Manhattan CB9 Big: Citi Bike Won’t Get ‘Our’ Parking Without A Fight

CB9 Transportation Committee Co-Chairwoman Carolyn Thompson (in pink) predicts a battle over every parking space in Harlem when Citi Bike wants to site its docks. Photo: Dave Colon
CB9 Transportation Committee Co-Chairwoman Carolyn Thompson (in pink) predicts a battle over every parking space in Harlem when Citi Bike wants to site its docks. Photo: Dave Colon

There’s gonna be a showdown.

The Department of Transportation’s first community meeting to find sites for Citi Bike docks north of 130th Street was a quiet, respectful affair on Monday night at City College — but threatened to become anything but when the Transportation Committee co-chairwoman of the notoriously pro-car Community Board 9 said the city will have to pry away parking spots from residents’ cold, dead hands.

“If parking spots come up and they take the spots, people are going to fight them because they already feel enough parking spaces have been taken from the community,” the board executive, Carolyn Thompson, told Streetsblog, without specifying where curbside had allegedly been reclaimed for public use. “So that would be problematic, because there’s such a scare amount of parking spots, people are going to scream and shout.” [It should be noted that Citi Bike reimburses the city for street parking.]

Streetsblog readers will remember Thompson as one of the primary foes of the Amsterdam Avenue redesign, a road diet that was held up for two years and was only pushed through after 26-year-old Erica Imbasciani was killed by a drugged driver in March. Thompson said that her repeated remarks in opposition to the road diet (“I don’t care what they’re saying, it slows traffic down”) were taken out of context, but reiterated her opposition to the street safety changes. She has also disputed census figures that show a small minority of district residents own cars. She has been consistently reappointed by street safety advocate Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, despite their disagreement over the road diet plan.

But even if Thompson is opposed to using the curbside for Citi Bike docks, the bike share expansion is still happening, from Harlem to the south Bronx. And with that guarantee in mind, a small handful of Community Board 9 residents gathered to help DOT find the best locations. It’s the beginning of a process that will involve the city agency collecting data at visioning sessions like these, and then creating a draft plan to bring to community boards, before installing the docks.

Parking spot anxiety or not, attendees at the table where Thompson and Community Board 9 Chairman Barry Weinberg sat still dotted the map with plenty of blue stickers indicating where they want Citi Bike docks. For his part, Weinberg told Streetsblog that trading parking spots for bike share docks would be “a give and take” and that he was concerned with making sure the docks were placed “appropriately.”

From the very beginning of bike share’s life in New York to its current expansion, Citi Bike has managed to remain a somehow controversial subject for community boards. Where parking will be the fight in Harlem, executives in Bushwick’s Community Board 4 suggested the neighborhood wasn’t safe enough to welcome bike share’s expansion. Through it all, Citi Bike has managed to grow into a reliable piece of New York’s transportation system with tens of thousands of rides every day, including a record 90,000-plus day last month.

The Citi Bike docks are slated to be installed around Community Board 9 in the spring.

The DOT will be holding visioning sessions in Bronx Community Board 1 on Wednesday, Oct. 23 and in Manhattan Community Board 10 on Monday, Oct. 28. Details on the Streetsblog calendar.

The siting process continues. Photo: Dave Colon
The siting process continues this week. Photo: Dave Colon


Bike-Share Already Getting More Use Than Park Slope’s Free Parking Spots

The new bike-share stations in Brooklyn south of Atlantic Avenue are getting a lot more use than your average free on-street parking space, according to recent Citi Bike data compiled by Carroll Gardens resident Viktor Geller [PDF]. Geller addressed the report to Brooklyn Community Board 6, which is holding a hearing on Thursday in response to complaints about bike-share stations […]

Read Brad Lander’s Pitch-Perfect Statement on Bike-Share and Parking

City Council Member Brad Lander released a pitch-perfect response to complaints about bike-share and curbside parking today. Other NYC pols should take note. Every time bike-share expands to new neighborhoods, some people get upset — mainly because the local supply of free curbside car parking shrinks by a fraction of a percent. Last week Assembly Member Dan O’Donnell, who represents the […]

5 Highlights From Last Night’s Bike-Share vs. Parking Meeting

Last night’s Brooklyn Community Board 6 bike-share forum lacked the fireworks of previous meetings — no physical threats this time. While the tone was civil, the demands from the anti-bike-share crowd weren’t exactly reasonable. So far, Citi Bike has proven incredibly popular in CB 6, with some stations getting as much as seven rides per dock each day. That’s […]

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

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 […]

Earth to New York Post: Citi Bike Stations Are Designed to Be Flexible

Hats off to Matt Flegenheimer for the enlightening piece in today’s Times describing the lessons from other bike-share systems that informed New York’s big decisions about Citi Bike. This passage stood out, given the recent tabloid coverage about station placement: In London and Paris, stations are trenched in the ground, rendering them difficult to remove. Kiosks in […]

Vacca Looks to Squeeze $ From Bikes, But Won’t Touch the Price of Parking

The headline from today’s City Council transportation committee oversight hearing was Janette Sadik-Khan’s announcement that the official launch date for Citi Bike is Memorial Day. Meanwhile, for Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca, it was another occasion to flail at bikes and defend cheap parking under the guise of holding a budget hearing. Sadik-Khan kicked off the hearing […]