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.”

  • Morris Zapp

    People calling to complain about this should be directed to mental health professionals.

    In all seriousness.

  • Reader

    Get all of the Citi Bike stations off of sidewalks and leave that space to pedestrians. It’s scarce enough.

    Motorists are always complaining that bikes are vehicles. So put these “vehicles” where they belong: on the street!

  • Jeff

    I don’t know about that. Let’s say a dog had twenty small pieces of meat in front of it, and you took one of the twenty away to feed another dog which was starving. The dog would probably start growling and showing its teeth. The dog isn’t mentally ill, it’s just a selfish idiot.

  • ocschwar

    Squeaky wheel gets the oil.

    Get squeaking, people.

  • vnm

    Also, shifting this 27-dock bike share station elsewhere wouldn’t make car parking any easier in the slightest. The spaces would just be taken up by other cars. What’s the difference if bikes are there or not? Either way, you can’t park there.

    If motorists actually wanted to be able to find spaces, they’d push for policies proven to make parking available. Like rational pricing.

  • Joe

    Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez Brooklyn Office: (718) 599-3658

    Council Member Steve Levin District Office: 718-875-5200

    Assemblyman Joe Lentol District Office: 718-383-7474

  • Jeff

    They don’t think that way though. To them, if it weren’t for that damn bike rack, those spaces would be available and open for their own personal use. Just like if it weren’t for that damn bike lane, that lane would be completely clear and available for them to cruise down without interference.

    It’s basically the equivalent of watching the Super Bowl on television and thinking to yourself, “Man, if it weren’t for that guy sitting in the 10th row, near the 30 yard line, wearing the blue jacket, I would have a ticket to the Super Bowl!”

  • Obviously with all of the development happening in Williamsburg and the thousands of new apartments slated to be built on the Domino Sugar Factory grounds, the only thing that can stop Kent Avenue from becoming a traffic nightmare is the preservation of these four parking spaces.

    Only in car math is 4 greater than 27.

  • Jesse
  • Alfonce

    I am a motorist so any time parking is taken away, it freaking pisses me off. Our roads are crazy enough, let alone all these citibikes. i think this was the worst thing ever though up. Like we need bicyclist all over our roads.

  • Brad Aaron

    Brilliant satire. You really nailed it.

  • Clarke

    Or, based on that article, is supposed to.

  • nycbikecommuter

    “We have received a couple complaints and have reached out to DOT”. A couple complaints? A couple?? I have a truckload of complaints regarding cars, who do I talk to?

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    Yet another reason we need cyclists to be more vocal. Don’t let the aging motorists dictate street use just they are board in retirement.

  • Edward Kenway

    Ya..I pay thousands in taxes, parking, and insurance to keep my car in nyc. I doubt your shitty bike makes any contributions to the city other than taking up traffic lanes and creating traffic jams causing delays in ambulance and fire truck response times. You let a private Corp take up ten parking spots of public space and then let the small bike rental businesses that rent bikes to tourists go bankrupt and for what? So you can ride your bike to work from April til november? Do you know how many businesses these bike racks and bike lanes disrupt? People need to get shipments to their store fronts, trucks need to unload on the sidewalk so they dont block traffic, commercial parking spots for plumbers, electricians, carpenters and construction. Old people need to get access to the street and ambulances need to have a clear path to the building. If you can’t afford to take a cab or train to work then I suggest you move out of the city.

  • Edward Kenway

    That lady that died in nyc because they couldn’t get the stretcher through the citibike racks..was she mentally ill?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    your driving is subsidized to the tune of $300 a month

    please stop leeching of the rest of us and start paying the full cost of your driving.

    you want parking ? pay for it

  • Alexander Vucelic

    great satire

  • Edward Kenway

    SUBSIDIZED??? What in the world are you saying?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    the piddling gas tax you pay doesn’t even cover 1/2 of maintaining the highways you drive on.

    streets and roads are neither maintained nor built with gas taxes.

    Every bridge or tunnel you drive on, even those with tolls, is not paid by drivers.

    Street and much off street Parking is nearly always free for drivers who haven’t paid a dime for it.

    Drivers murder 33,000 and maim 2,500,000 Americans every year with nil consequences.

    Drivers do not pay for Cops, Ambulances, etc which primarily are used to manage drivers

    Drivers do not pay for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that are sent to an early grave because of noise & air pollution caused by their dtiving.

    $300 a month subsidy easy.

  • Edward Kenway

    When I bought my car I paid a few grand in taxes. How much tax did you pay for your 200 dollar bike , alex?

  • Maggie

    You know how sales tax works, I bet. If you want a bike, buy a bike. If you want a car, buy a car. It’s not like if you bought a $200k car instead of a $20k one, you’d be entitled to 10x as much driving time on publicly funded roads. When you complain about taxes and not being able to store a car for free, get ready for some pushback.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    sales taxes go into general
    fund Doh

    Drivers are freeloaders leeching off everyone, every mile they drive

  • Joe R.

    “Ten parking spots of public space”? No, the entire street is public space, not parking spots, to be apportioned in whatever manner NYC decides serves the greatest good. This means the free curbside parking drivers like you think they’re entitled to only exists because of the good graces of NYC. NYC can prohibit curbside parking everywhere tomorrow and motorists will have no legal recourse whatsoever because they don’t own the space. The taxpayers do. Be glad NYC still has as much free curbside parking as it does. If it were up to me there would be none. It would be repurposed into loading zones, bus lanes, bike lanes, etc. Free parking for private automobiles in NYC is of no benefit to the majority of people here. In fact, it’s a net negative because it encourages driving and car ownership in a place where both things are generally bad.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Joe,

    I thinking Market clearing pricing for Street Parking in most of Manhattan might be $20 per hour from 0600 to 2100 and $40 to Park from 2100 to 0600.

    Your bit of Queens might have Rates of $5 a daytime hour and $10 to Park overnight

    does that seem fair and reasonable ?

  • Joe R.

    Probably. Paying at least $3650 a year to park in my area would certainly discourage a lot of car ownership.

  • Bolwerk

    Sorry, John Galt. Just regarding the highway system, forget local streets, direct driver fees (e.g., gas taxes) and tolls cover maybe 50% of the costs. Someone is paying for you somewhere.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    how much would it cost to park in a private garage in your area ?

  • stairbob

    And I have a carload of complaints regarding trucks.

  • Joe R.

    I don’t think there are any here. The closest ones are in Jamaica. Not sure of the rates there.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    i am guessing that $300 a month ( including city tax ) might be about right for Private parking in your area. That suggests $10 a for overnight on street is about The Right price.

  • Edward Kenway

    Not everyone in nyc lives in manhattan. You do know that right? I hope you do. There are only 1.6 million people in manhattan out of 8.4 million New Yorkers. Car ownership is the reason malls and small businesses outside manhattan are thriving. Car ownership is the reason you have anything in your house. Private car ownership is private commercial vehicles. That means people who actually work for a living that need those spots to park. Bicycles have no place in a city like new york. When cars go all electric I wonder what your excuse will be for having this much infrastructure just for some stupid bike riders.

  • Edward Kenway

    I store my car for free..in my driveway. And yes I am entitled to more road than you. Bikes are completely illegal outside of yhe bike lane..as a matter of fact a bike messenger crashed into me in 2014 trying to get some insurance money. He didnt get a dime and no one even cared about him..you know why? Because he wasn’t on the bike lane. That’s where you guys belong and if someone hits you in the “real” street, no one will pay a dime because they’re ILLEGAL! Bikes are not street legal. You have NO insurance, there’s no liability or ownership documents..NOTHING! Don’t you dare tell me I have no right to have a car after I have spent days filing documents, applying for licenses, paying taxes and purchasing insurance. Go to China if you want to ride a bike.

  • Joe R.

    I live in eastern Queens. I don’t have a car or a driver’s license. I get by just fine.

    Car ownership is the reason you have anything in your house.

    No, delivery trucks and other commercial vehicles are the reason, not private automobiles. Last I checked, private automobiles don’t make deliveries to grocery stores.

    That means people who actually work for a living that need those spots to park.

    And I favor getting rid of curbside parking for private automobiles in favor of loading zones for commercial vehicles.

    Bicycles have no place in a city like new york.

    Bicycles are great way to get around in NYC. They’re inexpensive, fast, and can easily be parked. Moreover, when I get home I park the bike right inside the same place I live, not in a public street. Not every place in NYC has good public transit nor is every trip close enough to walk. That’s where bikes come in. They allow anyone to make those trips easily and inexpensively.

    When cars go all electric I wonder what your excuse will be for having this much infrastructure just for some stupid bike riders.

    NYC is too densely populated for cars, electric or otherwise, to ever serve as transportation for more than a tiny minority. There just isn’t the street space for it. That’s why cars are a poor fit in urban areas. They make very inefficient use of limited space. They’re also dangerous because of very lax licensing standards in the US. 75% or more of the general public is unfit to drive. The licensing standards should reflect that. I’ll welcome electric cars over the gas-burning monstrosities we have now but they’ll still bring mostly the same problems, other than the pollution. Also, based on the automotive industry’s track record, I’m not optimistic most cars will be electric any time soon. The technology is certainly already there, but big oil won’t let it happen until they’ve sucked the ground dry.

    Also, it’s car drivers who are the stupid ones. Paying thousands of dollars a year for a car which is often no faster than a bike is the very definition of dumb. Get a bike. You’ll save thousands a year, you’ll be healthier, and you’ll have way more time on your hands. Think of how many fewer hours you’ll need to work if you don’t have a car to pay for.

  • Joe R.

    Bikes can ride on any street motor vehicles can go other than limited access expressways (and I’m trying to get a law passed which allows them on those as well).

    Don’t you dare tell me I have no right to have a car after I have spent days filing documents, applying for licenses, paying taxes and purchasing insurance.

    You do know those are all costs related to the car itself? They have nothing to do with anything else. Cars are inherently much more expensive than bikes, both to own and to use.

    Go to China if you want to ride a bike.

    Go to rural Nebraska if you want to drive. That’s the kind of place where cars make sense, not in the most densely populated city in the US

  • ahwr

    Market clearing price for street parking is the price to get 15% typical vacancy rates so it’s rare for someone to have to drive a single block to find a spot, never mind the ten or fifteen minutes many end up cruising for. In much of Queens east of the Van Wyck outside of Flushing and Jamaica the price to get that vacancy rate is $0.00. Where it’s higher there are occasional proposals to get it down to that level by excluding people from the parking market. In Bayside some want to put in a residential parking permit system because they think LIRR commuters are crowding them out. Around Queens college plenty want to keep college students from parking on the street. The campus has parking, but they sell the spots they have below a market rate (no other paid parking market here, my assertion is based on the shortages created by the pricing – dealt with by lottery at the beginning of the term). In Flushing and Jamaica the expensive garages might charge close to $300, a block or two away the price might be $150. Go a quarter mile away and there generally is no parking shortage, and no justification for charging for parking based on a market clearing price because that price is $0.00, because zoning restrictions have prevented development.

  • Joe R.

    There is justification though for reducing the parking supply, perhaps enough to get the market clearing price higher than zero. This justification is based on safety reasons. Intersections should be daylighted for safety. In order to prevent double-parking, which is both dangerous and causes needless delays, spots where delivery trucks go should be repurposed as loading zones. There are also some corridors where it may make sense to ditch curbside parking in favor of bus lanes or bike lanes.

  • Edward Kenway

    I have a personal private car and a private car used as a commercial vehicle. Do you know what a private commercial vehicle is? I don’t think you do. My vehicles make me money. Your bikes cost me money. I cannot take a bike to work and neither can a few million other new yorkers. How many bike riders can deliver anything heavier than 50 pounds? How many bikes have you seen used as ambulances and fire trucks. If you belive cars should have less of a priority than bikes then you should move far far away my friend, probably to a different country. This city moves because of cars, there’s billions of dollars at stake here because you want to ride a bike like a 6 year old breaking traffic laws.

  • Maggie

    Edward, whats the death you’re talking about? Do you have details, like a link?

  • Maggie

    I’m having trouble following. Sorry. You pay thousands in parking, and you store your car in your driveway for free?

  • Joe R.

    Your cars make you money. That’s the key work, you. They don’t benefit me, nor do they benefit NYC as a whole. Whatever taxes you may pay, I’ll bet good money your cars cost NYC a heck of a lot more because of the problems cars in general cause in heavily populated places. Plenty of people in NYC make money and pay taxes without driving.

    Your bikes cost me money.

    How the fuck do my bikes cost you money? For starters they barely cost me any money beyond occasional parts. Last I checked I don’t see any checks from you deposited in my bank account. Of course, donations are always welcome. 🙂

    If you belive cars should have less of a priority than bikes then you should move far far away my friend, probably to a different country.

    Why are you mixing up essential and nonessential motor vehicles? Delivery trucks, buses, emergency vehicles, construction vehicles, sanitation vehicles, etc. are all necessary. Private automobiles are not. You say you have a private commercial vehicle. Depending upon what you do, it may or may not be essential to the functioning of NYC even if it makes money for you personally.

    Why do you believe bikes should have less of a priority than other vehicles? People on bikes are often going somewhere, perhaps to work, or perhaps to a business engagement. Bikes aren’t just play toys.

    This city moves because of cars, there’s billions of dollars at stake here because you want to ride a bike like a 6 year old breaking traffic laws.

    Really? NYC as we know it only exists because of its subway system. Nothing else could move as many people in as small a space. Only a fraction of the motor vehicles on the roads are truly essential for the city to function.

    The general concept here is NYC is reprioritizing its streets to move the maximum number of people. You can move a lot more people on any given street when they’re on foot, on bikes, or in buses. Wrap your head around this idea before spewing garbage like “there’s billions of dollars at stake here because you want to ride a bike like a 6 year old breaking traffic laws.” The city would actually function better if more people used bikes instead of cars. Essential motor vehicles might actually be able to get around faster, instead on being caught in traffic jams consisting mostly of non-commercial private automobiles with one occupant.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    plus increase availabilty of loading – off loading space for deliveries.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    so your commercial car ‘business’ is entirely dependrnt on getting subsidized by ‘stupid’ bike riders, pedestrians, and subway riders.

    You want free parking, free bridges, free highways all so you can run your business.

    you think that’s fajr ?

  • Bolwerk

    If I were to guess, going by the places people talk about, the typical Streetsblog NYC commenter demographic seems to be predominantly North and South Brooklyn with the rest scattered around the rest of the city.

  • Maggie

    This just doesn’t make sense. If driving your car is part of your profession, the costs are part of the cost of doing business. Right? It costs your customers money, not you.

    Some people don’t shop from businesses that are unfriendly to cyclists, by the way.

  • Maggie

    Ironically, fully pedestrianized streets in Williamsburg during the busiest shopping hours would be a huge improvement for the experience and flow through to retailers’ profits. An uphill climb politically, but would be fantastic on weekends.

  • Elizabeth Hicks

    I’ll be starting a change. Org petition about citibike taking up valuable parking. Now they have expanded and placed bikes on Central Park west on the side walk which I don’t mind but two blocks down took up an entire block of legal free parking making it even more difficult to find parking. Sometimes we are out there three hours trying to find parking. It’s just a away for the city to make more revenue off of tickets because they are limiting parking further and further. Central Park is right there and should be utilized since a lot of people take the bikes in the park. Cars are not allowed in most of the park anyway. They should use the vast space at the entrances of the park for citibike instead of taking up valuable parking.

  • Elizabeth Hicks

    I see a lot of people commenting about parking and they don’t own vehicles themselves. I think everyone should think about what’s fair for both cyclists AND vehicle owners. I’m seeing a lot of hate towards other parties instead of people trying to understand the other parties side. You can have citibike racks in locations that are convenient for cyclist but that also don’t take away valuable parking. For those commenting about no vehicles in NYC are not being realistic. I personally can’t take public transportation due to medical reasons and my significant other drivers me to and from my medical appointments and we need a vehicle for that and other reasons and this we need parking that is free. Not everyone in NYC has a ton of money to throw away on private parking and tickets, hence trying to find free parking.

  • Joe R.

    Maybe I’ll start a change.org petition about free private car storage taking up valuable space which could be used for wider sidewalks (sorely needed in Manhattan), bus lanes (sorely needed in Manhattan), loading zones (sorely needed in Manhattan), and so forth.

    Sometimes we are out there three hours trying to find parking.

    When a good or service is free or underpriced, like curbside parking in NYC, then demand exceeds supply. That results in a shortage with all this implies. You seem to want to be able to park quickly wherever you want but then you come out with this gem:

    Not everyone in NYC has a ton of money to throw away on private parking and tickets, hence trying to find free parking.

    You can’t have both free parking and a large supply of readily available parking in a place like NYC. A few spots taken up by Citibike racks aren’t going to make any material difference in how long it takes you to find a parking spot. If the racks weren’t there, those spots would quickly fill up with cars and you’ll still be driving around three hours looking for parking. I might suggest if you can’t take public transit due to disabilities that you take Access-A-Ride. They’ll drop you off right at your destination and pick you up when you’re done. No time wasted looking for parking.

    You might also perhaps start a petition to get NYC to ban unnecessary private cars in Manhattan. Most of the people using cars and parking spots in Manhattan are not disabled. They’re perfectly capable of getting around by some other means. Banning nonessential private car use would free up both parking and street space for people like you who might really need to use private automobiles.

  • Vooch

    curbside parking is too valuable to be free.

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