Judge says Citi Bike rival can continue operating for now despite DOT lawsuit
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A privately-run new bike share service can continue to operate its e-bikes in Manhattan for now despite city litigation to bring the company’s operations to a halt, a judge ruled Thursday.
The city Department of Transportation had sued Wednesday to stop upstart Citi Bike rival JOCO — asking the court for a temporary halt to its operations while accusing the company of operating in defiance of city and state law.
But Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank denied the city’s request for an immediate stop to JOCO’s operations, calling city attorneys back to make their case against the company on June 16.
JOCO’s founders — who are both named Jonny Cohen — last week rolled out the first of what they promise will be “hundreds” of electric bicycles at 30 docking stations on private properties in Manhattan.
The Cohens insist that keeping the bikes stored on private property keeps them within the bounds of the law.
“Our clients, JOCO, are pleased that the Court denied the City’s request for a temporary restraining order, clearing the legal bike path today for their [electric vehicle] rental company to continue serving the public,” JOCO’s attorney, former Taxi and Limousine Chairman Matthew Daus, said in a statement.
JOCO’s e-bikes are available to rent for $1 plus $.25-cents per minute. For $49 a month, riders can also unlock unlimited 45-minute trips.
The company is the latest “micro-mobility” firm to attempt a Big Apple launch in the face of the city DOT’s contract with Citi Bike, which gives the Lyft-owned company exclusive rights to operate within its far-reaching service area.
DOT initially handed JOCO a cease and desist order last week, which the company summarily ignored.
City Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci said the city remained sure of its case against the company.
“You can’t just install a pop-up bike-share operation without City authorization. It’s illegal,” Paolucci said in a statement.
“These operations are regulated by law in the interest of the public. The case is not over. When all the merits are reviewed, we remain confident that JOCO will be found to be violating the law.”
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