"It's definitely a not-in-my-backyard thing," Caroline Samponaro, senior director of campaigns and organizing at the New York City-based advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, says about the complaints. "There is this idea that individuals have the right to determine what will and won't happen on public space in the city." Her organization is not a party to the lawsuits. The bike racks are on city property, she notes, adding that although there were years of community input, city residents don't have the final say in decisions over location.
Part of Public Transit
"The bike share is designed to be part of the public-transportation network," she says. "It's supposed to supplement the bus and train system."
So just what are the complaints? At The Cambridge, a roughly 135-unit co-op at 175 West 13th Street in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, a 39-rack station was partially blocking the building's entrance. Just days after the board filed a legal challenge last year, an elderly resident had a medical emergency, reports David R. Marcus, the board vice president.
"The ambulance had to park down the block because they could not get to the curb," Marcus says of the incident. "He was OK, thankfully, but they had to wheel the gurney down the block to get him into the ambulance."
True or False?
A Fire Department official, however, cast doubt on that story. FDNY spokesperson Frank Gribbon told Gothamist.com that, "The fire units on scene had absolutely no problem accessing this building," and added that in terms of Cite Bike stations elsewhere, "There have been no problems. None." The website also noted, with a photo, that prior to the Citi Bike station, parked cars used that space without engendering complaints. Regardless, workers days later removed several bike racks that were directly in front of the entrance.
Despite the removals, the co-op is still pursuing its legal claim.It lost when New York State Supreme Court Judge Cynthia S. Kern threw out the complaint in October 2013, but the case saw oral arguments at the appellate division in early May. A ruling is expected soon.
Adapted from "Not in Front of My Building" by Jennifer V. Hughes (Habitat, June 2014)
Photo by Jennifer Wu. Click to enlarge.
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