Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

23 June 2013

Citibike: The New NIMBY?

It looks like Citibike is becoming a NIMBY issue.  

To the great surprise of media pundits (who are, or pretend to be, surprised by just about everything), rich people are getting Citibike kiosks moved away from their fancy buildings while the poor and downtrodden artists of SoHo and The Village are stuck with them.

Only a real-estate lawyer could make such an argument. (I don't think even Citibank's lawyers resort to such duplicity.)  The emphasis, of course, would be on the "lawyer" part:  Any real-estate person worthy of the name would realize that poor, starving artists haven't been in The Village since, say, about 1965 or in SoHo about fifteen years after that.  Even the ones who were starving artists when they moved into their tenements and lofts are probably living off their living spaces, which are worth millions of dollars.



One of the greatest ironies of this story is that it comes in the wake of hysteria about what the supposedly all-powerful "bike lobby" is foisting upon honest, hard-working citizens of this city.  If we are such a powerful lobby, why couldn't we stop Barry Diller and other mega-magnates from having bike stations moved away from their buildings?  I mean, if we're so powerful, why couldn't we prevail over Hasidic Jews who prevented the construction of bike lanes in their communities (South Williamsburg and Borough Park) because they claimed to be offended by scantily-clad female cyclists?

Oh--here's another irony:  A group of Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg has started a Facebook page to campaign for Citibike kiosks in their neighborhood.  Apparently, they recognize the benefits of cycling--for men, anyway--and realize that getting more people out of cars will mean more parking spaces for those who still drive.  Also, I suspect that some want to ride to school, work or whereever, but don't or can't own bicycles because they have large families and live in small houses or apartments.

Having spent a fair amount of time in Hasidic (and even Orthodox) neighborhoods, I can tell you that most are far from being wealthy, even if they own successful businesses or have well-paying positions.  If Steven Sladkus wants to stand up for the "little guy", he might start there.  Oh, and while he's at it, perhaps he can campaign to get Hasidic women on bikes.  After all, you don't have to wear lycra kit to ride a Citibike!



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