Soon after the New York Post ran its story on the danger Citi Banks poses to small business owner Frank Arroyo and his bike shop, the bike station was removed.
Arroyo has owned and operated Frank’s Bike Shop for over 37 years, on third of his income coming from bike rentals. The shop, located at 533 Grand Street on the Lower East Side, Citi Bikes suddenly installed a bike rental station a mere 150 feet from his store’s location. At $10 for a 24-hour pass with Citi Bikes, Arroyo believes he cannot compete successfully, charging $30 day for the rental of his bikes.
“My biggest question is how did they come about to choose the areas where they put these bikes. Did they study the areas? Did they look at the businesses around them?” asked a shocked Frank Arroyo.
Arroyo also fixes bikes and sells Schwinn-brand bikes, but he says one-third of his income comes from rental fees. He says that the city never asked him what he would think of having the Citi Bike station so close to his shop. Right before the bike kiosk was installed Arroyo was considering expanding his rental business.
“It has become more and more of a year-round business,” Arroyo said. “You got tourists that come, and Europeans especially are used to using bikes year-round. It’s a growing business.”
But now it is time to change gears.
“I’m going to have to concentrate on where I can make more income to make up for the potential loss,” he said.
One solution Arroyo sees is to join forces with Citi Bike rather than being in opposition.
“It would’ve been nice if [Citi Bike] would’ve had a program teaching young people how to fix bikes,” he added.
After the article in the Post was published on May 27 a petition drive was begun. Over 1,000 signatures were collected, all agreeing that the city should relocate the Citi Bike station. On the other hand, the were others who said that the location for the Citi Bike station was a good one, since there are no easily accessible bus or subway lines. Frank Arroyo himself said he is not so sure the bulk of his problem comes from the station at the intersection of Grand and Henry streets. He fears more the Citi Bike stations close to hotels, the source of most of his bike rental customers.
The Department of Transportation says that the Citi Bike station was removed to make way for some utility construction work, and not as a response to the petition. Eventually the station will be re-installed in the same location.