Good stewardship of our historic districts in Tribeca should oblige DOT and Citibank to re-think both the design and the placement of the huge bike racks in this otherwise fine program. This is not too much to ask and there is no reason for the CB board to compromise. Compare the photos below of the low-key bike-share program in Paris with the Citibank one here in NY. The worst of the proposed locations is mid-block on Duane Street between Hudson and Greenwich. There, a particularly large rack of about 20 bikes is proposed (see the Melbourne photo below for what a large rack looks like). This is one of the most beautiful blocks within an historic district in New York City (see Paul Goldberger, “The City Observed” page 39-40, or Francis Morrone’s “The Architect’s Guidebook to New York City”, page 63 ). It should not be thus treated.
Some points merit restating:
- Few people are against bike sharing per se: the issue is placement of the racks, their size, and the overbright logos and solar-lit 24/7 Citibank kiosks within the historic districts, all happening with a planning process that has featured little to no targeted consultation with residents of Tribeca’s historic districts. Last fall, thanks to one of our neighbors, 69 residents of Duane Street signed a petition calling for some rethink on this program on the Duane block (http://www.change.org/petitions/residents-of-duane-park-oppose-installation-of-bike-share-rental-operations-on-duane-park-block)
- A more utiliatrian spot for a rack is close to the subway by Chambers Street by the Bogardus Triangle. Another possibility is alongside the north plaza of the Citibank building itself at North Moore. The latter is a public-private plaza managed by Citibank itself. Even the plaza by 60 Hudson is better.
- The most ridiculous location is mid-block on Duane Street in Tribeca West Historic District. Most people (of course, not everyone, but I am quite confident that it is true for the majority) on that block want the cobblestones restored and the park expanded westward to its original, historical boundaries. Such a wish is consistent with the Community Board’s unanimous resolution of Jan 14, 1992 about cobblestones. THAT is the long term, realistic vision for that historic district block, not a giant Citibank bike rack.
- Bike racks in historic districts should not be advertising vehicles for the sponsor. Just drop the logo and garish paint. I’ve attached photos of what the bike racks look like in a beautiful city like Paris. Note that there are no logos and the paint is discrete.
- The underlying problem is an unnecessary concern for “public private” funding partnerships. Such thinking forces us to be eyeballs for Citibank’s marketers and undermines the historic district concept. Moreover, why do we owe Citibank the favor of putting their logo on everything? Don’t forget that Citibank was massively bailed out by the public during the most recent debacle and faces civil lawsuits for mortgage wrongdoing. Citibank owes the public, not the other way around. If Citibank wants to do a public service, they should do it without the quid pro quo of garish logos.
- Signage for businesses within historic districts is normally tightly regulated. Signage on these bike racks ought to be equally regulated by our various landmarks committees as well. Instead, the absence of regulation has allowed Citibank to dodge common-sense rules and wreck havoc on our historic districts. To add insult to injury here in Tribeca, Citibank, as of yesterday, put large and overlit signage on their new bank offices at West Broadway and Duane – a building that is conveniently gerrymandered out of the historic district. Enough with the logos!
- Citibank and DOT must show more respect for Tribeca’s historic districts. Paint the bikes a neutral color. Leave out the logos. Place the racks in a way that respects our historic districts. It is up to us to make that known.