Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
Bike Share, Parking Take Center Stage at Council Hearing
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The Upper West Side of Manhattan won’t get bike share until June 2013. That’s according to New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, in testimony before the New York City Council Tuesday.
The date isn’t exactly a surprise — the city acknowledged at the launch of its Citi Bike program that some neighborhoods won’t get bike share until next spring, but the June date puts it at the outer edge of that timeline.
Sadik-Khan also defended the cost of the program, noting that an annual membership in New York gives riders 45 minutes of free riding compared to 30 minutes in London. And she pointed out that New York’s is “a privately operated system” while most other city’s bike shares are not.
Queens council member Leroy Comrie wanted to know what Citibank’s $47.5 million would be used for. Sadik-Khan told him “it’s going to pay for the purchase of the bikes, the stations, the operator that is going to be servicing the bikes 24/7, rebalancing the bikes, moving them around the city — so all of that money is going to pay for the operation of that system.” She added that the program will bring about 200 jobs to Brooklyn. “The initial launch site will be in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and then we will be doing the permanent facility (which) will be located at Sunset Park, 53rd and 3rd.”
During questioning on other topics, Jimmy Vacca, who chairs the transportation committee, asked the commissioner what was happening with plans to privatize parking meters and if people would be laid off? Sadik-Khan said it’s still in very early states and the city has just put out feelers by issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ).
“We’ve agreed to study the possibility of a public/private partnership for our parking program to see if there are opportunities for further improvement,” she said, “but I would say that we run the most efficient and effective system in the country; we have a 99 percent uptake in terms of operability of our Muni Meters, and so we’re thrilled with the performance of our programs to date.”
She added that the feedback from the RFQ will determine whether or not the city moves forward with actual procurement.
Sadik-Khan was also asked about a parking sensor pilot program on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx; she said the city was still in the middle of the pilot and would evaluate it after it was done.
Following the hearing, reporters asked the commissioner about residential parking permits. Residents of the downtown Brooklyn neighborhood where the Barclays Center is opening this September have been pushing for a residential parking permit program. But it would require state legislation to enact, and Sadik-Khan said even after legislation cleared Albany, it would take nine months to get such a program off the ground.
Sadik-Khan also expressed support for legislation that would hold business owners accountable for delivery cyclists who don’t follow traffic laws, and said she’s working with the New York City Council to craft it.