Residents of Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg voiced their concerns over the placing of rental bike hubs as part of the launching of the bike-share program, saying that the plan to remove dozens of parking spaces to make room for the bikes will seriously inconvenience motorists and residents of their communities.
Concerned citizens expressed their worry at community board meetings last week, saying that the loss of two dozen parking places in Brooklyn Heights and Downtown, and another twelve in North Brooklyn will make an already serious parking shortage problem even worse.
“Parking is so scarce in Brooklyn Heights, anytime parking has been taken away it causes big concerns” said Brooklyn Heights Association director Judy Stanton.
Residents are urging the city to reconsider the placement of the rental bike hubs away from parking spots and instead installing them in parks, squares on simply on sidewalks. Stanton’s concrete suggestion was to move the Henry street bike dock off of the street between Joralemon and Middagh and put them on the wide sidewalk at Cadman Plaza on the south side of Tillary Street.
“We’ve always been pro-bike, but this is not the same thing as being pro-bike” Stanton said. “Hopefully they will consider alternatives to some of these locations.”
Wilfredo Florentino, a civic leader in North Brooklyn is also pressuring the transit planners to relocate the bike share docks so they do not force the removal of necessary parking spaces. There is one bike hub now slotted to be installed near a senior housing development and another to be placed in front of the Swinging Sixties Senior Center on Manhattan Avenue, the location of the meetings of Community Board 1.
“We are concerned with the potential elimination of parking spaces in areas of the district where parking is limited” said Florentino. “We expect the map they present at the full board reflects those suggestions, and if not, we will be prepared to voice our objection in writing.”
Advocates of the bike-share plan say that residents will actually gain parking when the bike-rental program goes into effect, since each parking spot represents a dozen bikes.
“You’re gaining parking in this way” said Transportation Alternatives director of bicycle advocacy Caroline Samponaro. “Where you once had one person’s car stored, you’re providing space for 12 people to come and go.”
Cyclists believe the trade-off is worth it.
“We have to give some of the spaces to bikers because bikers are people, too” said Community Board 1 member and cyclist Ryan Kuonen. “They take up less space than cars. C’mon, man!”
The innovative and ambitious bike-rental transit system is scheduled to be launched this coming July. The extensive locations around Brooklyn include Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, and Downtown. There will be 148 bike share stations throughout these neighborhoods, and in 2013 the program will be extended to more locations south of Atlantic Avenue.
A spokesman for the city said that transportation officials are still reviewing comments from the local community boards. The final maps of the bike-share locations will be released in the coming weeks.