Walter: Feeling steamrollered by Citi Bike roll out
The name-calling continues in the West Village. Bike racks appeared recently for the city's new bicycle sharing program and hundreds showed up for a community board meeting with complaints about safety and sanitation.
Biking advocates labeled my neighbors "rich white people" with NIMBY attitudes (I may be white but I'm certainly not rich), while locals called the activists "plants" and asked where they lived.
In the comments section of our local weekly, The Villager, residents with concerns were labeled members of the tea party. Those in favor were accused of being on Citicorp's payroll. (The company is sponsoring the program.)
The group Transportation Alternatives says that those with issues came out in full force only after the plan was implemented, not before. The city's Department of Transportation claims it held more than 400 meetings with various groups before the rollout.
But I don't know many people who make a point of reading the densely packed two-page agenda the Community Board puts out every month. When a restaurant applies for a liquor license or a sidewalk cafe permit, this is posted on street poles so residents are aware and can attend the meeting.
So why wasn't our neighborhood alerted in a similar manner, with fliers indicating that bike racks would be on the agenda?
I can't help but feel that if the design and location of the racks had been publicized properly, more people would have come out earlier -- and some of the current rancor could have been avoided.
And I still don't understand why the program employs ugly modernist stands in a historic district.
The rollout feels more like a stream roller from the DOT -- which, according to The Villager, did not send a representative to the meeting after the racks were installed and my neighbors went crazy.
The plan is moving forward, but at the very least, complaints about the bike stands blocking entrances for emergency personnel must be addressed. There appears to be no way the fire department or emergency medical responders could get through the racks lined up in front of residential doorways.
The program is scheduled to start on Memorial Day. We need some answers before then.
Kate Walter is a freelance writer living in the far West Village. She walks to work.