A public hearing organized after Citi Bike’s contentious introduction to Community Board 6 neighborhoods in late August was surprisingly passionate. It drew crowds of residents both for and against the bike share system.
The October 20th hearing, held at the 78th precinct near Barclays Center, came after a heated CB6 meeting last month, during which residents sharply criticized the new Citi Bike docks and stations, an item that had no been included on the meeting’s agenda.
Eric McClure, transportation committee co-chair, began with some figures and data related to Citi Bike’s implementation in the region. “The district office received roughly 800 emails in regards to Citi Bike,” he said. McClure personally visited 30 Citi Bike stations in Park Slope, and told residents that 77 parking spaces were taken by the bikes as a whole in the neighborhood, less than one percent of spaces.
Comments on parking, the density of Citi Bike locations, and the benefits of the bike share program, among others, filled the packed room for nearly two hours. Speakers were often met with cheers or boos. Several residents were initially held from entering the meeting hall, after the room reached full capacity.
Brooklyn resident Jane Rod brought printed maps of Citi Bike docks in Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Red Hook, and Gowanus, and showed board members and residents. “We have way too many,” Rod said. “I’m kind of wondering about the numbers already.”
Park Slope resident Robert Krakovski, a car owner and cyclist, said he is not against the program and finds it “wonderful,” but with a few caveats.
“I take exception to ‘anybody who owns a car in the neighborhood is doing so out of self indulgence’,” Krakovski said. The implementation of the bikes, he said, was done “at the expense of a segment of society.”
“It felt like a slap in the face,” he said, a comment met with applause and shouts of approval.
Joshua Katz, a high school student, said he and his mother are avid Citi Bike users, but sees a problem in distribution. “We use them not only for transportation but for exercise,” the Park Slope resident said. “All in all, I think these Citi Bikes are a great idea, but there could be a little reduction.”
The comments, collected by CB6 Chairperson Sayar Lonial, will go to the Department of Transportation. Board members, along with City Council member Brad Lander who live-streamed the meeting on Facebook, expressed their disappointment in the DOT for refusing to appear at the event. “I’m very disappointed,” said Lonial. “It’s a shame they chose not to be here.”
Comments made at the meeting, along with written comments sent to the district office, will be reviewed by the board and the DOT, who will then evaluate the docking stations in CB6 neighborhoods, potentially leading to some changes.
“We put in these stations and it is a test in each and every case to see how well used they are,” Mayor de Blasio said to a caller complaining about Citi Bikes on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC earlier this month. “If they’re very heavily used, good. If they’re not, we can take them back out, or we can alter them, or change locations.”