New York City’s bike share program has come out victorious in its first legal challenge.
A State Supreme Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by group against the NYC Department of Transportation, demanding the removal of a Citi Bike station from Petrosino Square in lower Manhattan.
The group, Friends of Petrosino Square, said the station took away space dedicated to public art installations.
The lawsuit alleged that the bike station was an improper use of park space, especially since the program is mostly for commuters and charges a fee, and Petrosino Square itself is too small for cycling.
Judge Cynthia Kern was not convinced. In her ruling, she wrote:
The bike share station is a proper park purpose for purposes of the public trust doctrine…
The fact that many commuters use the Program is irrelevant to a determination that it serves a proper park purpose as the Program may serve dual purposes…
Concessions with fees such as bike rentals, boat rentals, cafes and ice skating rinks are common in parks and have consistently been upheld as proper by the courts…
Additionally, petitioners’ assertion that the bike share station is an improper park use because one cannot bicycle within the Park due to its small size is without merit. The bike share station has a proper park purpose as it allows members of the public to enjoy bicycling from park to park or from park to roadway.
Most damning was Kerr’s dismissal of the argument that the station took away space dedicated to public art:
As an initial matter, petitioners have not demonstrated that the placement of the bike share station in the northern part of the Park completely forecloses the display of art in that area.
Additionally, that the bike share station is located in an area where there have been public art installations displayed is not relevant to the question of whether it is a proper park use.
Friends of Petrosino Square President Georgette Fleischer said the decision was incorrect and that her attorneys planned to appeal, according to the AP.
In a statement, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said “the objections to the siting of this bike share station were soundly rejected. The court’s decision is a victory for the hundreds of riders who use this station every day.”
Since its launch at the end of May, Citi Bike has been extremely popular. More than 80,000 people have purchased annual memberships.
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