Kiosks for New York City’s bicycle sharing program CitiBike have been installed and will shortly be filled with ten thousand bikes around the city. The program is supported by local city officials and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which is offering a discount to the program for all of its residents, an affordable 60 dollars a year for bike usage.
In classic New York fashion, residents have taken to having strong opinions about the new bike share, and many are complaining. Bike racks are in sets of 20 up to 50 on sidewalks and courtyards, and businesses and apartment dwellers have concerns about the bikes interfering with their daily life. Businesses are concerned that the bike racks would interfere with deliveries by obstructing the road and creating a barrier to moving goods indoors. One resident worried the racks could prevent emergency vehicles from getting to her building efficiently.
Supporters of CitiBike, sponsored by Citi Group, were taken aback by the negative reactions from New Yorkers, as the program has already launched successfully in major cities like London, Paris, Melbourne and Montreal, with plans to launch soon in San Francisco and Chicago—and especially since two thirds of New Yorkers reported supported such a program in a poll last year. The problems lie in the “NIMBY” mentality, according to CitiBike enthusiasts. Since the installations are causing some community fixtures to be removed, people are also upset at the changes in their neighborhood. The bad attitude is summed up by one resident who spoke to the press, saying “Why do we have to lose [our own bike racks], and give it up for the bigger picture?”
The resentment is common for changing communities, and the quote represents a serious challenge by environmentalists not only trying to improve public transportation, but for all aspects of going green. Making people care about “the bigger picture” more than themselves and their immediate surroundings remains the most difficult aspect of rallying support for sustainability. No one wants to hurt the environment, but few people are willing to make sacrifices to preserve it.