Bad News: Forest City Breaks Bike Parking Vow; Good News: Less Car Parking

The Atlantic Yards site may still have a giant surface parking lot at one end, but it will hold half as many cars as previously stated. Unfortunately, promised indoor bike parking has been put off until an unspecified future date. Photosimulation: ## Heights Neighborhood Development Council/Jonathan Barkey##

When Brooklyn’s Barclays Center opens with a Jay-Z concert this September, it will be one of the most transit-accessible arenas in the United States. But as Streetsblog has noted before, the transportation planning for the stadium is excessively car-oriented. Developer Forest City Ratner had been planning to build an 1,100-space surface parking lot, marring the pedestrian environment and inducing more driving to the stadium. As opening day nears, there’s good news and bad when it comes to parking.

The bad news first: Forest City no longer plans to keep its much-touted promise to build a staffed indoor bike parking facility in time for the arena opening. Instead, for the foreseeable future, the bike parking will consist of plain outdoor bike racks.

In the December 2009 Atlantic Yards Amended Memorandum of Environmental Concerns, Forest City promised to implement a number of measures “prior to the opening of the arena” to encourage people to leave their cars at home when traveling to the Barclays Center. One of the commitments the developer made was to “provide any ticketholder traveling to the arena by bicycle with free indoor bicycle storage in a secure, manned facility designed to accommodate at least 400 bicycles on the arena block.”

That bike parking, Streetsblog has learned, won’t be available for opening day or anything close to it. Arana Hankin, the director of the Atlantic Yards project for Empire State Development, said in an e-mail that while there will still be room for 400 bikes at the arena, it will be provided via outdoor bike racks for the foreseeable future. The bike parking will be indoors once the project’s “Building 3,” located at the northwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Dean Street, is complete, at which point it will be located in the basement, Hankin said.

There’s currently no public timeline for the construction of Building 3, and Hankin didn’t respond to a Streetsblog inquiry about when the building might be complete. Right now, construction is only scheduled for one non-arena building, at the corner of Flatbush and Dean.

With the larger Atlantic Yards project stalled, it’s impossible to say when the promised bike parking will be provided, except to say not any time soon.

The good news is that the 1,100 motor vehicle parking spaces have been cut in half, to less than 550. As first reported in the Post and Atlantic Yards Report, Empire State Development CEO Ken Adams delivered the update at a meeting with Atlantic Yards stakeholders on Wednesday.

The reduction comes in part because fitting 1,100 spaces on the given site would have required the use of hydraulic stackers, which could have greatly slowed parking lot operations. The smaller amount of parking can be provided on the surface alone. Fewer parking spaces will mean fewer cars on the road and more people taking transit, walking, or cycling to the game, especially once fans grow accustomed to the difficulty of driving to the arena. The urban design implications of filling a whole city block with parking, however, remain essentially unchanged.

The people who run the Barclays Center, to their credit, are trying to dissuade arena-goers from driving with the transportation section of the arena website. Clicking on the home page “transportation” link sends you to the public transit directions. Those who click on the “parking” link get just 13 words of instruction: “Parking at Barclays Center is very limited. We strongly recommend using public transportation.”

  • Wants to be a Nets Biker

    Well thanks to Ratner, then I will put off seeing the Nets until that bike parking is done.  And I will encourage my NBA friends to do the same.  Ridiculous.  Just make it happen.

  • Mike

    The outdoor-ness of the bike parking isn’t news. That was in the pavement plan as presented last fall.

  • Anonymous

    Tell Ratner to “Go Dutch” on the bike parking design.  Create a nice, gently sloped ramp to get to the bikes.

    As for the reduction in car parking, I assume these guys saw what parking lot bankruptcies at Yankee Stadium and realized their error.  Most Westchester fans of the Yankees take MetroNorth because it is so CALM AND EASY.  

    With the huge LIRR station under the Barclay’s Center, Long Island residents will quickly come to the same realization.  And then they’ll ask, “why don’t the Islanders move here so I can take a train to their games, too?”

  • Why can’t they keep their promise with a big tent and French barriers around the bike parking area?  It can still be staffed and they could probably get away with charging one or two dollars per bike during events.  Most cyclists would gladly pay for peace of mind while they’re inside the arena for a game or a concert.

    That’s probably not the only option, but it seems like there’s some solution between completely unmanned outdoor bike parking on the one hand and waiting years for a giant construction project to be finished on the other.

  • chuck

    Is the outdoor bike parking going to be in the same lot as the car parking? And that lot, I believe, is going to be fenced off and staffed? 

    Should we push FCR to put the bike parking inside the lot so it can received the same (limited) security as the cars?


  • Mark Walker

    At least it’s a parking lot, as opposed to a garage. Lots are easier to repurpose. This one might become a nice outdoor market someday, or affordable housing, or something useful.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Is the outdoor bike parking going to be in the same lot as the car parking? And that lot, I believe, is going to be fenced off and staffed?”

    A good question.  If you are parked there, the thieves know you won’t be coming out until the end of the game.  I could see this arena being one of those places you never, ever bike to, like the bike racks at the Brooklyn Public Library.  Report a bike theft there, and the police just laugh at you for being an idiot (or did some years ago when it happened to my kid).

  • Larry Littlefield

    By the way, what’s with the color scheme?  The adobe toilet?

  • Danny G

    You can easily staff outdoor bike parking. It’s done in places as close to home as Prospect Park. If they’re smart, they’ll figure out bike valet.

  • Guest

    You cant mar a pedestrian environment that doesn’t exist. Those areas were basically unwalkable for a long time before the stadium, or it’s theoretical parking lots, were on the drawing board. (I’m talking east of 6th ave on Atlantic)

  • Anonymous

    Bait and Switch.
    When does “misinformation” turn into deliberate fraud?

  • vnm

    What HamTech87 said. That is exactly right.

  • The reduction in the parking lot is not accompanied by residential permit parking, however, which definitely dismayed people at the meeting Wednesday. In the early days, at least, there should be a lot of competition for on-street spaces.

  • Anonymous

    Bike Valet is even closer to Ratner than Prospect Park. 
    The Park Slope Food Coop valet parking is every Sunday afternoon and evening. 
    Union Street ran out of bike parking spots between 6th and 7th Aves, and the Coop Valet Parking covers the extra demand.

    Setting up a secure bike valet zone at Ratner’s Center during events would need 4-5 staff, a folding table or two, maybe a 10’x10′ tent, about $300 worth of bi-pod bike racks, and whatever fencing/barricade tape that is needed to created a parking cage.  Materials probably cost about what one car parking spot costs to build.  Valet parking staffing needs only 5 more people than they use for any event at the Center, and Ratner has been promising the community more and more jobs connected to the Center.  So here are 5 more temporary/part-time low paying jobs they can provide.

    Ratner should stop prevaricating and simply make valet bike part of the program, NOW!

  • Eric McClure

    The planned location for bike parking will be much closer to the arena than the surface parking lot for cars, essentially right next to it (and half a block from the 78th Precinct headquarters), while the surface parking lot will be another long block and a half away, on Dean between Carlton and Vanderbilt.  But this is just another in a long, long list of broken Atlantic Yards promises.

    As for @abb249055208c7af4d35568e422dfd63:disqus ‘s misinformation, the areas in questions — Dean Street, 6th Avenue, Carlton Avenue, Vanderbilt Avenue — have always been highly walkable.  Crossing Atlantic is horrible, but that’s only one border of the arena site.

  • Jobs, Hoops, Hosing You

    The bike parking was virtually the only concession Brownstone Brooklyn successfully wrung out of Jim Stuckey-era Forest City Ratner. Oh well.

    I wonder how Bertha Lewis is doing these days.

  • Not quite clear whether the outdoor bike racks will be secured, but Forest City Ratner consultant Sam Schwartz promised last June that the bike facility would “always be secured during the arena events,” with an operator.

  • Cberthet

    Mark walker an underground garage would have been preferable. In a city where the real estate is so expensive, it is a disgrace to sprawl and not build vertical, affordable housing for example. 

  • Danny G

    @2b7db7d833c6fe2cd02ad042694e30ac:disqus A big underground garage would be okay. Having a temporary surface lot while waiting a few years for city planning to remove parking minimums, and then building affordable housing with no parking might be even better.


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