Eyes on the Street: Red Hook Ikea Parking Lot Opens for Business


We hate to pile on more bad news today, but these tipster-submitted photos of the Brooklyn Ikea grand opening bear witness to the onslaught of traffic about to engulf Red Hook. Apparently, the cars queuing up for cheaply-constructed furniture are stretching the store’s 1,400 parking spaces to the max (which would explain why Ikea thought it necessary to annex the old Revere Sugar refinery lot next door). Judging from this anecdotal evidence, Red Hook will not only be subject to the 17,000 car trips projected for peak days, but most of those vehicles will be of the huge, extra-cargo-hauling variety.

One shopper, at least, braved the trip on a bike, despite the fact that Ikea’s website doesn’t supply directions to cyclists. His picture comes after the jump.


  • B-Rand

    That GMC truck to the left in the pic with the cyclist is disgusting to me. That monster is huge. Although, the person driving could be using it for work.

  • hmm, can we say guerilla traffic calming via aptly-placed ‘wood grain’ particle board?


    i guess we could, but it would be a mouthful.

  • Dave H.

    I’ve biked to Ikea in New Haven many times. They have a shoddy bike rack in front. Not much but something.

  • This looks like the Ikea in Burbank, CA!

    It feels like and Indian train station near the doors to the store – with coolies (dads and boyfriends) hauling stuff into waiting carriages. Kids running through the crowds. A lone “security” guard who speaks a language nobody shopping understands. And always, always, no place to park your car.

    My solution to this? I got a bakfiets. Cyclists should reserve the right to be consumer whores on our own terms.

  • Me

    So is there a bike rack at Ikea or anywhere else to lockup your bike?

  • Clarence

    I have not seen any bike racks at this IKEA anywhere, despite the huge amount of parking for cars. There are so many places they could stash some racks, come on.

    Last week during a public day special invite, there must have been about 30 people on line one morning to get in and 3 bikes locked up to the railing in front of the store.

    One thing I will say – the park IKEA has created is beautiful. I took two runs thru it last week before it was officially opened and I was actually stunned by the quality and beauty (minus the giant blue color hovering over the entire park…) Still at least they got that part mostly right.

  • gecko

    Heard a couple of weeks ago that they were catching big bluefish as large as 17 pounds and stripers nearby.

  • Ian D

    Unfortunately a flat tire (two, actually, the first on the W’burg Bridge but unrelated to the staples-issue) spoiled the plans of Shea and me, but we *were* going to bike down to Pier 11 and board the water taxi with our bikes, in order to buzz around Red Hook a bit as well as make a first visit to IKEA.

    Now the plan is to do it tomorrow. I’ll report back if it doesn’t go smoothly.

  • GAPCo

    went for the opening yesterday (did not score a free chair, but the kids got free stuffed toys)…there were at least a dozen bikes locked to the fence running along the front of the store. I did not see any racks. A sad oversight.

    I would like to second the kudos for the esplanade – it is marvelously evocative of Red Hook’s maritime history – the design incorporates the tools of the ship-building/repair trade (rope, concrete blocks, winches and carts, not to mention the 3 or 4 massive cranes still standing) in a way that’s both attractive and informative.

  • Jessica

    I do believe the Erie Basin Park behind Ikea wins the city’s “Most sittable benches” award and truly is a destination in itself.

    It also sets the bar high for subsidized water front parks development. Lets hope those williamsburg condo developers take notice…

  • d

    Although it was promised, there is no bike rack at this IKEA yet. It was reported on the Brian Lehrer show yesterday that it had not yet been installed.

    Considering that delivery is so cheap within Brooklyn ($39, cheaper than renting a car for five or six hours) they should have TONS of bike parking. I’d imagine a lot of people would make the trip from Park Slope, Carrol Gardens, Brooklyn Heights, etc. if there was a secure place to park, especially since they wouldn’t pay much to get their stuff shipped home.

    It’s a small thing, but why do so many big box stores and companies promise one thing and then not follow through! They could have spent $100 on a cheap bike rack and few people would have complained.

  • Free new parks and transit = Big box store. I love the future.

  • paulb

    I rode my folder down there and tucked it in a shopping cart. A former co-worker of mine is a manager there, they’ve been scrambling for opening day, there will be bike racks, I’m pretty sure.

    What a beautiful job. It seems to me that there’s box stores and there’s box stores, and Ikea really knows what it’s about. They will deliver within a 70 mile radius for $80 (t may seem like a lot, but that is a flat rate and would probably be less than 10% of any major expedition there), although signs within the store suggest “taking it with you.” I tried to get some Swedish meatballs, but the cafes were so overwhelmed, I couldn’t get close. Clarence, Gapco and gecko are so right about the esplanade/park. It’s very fine.

    Zealous environmentalists are never going to be happy. But Red Hook and Brooklyn come out ahead. Way ahead.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Rather than just complain about auto-oriented development, I hope someone buys one of those suddenly affordable SUVs and sets up a nearby business assembling IKEA furniture and then delivering it (and/or delivering it without assembling it). Then one could bike there and get the furniture home.

    It’s the next best thing to my usual furniture strategy — picking up abandoned stuff off the sidewalk, and leaving stuff on the sidewalk to be picked up.

  • gecko

    suspect a quick call to dot will provide bike racks.

  • “suspect a quick call to dot will provide bike racks.”

    Perhaps, but when a big box store like this comes in and spends millions of dollars to open the first IKEA in NYC, they should have made bicycle racks a priority. And, they promised bike racks:


  • d

    Call IKEA and ask to speak to a manager.

    718-246-IKEA (4532)

    Be polite and ask them when and if they plan to install a bike rack.

    I suspect that having a bike rack installed will be easier than dealing with dozens of phone calls from people. With a new store to manage, who wants to spend so much time fielding phone calls?

  • In view of the fact that they actually constructed a whole bunch of waterfront park (in contradiction to what other developers do), I have a hard time complaining about the lack of bike parking. If I’m going to go shopping, I’m MUCH more likely to take the B61 or the shuttle buses from one of the nearby subway stations, and I think that’s the case for most people as well.

  • paulb

    I have a difficult time understanding this whinging about bike racks. Yesterday was the store’s First Day. The First Day. An early opening, customer movement, the POS system, escalators and elevators, safety, employee scheduling, stocking, bus shuttle service, water taxi service–all these things (and that’s just a partial list) had to be coordinated by a mix of seasoned and new employees in a completely new infrastructure. And you (I don’t mean every comment, just a few) are crying because you didn’t have bike racks the moment the store opened its doors early on its first day? No one at Ikea had any problems when bikes were locked to railings. Have you never worked in a busy environment like this?

    What are the words? Get a grip? Get a life? Calm down for one moment? Get over yourself? If there are no bike racks after two weeks to a month, then there will be a reason to ask for an explanation.

  • Larry’s Brother

    NYC City Planning addressed the issue of bike parking in parking lots with the recent zoning text amendment “Commercial & Community Facility Parking Lots” on 11.28.07. This would have required IKEA to put in Class 2 bike parking racks similar to the NYCDOT Cityracks program. If IKEA had a complete foundation prior to 11.28.07, a CPC special permit certified, or CPC authorization referred prior to 11.28.07, then they would not be required to put in bike racks with the parking lot.

  • d

    PaulB, imagine a store opening without enough parking for cars. Would you tell people to wait two months? If someone wants to go spend hundreds of dollars on a new couch at IKEA, it seems like very little to ask for to have a safe place to store one’s bike. How much would a bike rack cost? A few hundred dollars? Plus, a person who doesn’t drive there means that there will be one more space in the already clogged parking lot. In that case, a bike rack would be good for business, giving the store the ability to turn over more customers per hour or day.

    Additionally, as was linked to in a comment above, IKEA promised bike racks. When the attention of opening goes away, will the pressure to live up to this promise go with it? (See the NoVo apartment building and its promises to renovate a nearby park as an example of this.)

    Considering that nearby neighborhoods have large numbers of bike commuters, it’s reasonable to be disappointed that they didn’t install a rack for so much as a single bike. In fact, in light of how much effort was put into new water taxis, shuttle buses, and a park — not to mention how much community opposition there was to this store — how hard would it have been to install a metal rack? It would have gone a long way towards building good relations and would have been great PR and would have set the standard by which all other developments would have been judged.

    Car culture will be changed in this city the day that new buildings open with adequate bike parking so that cycling is not seen as an afterthought but as legitimate an option to getting around as driving or taking the subway.

  • Larry, if you google, you’ll find that a lot of people beat you to the idea of Ikea delivery/installation service.

  • Ian D

    Josh (#18):

    In view of the fact that they actually constructed a whole bunch of waterfront park (in contradiction to what other developers do), I have a hard time complaining about the lack of bike parking.

    It’s great that they did what sounds like a nice job with the park (I’m on my way there after I write this), but remember, they didn’t do it just out of the goodness of their hearts. It was a business decision – they needed the support of (or at least, to control the opposition of) the community board and local elected officials.

    How do they achieve that? “I’ll give you a park if you let me construct this business.” Then the stakeholders decide if it’s a tradeoff that they can live with.

  • I would think a Scandinavian company, of any company, would understand the importance of providing bike parking.

  • paulb


    Your disappointment is noted–stop the presses!!–but it is NOT reasonable. There are spots to lock up a bike until bike racks arrive and there will be plenty of opportunity later to pin the store manager’s ears back if they don’t. Ikea is a clever outfit and they may just surprise you with some very classy new-style bike racks.

  • Result of taking the bike to IKEA via water taxi: BIG NO.

    Nice NY Water Taxi guy: “You know you can’t bring the bike on, right? When people come back, they have loads of packages so there’s no room,” as 15 people, none with large packages, disembark the 80-passenger ferry.

    Me: “Is there any bike parking here, preferably in a secured area?” Guy: …confused… “uh, no.”

    Me: “So instead of going over, getting lunch and doing some shopping, I’ll just go somewhere else.”

    Sure, things are just getting started, but I’ll let them know that I’m disappointed with their shortcomings.

  • gecko


    When Whole Foods on Union Square opened a few years ago, they needed bike racks. I called it in to DOT and they were put in right away.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I sorry but IKEA of all companies should know better. A store in walkable, bikeable Brooklyn should have had bike racks right from the start. This isn’t a store on the New Jersey Turnpike and they should have been sensitive to that.

    Also (and I’m surprised no one else brought this up yet) IKEA of Denmark has started a bike and trailer loaner system to make it easier for people to get bigger items back home via bicycle. Zakkaliciousness of Copenhagen Cycle Chic fame does a good job of describing the system on his other blog, Copenhagenizing. (See http://tinyurl.com/54hwc6)

  • And it is necessary to shop at this store….why?

  • d

    I went there today via water taxi from pier 11 and, if it’s not full, the captain will let you take a bike on the boat. Two bikes were on the one I went on. Don’t expect to get a bike on during the weekend, but off-hours on weekdays you might have a chance, especially if you are only going one way, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, when people aren’t loaded up with their new purchases.

    Regarding bike parking, there are fences and rails, but it’s a crap shoot. Technically, you are not allowed to lock your bike to those railings. There is tons of parking for cars; perhaps they could give one over to bike parking near the entrance to the store so it has the security of many eyes watching it.

    To be honest, IKEA did a great job with the park near the store. The area near the water is landscaped nicely, there’s lots of outdoor seating, wide walkways, and the old cranes are preserved beautifully. If more stores like this figure out ways to reconnect the people to the waterfront, it will be worth it.

  • Re: #28

    The bike and trailer loan system is a wonderful idea (and certainly another reminder of how far behind we are here in promoting cycling as transit), but not without a major drawback, which is having to return the darn thing to IKEA and pick up your old bicyle (that’s two extra trips). I think the more bicycle-friendly approach would be to have a city-wide (or county-wide?) bike share program that included in the inventory some bicycle and trailer set-ups. At the very least, maybe IKEA could have a drop-off point at some major transit hub, and if you initially rode a folding bike that you hauled back in the trailer, you’d be all set.

  • Re: #30

    So, once again, someone who drives a car is fully accommodated, while a cyclist faces a crapshoot: *maybe* (if Venus and Mars are in alignment) you can take your bike on the water taxi and *maybe* there’s a rack or fence you could lock it to.

    This is one reason why more people don’t use bikes for transit and running errands. I find the anger, frustration, and disappointment expressed here completely appropriate.

  • Michael1

    Just to send some positive light on this bicycle issue at Ikea, I went today via the Water Taxi (Saturday evening) and I did see a couple of bicycles leave the ferry. So you can get your bike onto the ferry, they keep it on the side. As for the bike racks, correct me if I’m wrong but a bike rack does exist. I believe it’s adjacent to that Thor Equities/Ikea overflow area. It’s on Beard Street, walk to the north entrance of Erie Basin Park where the sidewalk ends and there should be a rack right on the sidewalk. It’s quite a walk to the main entrance but it’s better than nothing. The traffic itself is another story.

  • mfs

    GAPCo: While the design they did might evoke “Red Hook’s maritime history”- the Ikea development actively destroyed an important part of Red Hook’s maritime present when they bought and filled in the dry dock, and covered it with a parking lot. Those cranes you see were in action no less than three years ago and are not just remnants of the past.

  • steph

    There is a bike rack at Ikea, I saw it yesterday (June 21). If you bike down the Columbia street side (or whatever the street is on the east side of Ikea), there’s a little guard house. If you enter the road just behind the guard house, there’s a path that leads up to the bike rack. (The friendly guards were the ones who pointed it out to me, as well as the unmarked bike path in the parking lot.) It’s on the far side of the parking lot, which is not exactly the closest place, but it is there. It would be nice to have racks closer to the entrance, but maybe there are too many pedestrians there.

    There were a ton of fences by the entrance, and a lot of bikes were locked up to it. No one harassed me about locking my bike up to the fence.

    As for streets congestion, I didn’t actually notice that much, even though there were a ton of cars parked. Maybe this is due to the time that I left (late Saturday afternoon), and the exit that I took (the east side, versus the west which had a lot of buses).

  • d

    Urbanis, I’m not quite sure why you think that IKEA should definitely allow bikes on the ferry to eliminate the “crapshoot” element. I think it’s nice that they occasionally do allow bikes at the captain’s discretion. The ferry is not provided to allow for general transportation, service back and forth from Manhattan, it is provided to get people there to shop. (Although they do not require that you shop there if you want to take the ferry.)

    So, if you bike to the ferry and only intend on shopping at the store, there’s little reason to bring your bike with you. The ferry landing on the IKEA side is steps from the entrance to the store.

    Whether or not there’s a secure bike rack at Pier 11 is another story, but it seems reasonable to bike to the ferry, lock up, take a ride on the ferry, shop, get back on the ferry to Manhattan, and ride home. It also seems reasonable for IKEA to not always allow bikes on the ferry.

  • Davis

    I’m not quite sure why you think that IKEA should definitely allow bikes on the ferry to eliminate the “crapshoot” element.


    What if motorists faced the same dilemma, d? Drive on over to IKEA — maybe we’ll have parking today, or maybe we won’t. It’s up to the store manager’s day-to-day discretion.

    It’s a ridiculous policy borne of the mindset that bicycles are recreational and not part of a city’s transportation network.

    The ferries were negotiated and established as a part of community benefits agreement when the IKEA project was initially approved. The ferries are supposed to serve as an additional transportation link for anyone traveling between Manhattan and Red Hook. The ferries are not exclusively for the use of IKEA shoppers. Cyclists should be accommodated as they are on pretty much all the other ferries in the New York Harbor.

    And if cyclists really can’t be accommodated for some legitimate reason, then the policy should, at least, be consistent from day to day.

  • Michael1
  • bikedude

    The car analogy fails. What if drivers drove to the ferry and expected to be able to take their cars on the ferry? Isn’t it within the company’s right to say, “No, we’d like to make sure there is room for our customers, or even for more people in general who are just going to enjoy their day by foot.” Whether you have a car or a bike, the answer is to park somewhere near the pier and then take the ferry to Red Hook.

    I don’t think anyone saying that the ferries are the exclusive use of IKEA shoppers. In fact, the company has repeatedly said that anyone can use them and that’s a great benefit to the community, especially for people who live in Red Hook and need to get into Manhattan. But even Metro North limits the number of cycles per car and I believe you’re not supposed to take them on at rush hour. People on foot should always get priority over people with bikes. So I don’t think it’s a problem that IKEA limits bikes on the ferry.

    Also, comparing this ferry to other ferries doesn’t work. The Staten Island ferry is huge and can fit hundreds of passengers, and the number of bikes it takes as a percentage of its total available space is small. This is a water taxi, and probably fits no more than 50 or 60 people. Should the boat not allow more passengers on because limited space is taken up by bikes? Seems pretty reasonable that the water taxi lets bikes on when there is room and doesn’t when there isn’t. If I showed up to ride the ferry and was told there was no room, I’d be pretty ticked if I saw three or four bikes being rolled on. As it stands now, they load people first and if there is room for bikes, they let them on at the end. Fair enough.

    The parking AT the store is a totally different issue, Davis, and I think you are conflating that issue with the issue of bikes on the ferry. Of course the store would never be built without enough car parking and it would be nice to think that someone somewhere viewed bike parking as an important part of a community. But to think that a private company has to allow bikes on the ferry at all times, even if they worked something out with the city in exchange for permission to build, seems a bit much for now. Remember, this ferry is FREE even if you aren’t shopping at the store. Aside from the parking issue, I think the ferry as it operates now is very reasonable in terms of its bike policy.

  • Davis

    I disagree.

    It is not reasonable for the ferry to have a bike policy that varies depending on the discretion of whatever captain happens to be running the ship that day.

    In fact, that’s no policy at all.

    It would be more reasonable for the ferry to just ban bikes altogether so, at least, people transporting themselves by bike would know what to expect and could make travel decisions based on a consistent policy.

  • gecko

    Spectacular, spectacular! What Ikea did with piers; really extensive and right across the street from the urban farm. Heard one person mention that it was almost like a museum.

    It probably won’t take alot to get Ikea engaged in a lot of other good local work as it seems that they aim to please.

  • bikedude

    Somehow I think that no one would be very happy if IKEA banned bikes on the ferry and used as their excuse some sort of courtesy to cyclists. “We’re just trying to make it easier for you, so you know to leave your bike at home!” Yeah, that would work.

    No one ever said that the ferry had a definitive “policy” about cyclists. What they do have is a flexible courtesy that goes beyond what you’ll find on city buses. In fact, I’d wager that if you pressed the store or the water taxi service to make an absolute policy on biking so that people could at least make concrete plans, they would come down on the side of banning bikes on board altogether. Be careful what you ask for.

    Again, this is a PRIVATE ferry service offered as a complimentary benefit to customers and the general public. As it stands now, it seems very reasonable: if there’s room, you get on. If there isn’t, you can wait for the next one or you can lock up your bike at the pier and pick it up when you come back. It’s a positive step!

  • bikedude

    Oops, I meant for the quotes to go around “definitive” and not “policy.” What I mean is that I don’t believe they have to have a set in stone policy.

    As an example, look at Metro North’s policy:


    Occupancy Limitations i. On weekdays two (2) bicycles will be permitted per car with a maximum of four (4) bicycles per train. Bicycles shall be placed in the two rear cars of inbound trains or the two front cars of outbound trains unless otherwise directed by train crew. Groups of more than four (4) bicyclists traveling together must make advance arrangements with Metro-North for carriage.

    Sort of open-ended, isn’t it? What if you show up at a station and there are already 4 bikes on the train? (Not a large number considering the number of cars per train.) What you do is hope for the courtesy of a conductor who will judge the situation and, if there’s room, let you on. Otherwise, you wait for the next one. Why? Because MetroNorth is in the business of providing rides for people, not people with bikes. So, even in a case with a defined, written policy, there has to be room for discretion. Seems reasonable.

  • At the risk of keeping this thread alive, I give you NY Water Taxi’s FAQ:

    Can you bring bikes on board?
    Yes. The crew will help you fasten them to the rail on the front deck (they cannot be brought into the interior cabin).

    I found out about that after they turned me away.

  • bikedude

    NY Water taxi has different policies than the taxi that is dedicated to ferrying passengers to IKEA. The idea is that they want to leave room for people coming back to carry their bag full ‘o stuff, so they don’t always want bikes on board. That’s why they leave it up to the crew to make decisions on the spot. Regular rules don’t apply.

  • Yet another reason to ride a folding bike. If you fold it and bag it, the water taxi officials will never need be the wiser.

  • Ray

    Go in a bunch (at least 4 people) and just park in one of the car spaces and lock to each other’s bikes. And then complain bitterly to management once inside about how there’s no place for you to park.

    IF you want, leave someone near the bikes.
    It’s not like they are sanctified spaces.
    Make a stink, but be calm with IKEA and other parkers and explain the situation.


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