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Bike Share Takes Another Beating From Soho, Village Residents

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There was only one thing that people at Community Board 2's heated meeting on the city's nascent bike share program were not angry about last night: the ban on riders weighing more than 260 pounds. The assorted residents of SoHo, NoHo and the West and Greenwich villages?a svelte lot, if ever there was?did not say peep about the large person restriction, but were up in arms at the crowded town hall about nearly every other issue imaginable. There was the pressing issue of safety, many claimed to the packed house at P.S. 41 in the Village. How would a bunch of people, many of whom might be taking some of their first steps in New York City, survive on a bicycle in the city's mean streets? Why wouldn't there be a helmet station?

There were serious red flags about the plan's implementation, opponents argued, claiming that it was a yet another Bloomberg-Janette Sadik-Khan power move rammed down their throats and lacking in community input. There were horror stories of building entries blocked, delivery areas thwarted, small streets congested, garbage pick-up routes destroyed, and loading zones annihilated by new bike docks that appeared mysteriously?"plopped," many said?overnight. There was the issue of branded gear blighting historic neighborhoods?and public spaces meant to be set aside for the arts, like the beloved Petrosino Square?and questions about why Citibank locations did not have to share space with the docking stations.

"I suggest a solution, take all the bloody stands and put them in front of Citibank!" said Sonia Stock, a resident of Hudson Street in Tribeca, who groused that the bike share station went in front of her building?and not in front of the nearby Citibank. There were claims that the docks made an attractive urinal for dogs, who were turning the streets into a putrid mess. And then, of course, there's the plight of the doormen: "You're putting unnecessary responsibility on them to watch and clean these bike racks," argued one speaker, rallying towards the end of the hours-long meeting. There was even the comparison of the DOT to the Taliban, at the end of a passionate rant by Sean Sweeney, a board member and director of the SoHo Alliance. "What kind of philistine..would destroy public art space to put advertising for Citibank?" he said. The DOT "should be the Department of Taliban."

Bike share supporters made their case outside of the meeting, toting signs with "YIMBY" and "Public bikes belong in public space" slogans, and in the meeting, arguing that the bikes are no worse than SUVs when it comes to blighting historic neighborhoods. But they were dwarfed by the anti-bike contingent in comments and applause. And in props: Citi bike opponents passed out condoms with a note that said "We've been screwed by Citibank, DOT and Christine Quinn. Don't let this happen to you. Be prepared!"
?Eli Rosenberg
· Bike share coverage [Curbed]