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A Brooklyn Co-op Fights Citi Bike. Can It? Should It?

150 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn

Photo by Jennifer Wu for Habitat
Citi Bikes at a Manhattan location
June 9, 2014

150 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn is yet another co-op to attempt to fight Citi Bike and lose. The co-op pursued and lost an Article 78 challenge earlier this year, citing safety as the main complaint, says Ken Wasserman, a board member. The bike racks in front of his home are situated such that to use the bikes, riders must pull them out onto the sidewalk. Instead of walking the bikes to the corner, which is the legal way, Wasserman says most riders pedal on the sidewalk.

“We have several schools nearby, and there are lots and lots of kids,” he says. “It’s the law to ride on the street, but no one enforces it. You shouldn’t have to look over your shoulder if you are walking on the sidewalk.”

Keep on Bikin'?

The brouhaha over the bikes could soon be moot, though. In late March, news reports surfaced that New York City Bike Share was seeking millions in investment to keep the Citi Bike program going. Annual memberships are strong, with about 100,000 people paying $95 to use the bikes for 45 minutes at a time, but single-use ridership is stagnating. The company that makes the equipment went bankrupt at the beginning of the year, and the executive who launched the program left in March.

Nonetheless, NYC Bike Share officials remain optimistic. Its parent company, Alta Bicycle Share, is seeking investors to expand Citi Bike to 600 stations and 10,000 bikes. They anticipate raising up to $20 million to try and make that happen.

When asked if it will be difficult to lure investors when the bikes are already branded for Citibank — spelling out Citi Bike in Citibank’s distinctive font and style — Dani Simons, spokeswoman for NYC Bike Share, says private investors are not the same as sponsors. “We do, however, feel that there are aspects of this program, beyond the bikes themselves, that have sponsorship potential,” she adds, declining to elaborate.

Meanwhile, in early spring, the Citi Bike program logged its eight millionth ride.

 

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Photo by Jennifer Wu

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