City Cancels Bike Rentals From Kelly Drive

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 22 | Posted Jul. 6, 2011

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Bike lock: The Lloyd Hall Bike Rental shack on Kelly Drive is closed.

Photo by ryan strand

The city likes to say it’s all about going green these days. And in some cases—the Greenworks initiative, recycling rewards, the strange idea to have water taxis on the Delaware by next year—they probably are. So what’s the city’s explanation for canceling bike-rental services along Kelly Drive?

Last week, the Lloyd Hall Bike Rental Shack, at 1 Kelly Drive, was supposed to be removed by Glenn Krotick and his business partner, Joseph Wentzell. But they’re keeping it there out of protest.

Krotick and Wentzell, owners of Breakaway Bikes at 1923 Chestnut St., have been spending weekends renting bikes from the shack they own since winning a bid from the city in 2006. Each year, the shack was open from April through October, giving the city 30 percent of the $10/hour, $50/day rate they charged for their Fuji Absolute hybrid rental bikes. And most winters since the opening, before rental season, the city would automatically extend Breakaway’s contract for another year. “We really thought it would be a good way of marketing us,” says Krotick, a former general-practice lawyer who claims Breakaway did not financially profit directly from the rental venture. “We want to promote cycling, we want to promote a nice healthy environment for the city. Plus, every big city has some kind of rental system.”

But earlier this year, that all changed. The city ended the contract with Breakaway, and by extension, bike rentals at that Kelly Drive spot for the rest of the 2011 summer.

So much for being green.

In 2010, Breakaway decided to propose an expansion of their rentals. Instead of just the one location, they’d have four: One along Schuylkill Banks, one along the Wissahickon, one near Valley Green, and the original Lloyd Hall Shack. In addition to upping the rentals, Breakaway approached the city about starting a bike-share program, similar to Philadelphia Car Share, with eventual locations all over the city. And the city, especially the Department of Parks and Recreation, ate it up.

But all of a sudden, a new bidding process was required for the entire deal. And according to the terms and conditions of the original contract with Breakaway, this was totally allowed. The city was also allowed to terminate the contract any time it felt like it. Krotick says he felt played by the sudden change of heart, since the city was bidding out on the idea he came up with and would later say so in a letter to Deputy Commissioner Mary E. Stitt, with copies sent to Alex Dotty of the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition, Patrick Cunnane of Fuji Bikes and Mayor Nutter. “At the time, Breakaway did not see this as fair because they proposed it,” Krotick says. “If not for Breakaway’s proposal, this idea would not have existed.”

But they went along with it. Strangely, the bidding process was not to take place until May 2011, after the season had already started. There was one other bidder on the contract, which the city later deemed unacceptable for undisclosed reasons.

So Breakaway assumed they’d get the bid again. Krotick submitted the application on time, dated April 26, of which an original and required eight copies were provided. But because Krotick signed the original in black pen—the same color as the copies—the city claimed they didn’t know which, if any, was the original. They requested he come into the Municipal Services Building May 10, a day after the submission deadline, and sign a new “original proposal.” He insisted an original was in the stack he’d handed them, but said “fuck it” and went in anyway. Rental season had already been stalled enough. “I said, ‘If you don’t think it’s real, I’ll sign a new one,’” says Krotick, “right now.” He did, dated it and left.

A week later, he got a letter saying the proposal had been rejected. The May 10 dated cover letter he signed in person did not match the April 26 copies the city already had. Leaving his bid DOA.

Krotick says he felt screwed over, and let the city know as much. After weeks of being ignored, he got an email back from the city saying Breakaway’s contract for the Lloyd Hall Shack had been terminated, because the city was allowed to do so for no reason at all: “This [request for proposal] does not commit the City to award a concession agreement’… Thank you for your interest in doing business with the city.”

Krotick now refers to this as the “fuck you, we can do whatever we want email.” It made him wonder if the city was really interested in going green, or just making it look like it was.

Krotick accepted his defeat and asked the city for his $5,000 city performance bond back. (When they first won the bid in 2006, Krotick and Wentzell were asked to put down a $5,000 “bond”). But Public Works Supervisor Julio Vallejo denied the existence of the bond altogether: “[T]here was no requirement for a bond of any sort to accompany the proposal submission, and hence none was submitted by your company.” Krotick gave Vallejo the date of the 2006 check, memo and check number. At this point, the city acknowledged the check’s existence, but claimed the bond was actually a “security deposit,” which Breakaway would get back as soon as they removed the shack the city had them buy.

Property and Concessions Director of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Robert Allen then told Breakaway they were required to remove the Lloyd Hall Bike Shack from its location within 30 days of May 31, since they owned it, and were no longer working with the city. Failure to do so would allow the city to “treat the Storage Facility as abandoned and sell it and retain all proceeds from the sale,” he wrote in a letter to Krotick.

“We’re simply asking them to do what’s in their contract that they signed,” Robert Allen tells PW. “It was brought here on a flat bed truck and it can be removed on a flat bed truck.” The city has declined to comment further on why it will not renew Breakaway’s contract.

“They have their mind made up that this is the greatest thing in the world,” says Krotick, who still gets calls asking where all the Kelly Drive rentals are and whose rental business still appears on visitphilly.com. “That everyone’s going to bid on it. But no one’s going to bid on it.” Indeed, Allen says the city was “disappointed by the fact that … we only received two proposals” after “several organizations attended the pre-proposal meeting.”

In response to the city’s request for removal, Breakaway has started a Facebook group called “Save Our Shack,” trying to garner local support to keep the rental shack in place. “If the citizens of Philadelphia speak up and say, ‘We want rentals in the park, we love our park system, this is a service that is not costing the city a dime, why are you taking this away from us,’” he says, “then maybe something can happen. They just took it away and no one knows about it.”

At the very least, he’d like some time to attempt a sale of the shack to the next bike-rental business, which will be there in 2012. Maybe.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 22 of 22
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1. ZooKeeper said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 07:58AM

“Monkeys running the system.”

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2. JHMarlton said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 08:50AM

“I LOVE Philly... but this is the worst run city next to Detroit or DC.”

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3. Joseph said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 11:38AM

“Agreed.”

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4. John Gurcsik said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 12:13PM

“It is obvious that certain people from Public Works have a beef with Breakaway. They are also surprised and upset that other potential bidders are not willing to deal with the same bullshit that the city dishes out "just because we they can".”

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5. Karen said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 12:50PM

“Karma. Your shop, entire business , and especially cycling team (QCW) are a bunch of pricks. Glad to see you get burned, even if its by the city.”

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6. Darco said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 01:02PM

“Ouch Karen. You don't even know me and you're calling me names?”

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7. Matthew Furlow said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 01:12PM

“Karen, if you don't have the courage of your convictions to post with your full name, you probably shouldn't post at all, especially when your content isn't constructive. Good day to you miss.”

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8. Shell said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 01:34PM

“Whew rough crowd here in Philly. It is obvious these politicians are holding some sort of personal grudge.”

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9. Jed said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 01:38PM

“What a mess. Philly is a train wreck. Sorry for Joe and Glenn - two nice guys who deserve better.”

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10. Beth Crane said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 01:57PM

“Someone has cast a covetous eye on the Shack. As long as they were 'playing' at renting bikes, they were safe. But now that they want to expand to four locations and start a citywide bikeshare program with the potential to earn big $$$$$$$ .... someone with policital clout has set the force in motion to kick them out and grab it for themselves. Let's see who is renting bikes in 2012. Betcha it's a friend and/or relative of one of Philly's political sharks.”

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11. Ross Marklein said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 03:29PM

“Karen, on behalf of QCW, I would like to extend my hand to you to join our team. Being the pricks we are, I think you would fit in quite nicely, we'll even waive our membership dues!”

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12. Andrew Moore said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 03:40PM

“Will Breakaway still rent bikes from the main shop at 1923 Chestnut St? Bicycling is the best way to see all that Fairmount Park has to offer and it's a shame that the rental shack has been black listed by the city government.”

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13. Wesley Pipes said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 08:08PM

“You have to love how all the Quaker City Wheelmen come out to argue on the internet. Way to go, boys!”

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14. D. Bagge said... on Jul 6, 2011 at 08:43PM

“Karen, you're right! Not only are the QCW guys pricks, they also eat with their mouths open, push the pace on the Drives "B" ride, AND... AND... ANNNNND... Their kits are totally heinous. Philly should ban QCW to the outer limits (i.e. NJ) but let Joe and Glenn keep their rental fleet open.

Karen, I was kidding about QCW (but not the part about their ugly clothing - FUGLY)”

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15. Kayron said... on Jul 7, 2011 at 07:06AM

“These comments are great. Just wait until QCW starts attacking its own as they do when they race.”

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16. Jay Gantz said... on Jul 7, 2011 at 08:34AM

“Regardless of what you think of Joe, Glenn, Breakaway, or QCW, I think you have to admit that the ineptitude of the city of Philadelphia administration is astounding, and to everyone's detriment. Starting the bid process in May? Shutting down the shack mid-season so there are NO rentals? Not being able to keep track of the $5,000 check (regardless of what it was for)? Making Joe/Glenn remove the shack, rather than just leave it and sell it to the next operator? Stories like this make me want to move to the suburbs.”

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17. Binder and Binder said... on Jul 7, 2011 at 02:05PM

“So let me get this straight, you sign a contract with the city where the city can terminate the contract at any time, and then get upset when they terminate the contract. Isn't one of you a lawyer?”

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18. aumu said... on Jul 8, 2011 at 06:58AM

“I suggest you racist's complaining about the monkeys running the city ought to move to Alaska or Siberia so you can be in an all white environment. To live in a city that is predominantly Black, Hispanic and Asian is somewhat silly.”

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19. Anonymous said... on Jul 8, 2011 at 06:20PM

“Philadelphia is racist, against white people. Any idea or complaint by a white person is met with shouts "racist". This city is a cess pool and yes, hard working , smart people continue to leave and this city will always have a 47% school drop out rate, inept governance, and ignorant racists too stupid to frame an intelligent argument.

Philadelphia == Detroit and the ones who see nothing wrong are too stupid to see this city as such”

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20. Chris said... on Jul 10, 2011 at 05:29PM

“I don't think Clarke, Goode or Jones cares about rental bikes. They didn't stand in the way of PhillyCarShare.

No, I think it's worse than that. Uncle Milty probably sees a kiosk business he can get himself into and had (or hired) Sharif Street to pull some strings. That's my hat in this ring, at least.

I am REALLY interested to see who gets to be the bike rental extraordinaire in 2012 because there is NO DOUBT that individual has set up the market by these actions the City suddenly decided to take, and on a whim out of the blue.

Where is the Bike Coalition in all this, praytell? Why won't they back up Breakaway and bitch to the City about it?”

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21. aumu said... on Jul 11, 2011 at 07:01PM

“Zookeeper is right!!! Let us play football and basketball, dont let us run the city!!!!

Brothers and Sisters were are wack!! We could have elected Lynn Swann, a black man as governor, but we looked for the hand out like we always do and put in that cross dressing cracker. No wonder our city is a mess.

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22. pete white said... on Jul 13, 2011 at 07:00AM

“hey aumu, whats up with all the racial stuff?”

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