Cobble Hill

VIDEO: Leaders gather in Cobble Hill to call for Community Board approval of Citi Bike expansion

July 11, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
(L-R) City Council Candidate John Quaglione, Community Board 10 member June Johnson and Cobble Hill community leader Daniel Arbeeny. Eagle photo by John Alexander
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District 43 City Council candidate John Quaglione held a press conference at the intersection of Clinton and Congress streets in Cobble Hill on Friday. He was joined by Cobble Hill resident and community leader Daniel Arbeeny and June Johnson, a member of Community Board 10 (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Fort Hamilton).

“We believe Citi Bike is great for our community,” said Quaglione, “as long as it doesn’t take away our parking spaces.” Quaglione stipulated the need for community board approval of Citi Bike expansion, noting that members of a neighborhood know the best places to install the bike racks, which take up valuable parking spaces.

Quaglione wanted to get in front of the Citi Bike issue as the city continues to look to expand the program throughout the five boroughs. The first step, according to Quaglione, is the need for community input before any location is decided upon, and that would require community board approval as to what location would be deemed acceptable for a city bike station to be put in place.

“We’re taking into consideration if we put it on a sidewalk it would have to be an appropriately sized sidewalk so that it doesn’t impede pedestrian traffic, wheelchairs or baby carriages,” said Quaglione. “There are locations in the area that are completely off the radar that would be a nonstarter because the parking in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach is already at such a premium.”

“When the Department of Transportation put up a No-Standing zone on the corner of 91st Street and Colonial Road for example, to improve visibility because of accidents, the loss of that one spot created such an uproar from the neighbors in that surrounding area. And that’s just over one spot. These Citi Bike stations can take up to 10 or 12 spots, the length of 10 cars.”

As a result, Quaglione wants the community board to be involved and have a public hearing process which would be orchestrated by the board or the transportation committee. “You would need to give people the opportunity to come and speak for or against it. You need a process,” Quaglione added.

He suggested a few specific locations that would benefit from Citi Bike racks such as Leif Erikson Park, by the 69th Street Pier where people could park their bikes before boarding the ferry, or take a bike for a ride along the bicycle path that stretches from the pier to Caesar’s Bay. He added, “There are ideal locations and we support the Citi Bike program for getting cars off the road, easing traffic and helping get people around the city in a more healthy way and in a more environmentally friendly way.”

Quaglione’s hope is that community board input would impede putting a Citi Bike station in a heavily residential area or a heavily commercial location. “If you take 10, five or six docking stations, you’re knocking out 50 or 60 more parking spots so the problem just blossoms and becomes completely out of control.”

Johnson said she would be happy if “Citi Bike presented its plans before a community board of 50 members who are appointed by our councilmember. It would first be brought to our committee, which is made up of residents of all ages and from all different backgrounds throughout the community, and then it would be presented to the general public to discuss it. In this way, the community would help decide where the bike racks would be placed.”

Arbeeny, a former member of the Cobble Hill Association, stressed that Citi Bike was necessary and needed, and that they do not want to hinder its growth, but admitted that the challenge is how to balance this with quality of life issues. He said it could take up to two hours to park a car in his neighborhood and that the loss of parking spaces would only exacerbate the problem.

“They came to us in Cobble Hill and said ‘this is what we’re doing, and there was no input,” said Arbeeny. “They did listen to some of the locational suggestions, which was nice, but they didn’t have to do anything. The fact that they can dictate to you the size and number, and that they are going to do it regardless is inappropriate in a community context.”

Peter Bray, the executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) expressed his support for the Citi Bike program and praised the Department of Transportation (DOT) for engaging with the community. He said that when CitiBike was planning where to place their stations they offered the BHA input and consulted with them on the best locations for the bike racks.  

Bray also told the Brooklyn Eagle that DOT approached BHA, Community Board 2 and the Boerum Hill Association with a proposal for a pilot car share program that would require space for individuals to use smart cars such as Car2go and Zipcar for short-term lease. “We live in a changing world,” said Bray. “This program has been implemented in other cities and on the West Coast, and it serves to free up more parking spaces. It’s a trend that may grow over time.”

 


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