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Better backpedal! Coney community board blasts city’s dockless bike-rental program

Not here: Brighton Beach resident Arlene Brenner said the dockless bike share pilot program will bring chaos to the Boardwalk, where reckless youngsters have already tried to mow her down on the bikes they’re not even allowed to ride on the wooden walkway.
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They spoke too soon.

The city must put the brakes on its recently announced pilot program to bring 200 dockless bikes to Coney Island this summer, locals and board members told officials at a Community Board 13 general meeting on Wednesday. The neighborhood is already flooded with bikes during the summer, when tourists arrive in droves and careen down the Boardwalk, and adding more two-wheelers will only make things worse, according to the board chairwoman.

“Adding more bikes is a terrible situation, it is not good,” said Joann Weiss. “I cannot have 200 more bikes on that Boardwalk or in the community at this time of year — it’s insane.”

Reps from the Department of Transportation made their first visit to the board to discuss the bike-share pilot program at the June meeting — more than a month after the mayor’s office first announced it on May 24 — saying that it would be a trial so the agency could evaluate the success and safety of the program before determining whether to continue it in the fall. The city will also put bikes in neighborhoods in the distant boroughs of Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx.

People would be able to find and unlock the 200 dockless bikes via smartphone apps, and rent them for $1 or $2 per 30-minute ride using their cellphones, according to the mayor’s office.

Unlike Citi Bikes, which must be returned to docking stations, the dockless bikes can be ditched anywhere riders please, but the transportation reps said that they expected riders to leave the bicycles parked on sidewalks and out of pedestrians’ way within the neighborhood bike zone, bounded by W. 31st Street, Neptune Avenue, and West End Avenue.

When asked how the city would prevent riders from taking the bikes out of the zone, or abandoning them in the middle of the street, the reps did not have an answer.

Statistics show that having more bikes in an area led to safer overall conditions for cyclists, according to the reps, who cited a 17-percent decrease in cyclists killed or severely injured in bike-rental zones citywide after CitiBike launched in 2013. But board members responded by unanimously passing a motion to send a letter to the Transportation Department’s commissioner and the mayor outlining their strong opposition to the dockless-bike pilot program.

Weiss and District Manager Eddie Mark sent the letter the to transit chief Polly Trottenberg, the agency’s borough commissioner Keith Bray, Mayor DeBlasio, Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island), and Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay). Mark and Weiss wrote that they were particularly concerned about the impact the influx of two-wheelers would have on the recently landmarked Riegelmann Boardwalk, where many cyclists are unaware of — or just ignore — the rule forbidding biking in the daytime from Memorial Day Weekend until October 1, since the city doesn’t enforce it.

A rep for the transit agency said officials look forward to reviewing the letter but did not respond to inquiries about the impact the board’s opposition might have on the plan.

The Transportation Department was also mum on where the bikes would be placed, what kind of locking systems the bikes would have, how it would limit riding on the Boardwalk, and who would be liable for injuries to riders and others.

One Brighton Beach resident agreed that the inevitable uptick in Boardwalk bikers would exacerbate enforcement issues, since the police shifted the responsibility for banning daytime cyclists to the Parks Department, which has jurisdiction over the Boardwalk but doesn’t adequately enforce the rule.

“The cops don’t enforce it — the police want to go after people with knives and guns, then it falls to Parks Enforcement Police, and they have their own issues,” said Ida Sanoff.

Another Brighton Beacher said she hoped the board’s opposition would force the city to change its mind, and blasted Transportation Department officials for not getting locals’ feedback before rolling out the program.

“We all are against it, so that might deter them,” said Arlene Brenner. “The whole thing was stupid. They did it without advising from the community.”

Treyger said he shared the board’s concerns, since the neighborhood is already so traffic-heavy — adding that summer road closures for construction would make getting around even more difficult, another challenge the city must take into account.

“While I am strongly supportive of additional multi-modal transit alternatives, given Coney Island’s limited public transportation access, the high level of congestion that we face every summer is exacerbated this summer by massive infrastructure work, road and lane closures, and sidewalks that are being used as construction staging areas,” Treyger told this newspaper.

He also agreed with the board that, whatever benefits the new bike rentals would bring the neighborhood, the program shouldn’t be rolled out without better enforcement on the Boardwalk and closer consideration of conditions on the ground.

“Dockless bike sharing could benefit Coney Island residents, but a pilot program this summer will likely face significant challenges due to the ongoing construction. In addition, I share Community Board 13’s concerns about lax enforcement of the prohibition on bike riding on the Boardwalk. Dockless bike sharing has promise, but it should be rolled out thoughtful­ly.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 5:41 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Resident from Brooklyn says:
Coney Island has limited public transportation options? Except for the D, N, F, and Q trains (not to mention the B in Brighton Beach) and all the bus lines, that's totally correct.
July 2, 9:15 am
out of control from Brooklyn says:
These menaces are everywhere, in the middle of the streets, going through lights and stop signs, going wrong way on both street lanes and bike paths.

And to add insult to injury, our sidewalks, other public spaces and private properties are being littered with them. The best are the ones with flat or missing tires just rotting away. Yuck!

Their gross though easier to remove than you think. Forget the "kriptonite locks" and just hack-saw the bike frame, they are like butter to cut. Then with only one cut, push/pull the frame and away they go.

Afterwards, it's all recyclable!

Let's teach those menaces; what goes around, comes around ; )
July 2, 9:15 am
boof from brooklyn says:
Whenever I read an article like this, I close my eyes and imagine the person is complaining about how this city is overrun by cars.
July 2, 12:51 pm
BrooklynGersh from The WT says:
More mindless BS from the old biddies who want Coney the way it was in some quiet halcyon time — which was never. We need more bikes and fewer cars. Heaven forbid that Ida or Arlene would EVER see the real problems in their community: cars!
July 2, 3:24 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Perhaps some of you bike zealots need to look at the causes of the opposition for once rather than the effects. Maybe then you will understand why those such as Arlene are against the idea of having dockless bicycles on the boardwalk. Two of the main reasons include cyclists hardly ever following the rules while the other is that it will most likely go unused making them feel like a waste of space and money. Just face the fact that not every place should have bicycle sharing stations, and an advocacy group that demands for it isn't a reason for them either.
July 2, 5:31 pm
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
Bicycles forever! So long old-school Brooklyn!
July 2, 8:38 pm
Gargoyle from Newkirk Plaza says:
Speaking of the boardwalk (okay, I'm stretching), how is it that the exterior of the new $146 mil Shark House at the Aquarium looks so flimsy and cheap? Oh. It's trying to compete with the tinny stairs plopped on to the front of the Brooklyn Museum.
July 2, 11:30 pm
Alex from Brighton says:
Why all the car hate in the comments? Not many ppl are dumb enough to drive here. All the down for day types come on the subway. The few that do drive make parking bad for us who live here. Make them go away and leave us alone rest of year
July 3, 12:54 am
Sharon from Park Slope says:
What they want are more docks! Please remove parking on the left side of most steeets and install stationary docks! They demand it!
July 3, 4:55 am
Tyson White says:
200 bikes will hardly be noticable. Hardly takes up any space.
July 3, 6:29 pm
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
Bwahahahhahahahaha!
Look at that wrinkly & old battleaxe! Her walker takes up more space than any bike. She should be banned from the boardwalk.
July 3, 6:59 pm

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