citi Bike.

In short, Citi Bike will change Lower Manhattan for the better.  We now have a new form of transportation that fits beautifully with our narrow streets and dense land use.  I applaud Mayor Bloomberg and D.O.T. Commissioner Sadik-Khan for paving the way (so to speak).

The Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Block Party will fully close Eldridge St. between Canal and Division Sts. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.


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18 Responses to Transit Sam on Citi Bikes, week of June 6, 2013

  1. Thanks for the tips, Sam.

    Btw, do you have an opinion on whether DOT should remove the CitiBike station from Lt. Petrosino Park in eastern SoHo, a space specifically dedicated for the exhibition of public art?

    You note you use the rentals on MacDougal Street. Are you aware that DOT stubbornly refused all pleas to move the rental station from Fr. Fagan Park, the tiny neighborhood park on the other side of Prince Street from where the rental station is now on Macdougal? As you likely know, Fr. Fagan Park is a memorial park to a priest who sacrificed his life to go into a burning building to save others.

    It was only when the pastor of St. Anthony’s denounced DOT in the press as “disrespecting the Catholic Church” did DOT relent.

    Since Lt. Petrosino Park is also dedicated to a hero, a NYPD detective assassinated by the Mafia, and since it is one of the few places downtown for the display of public art, do you agree with just about everyone that the bike rentals should be moved into Lafayette Street and give the public back its art space?

    Can you please use your connections at DOT to find out why the agency won’t restore the art space from CitiBikes?

    • I'll take a ride over to Lt. Perosino Park (as soon as it stops raining) to see if I can find a more suitable place nearby. I'll then contact the DOT. Thanks for the background on why the racks were never placed in Father Fagan Park.

    • "Give the public back its art space?" Funny, by protesting in the park, you and your cohorts have proven that there's still plenty of room for artistic expression in Petrosino. Enough already.

      • Look at that space at the northern tip of Petrosino Square, which you call "plenty of room" – it's an awkward, narrow space left over from the much larger space that was taken by DOT for the bike station. NYC Parks made the original and binding decision about how much space should be dedicated to art displays at Petrosino Square: 3,200 sf of open plaza, with ample room for pedestrians to view the installations.

        The fact that you so freely feel that either you or DOT has the authority to lay claim to dedicated public park land, and thereby alienate public space created & designed for free expression & public enjoyment, raises some troubling questions about how the placement of the bike station in Petrosino Square came about.

  2. Art Love, "Just about everyone"? The funny thing is, the protesters used public art to demonstrate that there is still plenty of room for the display of public art. Wasn't that counterproductive?

    I am in favor of moving all of these stations to street areas where on-street parking currently exists.

    • "Still plenty of room for the display of public art"??


      The full northern open triangle at Petrosino Square, which was built with tax payer funds and specifically designed to remain wide open for viewing of art installations, covers about 3,600 square feet. After DOT put in the bike share rack, all that remains of the very diminished open space is about 900 sf at the very northern end. That's only 1/4 of the dedicated art space as set down by NYC Parks. That small space is not large enough for the type of bold and visible art installations that are the tradition at Petrosino Square.

      The right thing to do is to re-locate these bike racks to a nearby roadbed outside of this little public park.

      Read about the history of 30 years of public art in Petrosino, here, in The Villager:

      Petrosino Square has seen its share of public art displays

      Instead of digging in your heels to try and prove your bad argument, why not admit a mistake has been made by DOT at Petrosino Square, and work to solve it?

  3. “Just about everyone”?

    That’s right, even Transit Sam is helping to find a “more suitable space”. Why not you? What have you and Chris got against public art?

    Besides Transit Sam, the following have also come out against the CitiBike rentals in Petrosino: Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, State Senator Dan Squadron, Borough President Scott Stringer, Community Board 2, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Friends of Petrosino Square, Little Italy Merchants Assn, Little Italy Neighborhood Assn, Sons of Italy in America, SoHo Alliance, Little Italy Restoration Assn, Storefront for Art and Architecture, as well as countless local artists and arts organizations.

    The fact is there is not enough room currently in Lt. Petrosino Park to mount the large public art exhibits the site formerly hosted. Having a model pose for a handful of sketchers, as downtown art lovers have been doing in protest of DOT’s intransigence, requires only a few square feet, not the large, open, spacious area a public project requires and deserves. Capice?

    The Villager this week has a fine article showing the 30-year history of Art in the park.

    The Villager editorial this week also asks DOT to simply move the huge rental station into wide Lafayette Street, which can easily handle it.

    Yet DOT refuses to move the station, offering no explanation or response for its decision. Why?

    Finally, Lt. Petrosino Park, like Fr. Fagan Park, is dedicated to a hero who died trying to help others. It is a memorial park, not unlike the WTC Memorial. Would you and DOT support a CitiBike rental there? Of course not? So why in our local memorial parks?

  4. Lora Tenenbaum

    Hi Sam, I've been totally flummoxed as to why the DOT won't simply move the bike dock from Petrosino Square and into the streetbed nearby. Given that the FDNY has said its okay, and the spot gets sufficient sunlight, the northeast side of Lafayette Street, at Spring Street seems ideal (although the northwest corner seems fine as well). The DOT's placement in the park negates so many of their stated goals and placement rules. They promote open plazas and art, yet they have taken that from our community in order to install bike parking; they say they won't interfere with pedestrian pathing, yet this dock does exactly that. They say they will not place it within 3 feet of tree pits, yet they did. They say don't ride on sidewalks, yet the placement here actually encourages such riding. It just makes no sense. Moving the bike docks into the street nearby would be a win-win for us all.

    By the way, I had the honor to work with you on the Canal Street Task Force more than a decade ago.

  5. Finally, Lt. Petrosino Park, like Fr. Fagan Park, is dedicated to a hero who died trying to help others. It is a memorial park, not unlike the WTC Memorial. Would you and DOT support a CitiBike rental there? Of course not? So why in our local memorial parks

  6. Sounds a lot like Denmark! the number one biking-country in the world 😀

  7. I don't use bells or horns when I ride, and I find those who use them annoying. But never as annoying as cars honking their horns. You would think these motorists are on a point system that rewards them with each honk.

  8. Denmark is indeed a speed bike riders' country.

  9. Cycling is the answer!

  10. Thanks for article.

  11. Bicycles space, but they have something in itself 🙂

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