Lincoln Park CaBi station decision imminent
DDOT will make a final decision about the placement of a Lincoln Park area CaBi station within days, Chris Holben told an occasionally animated but civil ANC meeting last night.
According to Holben, the island on the northeast corner has some advantages over the previously-suggested southeast corner. The northeast island is larger, enabling the bike rack to be placed parallel to 13th Street.
This placement would also deter some crossing between intersections that is currently possible from the island across 13th Street.
Holben also confirmed that National Park Service concession contracts interfere with putting a station inside the park itself. DDOT intends to continue to pursue placement of bikes on NPS land, but to do so, they must convince the Department of Interior attorneys that CaBi is a transit system, placing it outside of the scope of NPS's existing contracts.
After initially ruling out an initial proposal on the west side of the park as too small, DDOT proposed the pedestrian island on the SE corner of Lincoln Park. For reasons that were not made clear at the time, the SE corner proposal was canceled. At last night's ANC meeting, residents wanted an explanation.
According to Holben, DDOT heard a number of concerns including possible vandalism, noise, safety (both pedestrian and bicyclist), potentially obstructed sight lines on Mass Ave. and 13th Street, and the potential for the bikes to be an attractive nuisance to children. An ANC commissioner from 6A pointed out that if those were issues on the southeast triangle, surely they also would be issues on the northeast island as well. Thus, what was the rationale for the change?
Within the context of the community meeting, it was difficult to pursue a sustained line of questioning, but as best I could decipher, the initial opposition to the SE triangle proposal was enough of an impetus to cause DDOT to revisit the site.
Reading the tea leaves, the question seems not to be if a CaBi station will be placed near Lincoln Park, but where, and the northeast pedestrian triangle seems to be the presumptive favorite at this point. Of course, moving the bike rack from the SE corner to the NE corner mitigates few, if any, of the litany of concerns DDOT heard about the SE triangle.
To the extent the risks are real, the proposal would simply relocate them a block away. Perhaps DDOT simply became convinced the NE triangle was better, since the original sites were only tentative. Or, perhaps the simply looked for a site where people would object less loudly.
Most encouraging to me about the meeting was the absence of outright opposition to a CaBi station in the Lincoln Park area. To be sure, some neighborhood residents voiced strong opposition to specific site proposals, citing a litany of concerns, primarily related to biker and pedestrian safety, but no one suggested that a CaBi station in the neighborhood was an unworthy goal.
There were clearly a respectable number of supporters present in the audience, ranging from a group of young men wearing the official-issue, black CaBi t-shirt, to the originator of the online petition supporting the Lincoln Park CaBi station, representing a group of 18 supportive community members.
ANC6B candidate Brian Pate came prepared with a proposal that would place the CaBi Station on 13th Street along the park, removing one lane of traffic and creating additional parking. A number of individuals who live across from one of the pedestrian triangles under consideration showed up to support the placement of the CaBi station on the site.
DDOT views CaBi as a transit system, most of which lose money; however, compared with other transit systems in the city, such as the Circulator, which recovers 20 to 30 percent of its operating costs, DDOT believes CaBi may recover as much as 75% of operating costs in subscription and usage fees.
CaBi cost $6.4 million in capital and operational costs in year one and will cost $1.4 million in operating costs in subsequent years. According to a recent government study, London, which recently implemented the same bike share system, albeit on a much larger scale, is on pace to recover the total cost of its system in 2-3 years.
DDOT will also learn today whether they won a federal TIGER II grant award for an additional 1000 CaBi bikes in the region.
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