Monday, October 10, 2016

CitiBike: Community Board 6 Transportation Committee To Hold Public Hearing On Recent Expansion In District

Love them or hate them… Ever since the CitiBike bike sharing program has expanded into our area this past August, local residents have had lots to say about  the new docking stations which have been installed in Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Gowanus and beyond.
Those who are thrilled that the blue bikes are finally available here seem glad to have an alternative to the subway and appreciate the easily access to other parts of the City.
However, many others have complained about the number and location of docking stations on neighborhood streets as well as loss of parking spots.
Those sentiments were freely and loudly expressed at a recent Community Board 6 general meeting by a group of angry residents. So much so, that police had to be called.

Community Board 6 has now organized a public hearing to expressly discuss the bike sharing expansion at its Transportation/ Public Safety sub-committee meeting scheduled for Thursday, October 20th, 2017, 6:30 pm, at the 78th Police Precinct, 65 6th Avenue, 4th floor (between Dean/Bergen Streets).

From Community Board 6:
IN THE MATTER OF the expansion of New York City’s bike share program, CitiBike, into the Brooklyn Community Board 6 district, the Community Board’s Transportation/Public Safety Committee will conduct a Public Hearing to gather public comment on the deployment of the bicycle docking stations, and any other aspect of the bike share program, for the primary purpose of reviewing and evaluating the density, location, placement, and size of the district’s docking stations with the Department of Transportation.
Members of the public will have the opportunity to testify up to 3 minutes. Speakers must sign-in at the meeting to testify. There is no pre-registration. Speakers may not transfer time to other speakers. Written comment may also be emailed to the district office at or mailed to the address below by 5:00pm on October 20th.

One can only hope that the conversation about the expansion of the bike share program will be a bit more productive (and less threatening) than at the CB6 September general meeting.

Will you attend?


Anonymous said...

The pro-Citibike people better show up because I guarantee the anti-bike crowd will be there despite being the minority.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for bike riding but this latest bike craze is dangerous. No helmets, no knowledge of rules of the road (there should be a riders permit for kije riders like there is for car drivers), no courtesy. Pedestrians and drivers are endangered. Now you have to look and check constantly to watch your back, because bike riders assume all rights. I was almost hit crossing the street with a Walk sign because bike riders don't stop at red lights. I actually thanked a bike rider last week for stopping at a red light while I was crossing. And at night I've encountered many bikers who don;t use lights making them impossible to see coming at you or riding behind you. And putting in "bike lanes" in already narrow streets is insane.

Anonymous said...

As a cyclist, I hate to agree with Anonymous 8:02am. So many new cyclists who ignore the rules (they're clearly written on every Citibike) My son and I almost got nailed last week by a rider who was 'salmoning' (going the wrong way on a one-way street)while we had the walk and he ran a red light.

The LAWS are:
Ride in the Same Direction as Traffic.
Follow All Traffic Signs and Signals.
Yield to Pedestrians.
Stay Off Sidewalks.
Never Ride Distracted-Wearing Headphones in Both Ears is Illegal.
Use Hand Signals When Turning and Do Not Weave In and Out of Traffic.

Anonymous said...

I love and use Citibike, and am a car owner.
The racks' placement and saturation level in our neighborhood is problematic. To instantly lose 30 parking spots in a 3 block radius is really bad planning.
Citibike isn't rebalancing the bikes fast enough, so if you don't get one by 8:15, you can't get one until after 4:30.
It's also not lost on us how no stations went in at Henry & Union, probably because that's where the cops park their cars.

JMB said...

My fiancee and I are relatively new to the neighborhood (~ 2 years) after living around Brooklyn the past 5 years. We have had nothing but the nicest of experiences and interactions in Carroll Gardens and often greet and smile at familiar faces around the neighborhood, many of whom I imagine have lived here a long time.

This streak of kindness and peace ended recently we were quite aggressively assaulted by who I imagine is one of the angry anti-citibike neighbors. As we were removing our bikes from the station to take a ride, the woman approaches us and starts yelling at us. Saying that "CitiGroup supports Donald Trump", saying that our "use of the bikes supports him, and that we are bad people because of it". As we were stunned and unsure how to react to our first truly negative and unfortunate interaction in the neighborhood, she walked away shouting at us "you don't care! you don't care!".

I understand she is probably angry about the bikes, but attacking riders is no way to get what she wants.

Curious about her comments, we decided to validate her claims. It seems she was completely mistaken: CitiGroup is actually one of the largest supporters of the Clinton campaign, and as far as we can verify, hasn't given any money to Trump. So not only was this woman assaulting her neighbors, she was doing so with false information. Probably seeing a nice young couple and assuming we would believe her, she came up with whatever ammunition she could invent to get us to not use the bikes.

We cannot fit bicycles into our apartment, and citibike has provided a nice alternative to driving to access harder to reach areas of Brooklyn, like Red Hook. It also allows me to get to my Brooklyn office without changing trains or buses. We also have a car we use for weekend trips, which we move every couple days in a creative manner to accommodate the street cleaning, which is now admittedly more challenging to find parking, but not so much that it outweighs the benefits of biking to where we need to go.

Long story short, if you're angry about the bikes talk to the city council, don't attack your neighbors.

Katia said...

Sorry that you had to deal with such an angry neighbor, JMB. I agree that the discussion should not be happening between bikers and local residents, but with our elected officials or at the upcoming CB6 hearing on the matter.

chance bliss said...

in response to anonymous at 9:00 AM, i too love and use citibike, and i also happen to be a car owner but i agree that the citibike stations have taken up too many parking spots. there are three stations within one block of my apartment between henry and clinton, and six within a three block radius, though i must say that the usage of the bikes appears to be high - the stations are often empty or close to empty.

on that note, i also second the concern about the bike re-balancing issue.

i've met some of the anti-citibike people in the neighborhood. there were two women collecting signatures for a petition outside of henry's local one morning. i spoke with them, and said i appreciated the problem of the loss of parking, but i still supported the citibike program.

there seems to be a schism between self-described old timers from the neighborhood and the newbies (by definition, it would appear to be anyone who has lived here for 15 years or less - which makes me a newbie). i have yet to meet someone from the neighborhood who consider themselves an old-timer who has voiced their support for the citibike program. most of the anti-citibike folks that i have met grumble about the loss of parking spots, and add it to a list of grievances of how the neighborhood is changing without their input.

i understand that it's a convenience, but in the long term, i'm optimistic that the number of citibike stations will probably be adjusted (i.e. reduced or at least re-distributed) while i also believe that the citibike program will benefit the entire neighborhood in a number of different ways.

el verde said...

i think it's a nice service to have, but there are SO many stations (which i get is needed for the system to function properly) but why can't they make them each house 4-5 bikes, instead of 20+

Using sidewalks where there is room instead of taking up parking spaces. (I've seen them done at an angle when placed on sidewalks and it's really a much better option)

Lastly - citibikes should have unique license plates large enough for people to report users who disobey the law and endanger fellow cyclists, pedestrians and themselves.

neil said...

El Verde's comment is one of the best I've heard - the citibikes should have plates so riders can be flagged for bad behavior (of course, wouldn't it be great if it was so easy to do that for cars). Plenty of the riders don't follow rules or good etiquette. I think part of the problem is that the roads as they are laid out don't make it easy for bikers to easily follow the law - there are a lot of one-way streets and bike lanes that switch direction or end, making it hard to get across town.

I'm a car owner, a runner, a walker and a citibike user. Overall I love the concept, and I'm actually thrilled there is a station so close to my house - it supports exactly what the intended use is, which is for people to make shortish crosstown trips where the subway or bus isnt practical. I don't particularly care if free public space on the street is put to better use than allowing people to store private property there. Like it or not, the city is only getting more dense (another million people coming by 2050!) and we need many more options to get around than private cars.

Unknown said...

Citibikes with plates is an excelLent idea except that it would require a way to easily trace who rode what bike when. I'm not sure how the bike use works. Bike riders might be more careful and less rude (those who are rude) if they knew there could be some recourse. Things as they stand right now will just create more anxiety and antipathy.

Anonymous said...

Chance bliss, I'm one of the so-called "old timers" (all of my 63 years in CG), and I consider myself to be pretty fair and liberal minded. In addition, I don't self-describe myself as such. The prevailing notion of old timers really, really bothers me, and I'm tired of reading characterizations of long-time residents. I'm not accusing you, but I've read too many comments on this blog over the years with that attitude. Are there cantankerous old-timers here? You bet there are! I even know some of them; but we shouldn't be lumped together just as I don't lump all newbies together. Thanks for allowing me to vent.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. The Citibikes program doesn't bother me. It's a great concept, but the saturation of docking stations in CG just seems to be excessive as you suggested. I don't ride a bike, and I don't own a car, so parking is not an issue for me -- and I won't use Citibikes unless I want to break my neck. However, as you similarly expressed, I do understand how the loss of parking can be a problem for many people especially if they own more than one car for family reasons. I've seen shouting matches break out on my street over spaces, and this goes way, way back, even to my childhood. Parking availability was always, but always, difficult here; it's just gotten worse now. So are some people all riled up? Yep.

I agree that the stations should have been allocated more equitably in CG and not bunched up in such close proximity to each other. I've seen the station by the viaduct on 2nd Place, and it seems that there's plenty of room to have expanded it thereby eliminating the need for the station at Carroll Park. The plan needs to be revisited. My opinion only. Why that wasn't done, I don't know.

P.S. As for the woman who screamed at JMB, well, she obviously doesn't have any manners. There's no need to scream and yell at people you don't agree with. It's "brutta figura" in Italian -- bad form, bad manners.

chance bliss said...

hello anonymous at october 13, 2016 3:29 PM

you are right. i apologize for using the term "old timers" and for grouping all long term residents together. i'll do better to generalize less and be more nuanced and specific about whom i referring to , and to avoid that term all together - although i didn't mean to use it as a pejorative.

my landlords are fourth generation carroll gardeners - and often times, they help us better understand the dynamics of the neighborhood as they seem to know most of the people within the three to four block radius of where we live, and their understanding of the changes are quite nuanced, so i'll do my best to keep them in mind when i speak of long term residents.

Jill said...

What I would like to know: Does Citi-bikes pay for their use of the street space? If yes, how much? And does that money come into our community? I will give up parking (grudgingly) if it benefits our parks, our streets. I am also very in favor of reducing emissions and use of bikes in general to reduce the burden on public transportation and cars, and even contribute to public health. But what concerns me is that the prices for the bikes are very high if you don't buy a monthly permit, which leads me to believe that the motives behind this initiative have nothing to do with quality of life factors. Does anyone have any information about who is making money and where it is going?

Anonymous said...

Chance bliss, Anon 10/13, 3:29 here. Thanks for your understanding. Just keep in mind that some long-time, life-long residents here are retired or currently working professionals around my age, some older, I know professors, lawyers, and other professionals who live on my block right smack in the middle of CG. Some of them have been here longer than I. Perhaps you haven't met them yet.

As for the working class that has lived here for generations, my father was a blue collar union worker, my mother a homemaker, my grandfather a longshoreman, my grandmother a seamstress. All of them immigrants, and I was an infant when my mother came here in 1953 to join my father and his parents. I would consider them more enlightened than most, and I can tell you that my parents, especially my mother, were way ahead of their times. Different sensibilities, perhaps.

Please take this with the good humor with which it's offered: I was educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph in both elementary (in CG) and high school (downtown Brooklyn), and private college in Manhattan run by a different order of Sisters. I will never forget the nun in high school who wrote a lesson for us on the blackboard: "Never assume." It makes an "ass" out of "u" and. "me."

Have a good weekend.

Earl said...

re: Citibike license plates... so would this mean something would 'happen' when I call in the license plate # of local knuckleheads who

1) run red lights 3-4-5 seconds after they turn

2) run through stop signs without a pretense to stopping

3) park or double park in the bike lane instead of taking an open, legal spot nearby OR circling around the block while their partner / passenger 'just runs a quick errand'

However imperfedt Citibike and its users-- and believe me, I despise Citi the corporation and think this is a VERY cheap form of 'penance' for their myriad transgressions-- they pale to insignifance compared to the daily inconsideration and recklessness of many drivers.

(I defy someone to stand outside Whole Foods, for example, and not see those jerks nearly run over pedestrians and cyclists alike.)

Thanks for any info!

Jill said...

Fascinated that no one else seems to be interested in the money aspect of this, i.e., who is making money off selling our streets and does this money go back into our community (streets, parks, library etc). I am not sure I can get to the hearing, but please someone ask this question.

Alexuma said...

Whatever happened with this meeting? Did anyone attend who can report back?