Brian Van Nieuwenhoven: Much griping, little listening
Much griping, little listening
To The Editor:
There will almost certainly be valid concerns that are raised by any new program of large size introduced in New York City.
That said, most of the concerns I’m hearing voiced about this program [Citi Bike] involve airing out petty gripes and engaging in wild speculation, and a critical component of this exchange is missing: listening.
The Department of Transportation’s efforts at PR, across the board, are as puzzling as they are incompetent and incomplete. But that is a problem that does not extend to the staff of the NYC Bike Share corporation — the entity running the program, separate from DOT and Alta Bicycle, and not a ward of Citi, the banking corporation — and does not apply to their deployment of the program. They’ve gotten a lot of work done on 300-plus sites in less than two months, and no essential city service or significant activity has been disrupted in the process.
DOT has been — slowly — receptive to concerns where people have been inconvenienced, and made adjustments when the concerns were reasonable. DOT has done appropriate community outreach, and can’t be expected to pursue the direct permission of every person who lives or works in New York City for every change it plans to make. The worst of the changes from this program have extremely mild effects on the neighborhoods in which they were placed, and it’s worth adjusting to those changes in order to gain the benefits of the program.
This is the story that has been repeated constantly, but the opponents are not interested in listening. They just want their personal demands met in full, after they’ve had a turn at airing their grievances at whatever length suits them. We have yet to hear the reasonable concerns about bike-share. This makes sense, because so far the racks have been deployed, innocuously, in public space that belongs to the city. NYC Bike Share has not overstepped its bounds at all.
Anything it does to modify rack placement in the upcoming weeks to sort out territorial disputes (which are mostly misguided and sometimes dishonest) will be for the sake of addressing politics. Which is good. It means DOT and NYC Bike Share are listening. But are the people listening back? Or are they just thinking about more ways to argue for their anti-bike-share worldview to receptive ears in the media?
Brian Van Nieuwenhoven