By COLlive reporter
Many in the Crown Heights community have expressed concern and dismay about the installation this week of many CitiBike racks on main streets around the neighborhood.
Rabbi Chanina Sperlin, Executive VP For Governmental Affairs of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, told COLlive.com that the Community Council has been “bombarded with calls from upset residents about the mass proliferation of new CitiBike stands that has swarmed over Crown Heights over the past few days.”
Sperlin relates that he and Rabbi Eli Cohen, Executive Director of the CHJCC have been in contact with Borough Commissioner Keith Bray in an attempt to have at least some of them removed.
He says they have also been in contact with Mayor Eric Adams‘ office to express the concern of the community, noting that the community was not consulted on these actions.
Rabbi Eli Cohen said that community representatives met with officials only a month or two ago and expressed concerns about the bunching of CitiBike stands in proximity to Kingston Avenue, in close proximity to each other, and the disruption to the lives of residents and visitors that these stands have caused.
Cohen says that the representatives were told that the issue would be looked into, however, they did not receive any follow-up response.
“Not only did we not receive a response with the results of that investigation but, suddenly without adequate warning, another ten or twelve stands have been placed in a small geographic area without any consultation with merchants, families, or organizations that understand the nuances of life in a community,” Eli Cohen said.
“Of particular concern are the additional six locations that have been set up in close proximity to the main shopping area on Kingston Avenue. We demand the immediate removal of these new stands and that a proper process be set up to study and evaluate the effects of this change on the community.”
Aside from many residents being upset about the loss of many parking spots in prime locations throughout the neighborhood, Sperlin said that Kingston Avenue merchants are greatly affected by these new bike racks, as they reduce convenience for the parents of young families who are their main customers.
This is in addition to the “severe effects of the pandemic on shopping trends and the move to online shopping rather than in small retail stores. These retailers depend on maintaining some modicum of convenience for their customers in order to maintain their businesses. The placement of these stands on and around the main retail shopping street of the neighborhood with its Religious goods stores, kosher food, and other unique establishments places yet another impediment to shoppers coming to the neighborhood.”
“Most of these shoppers are either families with several small children for who biking or public transportation is not an option and many who live in areas of East Flatbush and North Crown Heights which are also not reachable by public transportation. By so drastically limiting parking on and around this retail corridor with the loss of over 50 parking places in a small area, the result will be not moving people out of their cars, but sending them to other neighborhoods where parking is more convenient.”
Cohen noted that Crown Heights already has a double parking and traffic movement crisis on Kingston Avenue. “The added congestion from the stands will only add to this problem creating a more dangerous environment for pedestrians, and especially the high percentage of young children,” he said.
Sperlin says the Commissioner has reached out after hearing these concerns. “He said he will be looking into the matter and will hopefully have some answers for us by the beginning of next week,” he said.
The new citibike locations in Crown Heights contribute to the gentrification of Brooklyn. The @NYC_DOT collected requests, but there was no outreach on where the locations will actually be, and no communication with the community board on the proposed locations (1).
— Yaacov Behrman (@ChabadLubavitch) February 9, 2023