Can Someone Explain to Me the Bike Share Hatred in New York?

Ever since New York City rolled out it’s bike share service, Citi Bike, there has been a spate of anti-bike share stories (here’s the latest installment). I don’t understand the anger. I’m not being snarky here, but Boston has a similar system, Hubway, and it seems to be popular. There certainly isn’t the groundswell of anti-bike sharing that, at least to an outsider, is occurring in NYC.

The only thing I can think of is that the bike sharing stations, in Boston, aren’t located on residential streets, whereas in NYC, it seems that a fair number of the stations are located in front of residential buildings–and thus taking parking spots that ‘belong’ to residents. Perhaps if Hubway took up a bunch of spots in Southie* (which has a lot of cars and very little parking), there would be more complaints? Maybe? Dunno.


*South Boston has one station, at the west end of the neighborhood.

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5 Responses to Can Someone Explain to Me the Bike Share Hatred in New York?

  1. Min says:

    Short answer:

    The plebes think that they own the streets! Grrrr!

  2. anthrosciguy says:

    I think it’s more like “the plebes think they have a right to be in the streets, and sometimes they might get in my way!” followed by “Do you know who I am?!”

  3. Tiercelet says:

    Well, it’s a combination of a lot of things. A lot of it is probably down to resistance to change. And yes, partially it’s “the plebes think they deserve more than scraps,” but this actually isn’t a program for plebes. Between the prices (going to fill Citi’s coffers; note that some credit unions have a greater yearly-membership discount than Citibank itself offers) and the restrictive rental periods (30 min, 45 with yearly membership), you can’t really use it to commute more than a couple dozen blocks, doubly so when they still don’t have stations outside of Insanely Rich Person Land. So, basically, if you want to use a cycle for the whole trip, you still need to own your own; this reduces the use case to “I want to speed up part of my walk from the subway,” which is a reasonable niche but hard to justify the price tag when you still need to pay $112/mo for a Metrocard.

    I can think of a few (semi-)legit reasons there’s been negative reaction–the racks themselves are generally unsightly, and many of the ones I’ve seen are placed in areas where they promote poor cyclist conduct (salmoning, riding on sidewalks, excessively crossing traffic lanes, pulling into traffic without looking). Many of the people using them are terrible cyclists, riding in slow, congestive clumps and with no awareness of themselves as part of a traffic flow. (though in fairness, the bikes themselves are kind of dodgy; not likely to collapse, but poorly balanced, under-geared, and in the case I tried, with dangerously loose brakes).

    And then it’s also a city that hates cyclists with a passion, since no form of traffic respects any other (nearly every day I bike to work I wind up educating people that “it’s not a sidewalk” and “this is a bike lane, not a ‘pushing my hand truck for six blocks’ lane” and such) and cyclists get caught in the middle between arrogant, careless, scared pedestrians and arrogant, careless, power-mad drivers. (Everyone would be much better off if traffic laws were actually enforced here.)

    But as to why people would want to move them from directly in front of a specific building to one a little ways away… I honestly have no idea. It’s not like there wouldn’t just be cars parked there anyway.

  4. georgewiman says:

    I doubt the people who hate bikes could explain their ire to my satisfaction. Bikes seem like such a good thing to me, and such a bad thing to them, that communication might not be possible.

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