Citibike already has its share of detractors, and it hasn't even started yet. (Though we've been assured that it will be ready for public consumption in May, for real this time.) The latest griping has nothing to do with trash-covered racks or the debate over helmets: It has to do with the program's corporate backer, Citibank, and the fact that residents of brownstone Brooklyn don't want their ritzy, tree-lined streets blemished with unsightly blue advertisements-on-wheels.
What better way to combat ugly advertisements than by covering them up with still-ugly signs? Flyers have been plastered around several racks in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, announcing that "Residential landmark blocks are not for advertising or commercial activity!" Councilwoman Tish James will host a town hall meeting for residents to air their Citibike grievances on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Benjamin Banneker Academy, located at 71-77 Clinton Avenue.
A spokesperson for the councilwoman said that the meeting will give angry residents a chance to balk at the program, though she added that James herself has long been a supporter. "At this point we're just trying to get an understanding of what the opposition is, and what can be done to mitigate anyone's concerns," the spokesperson said. It's tough to know how anyone can say they didn't see this coming: The DOT reports that it held nearly 400 meetings with community boards and civic associations during the multi-year planning process, including with Community Board 2, which covers Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.
Furthermore, the Landmarks Preservation Commission says that the stations are just fine, since the landmarks law generally allows advertising in historic districts—including on street fixtures like bus shelters, pay toilets and newsstands. "We approved the plan for the installation of bike share stations in historic districts throughout the city because they have no effect on the historic fabric of those neighborhoods," said Elisabeth de Bourbon, the commission's communications director.