A Handful of Car Spaces, or a 27-Dock Citi Bike Station?

Parking for 27 bikes has replaced parking for four or five cars, and complaints abound. Photo: Stephen Miller
Parking for up to 27 public bikes replaced parking for approximately four cars. But will it last? Photo: Stephen Miller

Because a construction site is blocking the sidewalk on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, a Citi Bike station was taken off the sidewalk in mid-April and re-installed along the protected bike lane on the other side of South 11th Street a couple of weeks ago, replacing a handful of parking spaces. The new site was the only space near the Schaefer Landing ferry dock that could accommodate the Citi Bike station within the city’s siting guidelines, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Cue the parking complainers.

Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, a major backer of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, has reportedly contacted DOT on behalf of constituents who want those free parking spaces back. Streetsblog checked in with local elected officials, and Council Member Steve Levin and Assembly Member Joe Lentol reported receiving complaints about the loss of parking.

“We have received a couple complaints and have reached out to DOT,” said Lentol spokesperson Edward Baker. “DOT is looking at ways to free up some additional parking in the immediate area to offset the spaces lost to the bike-share station.”

DOT and Citi Bike have not responded to questions about what changes, if any, they are considering. But it’s possible that the station might be removed — or re-sited too far from the ferry dock for people to make convenient bike-share-to-ferry connections — because people who care about free parking are very good at contacting their elected officials.

The people who benefit from the bike-share station may not be making phone calls about it, but they’re out there. In fact, many more people can use those 27 Citi Bike docks than the four or so car parking spaces they replaced.

Monika Drelich, 38, lives nearby. She uses the station several times each week and was upset when it was removed in April. “I know that people complain about the parking,” she said, “but it wasn’t convenient for me.”

Freddy Savarese, 30, has commuted from South Williamsburg to Downtown Brooklyn on Citi Bike since March and said he noticed the missing station this spring. His girlfriend owns a car but hasn’t noticed a change in the parking situation since the station was relocated to the parking lane, he said.

Isaac Friedman, 23, was parking his minivan on Kent Avenue. “I would think that they would move it from the sidewalk over here to the sidewalk over there,” he said. “They didn’t ask me.” I asked Friedman if the loss of parking spaces made it more difficult to park in the neighborhood. He didn’t seem especially concerned.

Sam Ferguson, 31, is moving to an apartment around the corner and was checking out the bike-share station Monday. “It was one of the draws to moving here. We’re a little bit from the subway line. And the bike path is great,” he said, looking at the Kent Avenue bikeway.

Ferguson and his girlfriend own a car, and haven’t had any trouble parking in the neighborhood. “We’ve driven here a half-dozen times and it’s never been a problem,” he said. Ferguson looked at the 27-dock bike-share station. “This is parking for thirty. It just happens to be bikes.”