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Citi Bike

Friday’s Headlines: Closing the Bike Share Black Hole Edition

Council Member Lincoln Restler has negotiated with local religious leaders to add Citi Bike docks to south Williamsburg. Plus other news.

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman|

Here, an Orthodox man takes out a Citi Bike. Inset, the red zone is the ever smaller hole in the Orthodox part of Williamsburg.

The so-called "Hasid Hole" has been shrunk!

Freshman lawmaker Council Member Lincoln Restler succeeded where predecessor Steve Levin failed, and has successfully negotiated with local religious leaders to add Citi Bike docks to south Williamsburg, as you can see by comparing the two maps below:

The map on the left reflects Citi Bike last year. The map on the right is the current coverage. (The green zone is the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is not a public area).

Journalists and Citi Bike users have noticed the gaping hole in the network since even before Citi Bike went online (as this 2012 Wall Street Journal shows). The Daily News referred to it as the "Black hat black hole" in 2013, a reference to headwear favored by the neighborhood's ultra-Orthodox. The story reported that the neighborhood's Hasidic Jews "have opposed at every turn the Bloomberg Administration’s efforts to increase cycling," which included forcing the Department of Transportation to remove a painted bike lane on Bedford Avenue in 2010.

Many Hasidic Jews use Citi Bike, of course, but leaders of the religious sect have often complained that bike riding in general, and the proliferation of Citi Bike specifically, have brought immodest riders to the tight-knit neighborhood — or as Miser put it on Reddit, "sexy ass hipster girls on bikes."

My 1997 "classic."

"I’m an avid Citi Biker, having taken over 4,000 rides," Restler said. "It has been a priority to expand Citi Bike access across our Council district. I am thrilled that DOT and South Williamsburg community leaders were willing to work together with our office to expand Citi Bike docks across the community."

In all, it appears that Restler's efforts have led to the installation of a half-dozen or so docks, leaving just a small hole that would all but disappear with just one more dock.

My interest in free access to bikes began long before Citi Bike was but a glint in Janette Sadik-Khan's eye. Back in 1997 (yes, in the previous century), I wrote a column for the New York Post about a similar religious effort to block bike lanes — in this case, through Borough Park.

At the time, then-Community Board 12 Transportation Committee Chairman Morton Pupko told me that having people bike through the neighborhood was like "having an X-rated movie theater on the block." Then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani capitulated to the powerful voting bloc.

Of course, that's all ancient history, right? Well, we'll see. As Citi Bike expands into southern portions of Brooklyn, is a new "Black hat black hole" forming?

Check out the map below. It's interesting how there are no Citi Bike docks in Borough Park yet. True, that portion of Brooklyn — and the rest of southern and southeastern Brooklyn, frankly — wasn't slated to get Citi Bike when the system expansion was announced in 2019.

Still, I'll be keeping an eye on it — because who better than me to put on my skimpiest shorts and ride topless through Borough Park?

Curious how there are no Citi Bike docks in Borough Park yet.Map: Citi Bike

In other news:

  • Unfare: MTA workers were so upset about a subway attack on one of their own slowed down service for tens of thousands of other labor comrades with a job action. (NY Times, amNY, Gothamist, The City)
  • Gothamist did a deep dive on residential parking permits, amid some drivers' concerns that the Upper East and Upper West sides will become de facto parking lots once congestion pricing starts. We think the outlet overstated the likelihood that car commuters will seek to store their cars in neighborhoods that they already know are impossible to park in, but we'll obviously be covering this on the ground when congestion pricing begins.
  • The MTA is obligated by law to hold a hearing whenever it wants to raise a toll, which is exactly what it did last night with the congestion pricing toll, which is no longer subject to any public approval. Of course, the Post is convinced that driver entitlement is still a story. FDNY firefighters will protest at this morning's second round (why firefighters would seek to maintain congestion is a mystery to us, so we guess the mostly suburban workforce has other motivations for objecting to paying a toll to drive to work).
  • The worker-owned NY Groove makes its debut in the Streetsblog headlines with a fun story about weird astrology-themed ads in the subway.
  • The Times looked at a growing controversy over converting part of a small park along Eastern Parkway into a skatepark funded partly by Tony Hawk. Like prior coverage in other outlets, the Paper of Record missed the point: Mayor Adams is pushing this project, which is literally a proposal by outsiders to that community with no public discussion, even as he complained that "outsiders" were foisting a bike boulevard on the very same community ... that had had two years of prior discussion.
  • Like Streetsblog, the Times covered the new public charging hubs for delivery workers. There are only five ... and they're only a six-month pilot.
O'Neal Ellerbe checks out his award.Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
  • Finally, our friends at our sister organization, Open Plans, honored the four winners of its Public Space Awards — Corona Plaza, the Flatbush Nostrand Junction BID, North Brooklyn Safe Streets Organizers & North Brooklyn Parks Alliance and the Department of Transportation's Summer Streets (which expanded to all the boroughs last year!) — at a celebration on Thursday night. Those winners had been previously announced, but attendees learned that the Skate Everything School had won the public vote for hosting skateboarding "classes" on open streets all over town. Founder O'Neal Ellerbe told me that his program is "bigger than skateboarding. It's about kids who want to try something new and, for me, bringing everyone together." Spoken like a true Public Space Award winner.
  • And speaking of company business, here's some sad personnel news from veteran Streetsblogger Julianne Cuba:
  • Of course, every cloud has a silver lining: Check out how you could be the lucky reporter to replace Cuba.

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