First bike stolen as NYC cycle-hire scheme gets off to wobbly start
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Monday 27 May 2013
New York’s answer to London’s “Boris Bikes” programme made its official debut today, as the city launched its Citi Bike cycle-share scheme. But while many, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are celebrating the rollout, others have been complaining about the docking stations that have sprung up around Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Some 6,000 bikes have been docked at more than 300 locations around the city as part of the scheme, which is sponsored by Citibank. More than 9,000 people signed up before the launch to take part in the first phase, which is limited to annual members. Those who wish to purchase day passes will get their chance at the beginning of June.
Along with the thousands who have already paid up, the New Yorker magazine has joined in welcoming the bikes, adorning this week’s cover with an illustration of a cycle rack facing a gym window that shows locals working out on treadmills and exercise bikes.
Many, though, have been irked by the location of the docking stations. In one instance, the size of a bike stand in front of an upmarket building in the West Village was reduced, with four slots reportedly being removed, after residents filed a lawsuit. Last week, the New York Post reported on the case of another docking station in the area which, it claimed, made it difficult for emergency crews to park their ambulance to assist a distressed nonagenarian. The authorities, however, told New York Magazine that the crews had no trouble responding to the call. Part of the docking station was later removed.
Over in Brooklyn, residents of a building in Brooklyn Heights were said to be moaning about a docking station that had been installed by the front entrance of the block. “The whole thing is just ridiculous,” Keith Klein, a resident of 140 Cadman Plaza West, told The Brooklyn Paper. “In this particular part of Brooklyn Heights, there are so many parts that would have made more sense.
“Our argument about the placement of this installation is that it blocks access to the main door of the building, not just from a cab when you have luggage, or your car when you are unloading shopping bags, but it also blocks access for emergency vehicles.”
Meanwhile, even before the first $825 bikes hit the streets, someone was reported to have stolen one of the cycles as it was being delivered to a docking station in Manhattan.
The theft occurred on Sunday evening when a crew was placing bikes in a stand at Second Avenue and 25th Street. They had not even been locked into place when the thief struck, and pedalled away into the night.
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