‘CitiBike’ rolls out, and Brooklyn Heights continues its fight

The bikes will finally hit the streets today, and already Brooklyn Heights condo owners have declared the so-called “CitiBike” program a disaster.

The plan to bring rental bicycles to city streets and sidewalks in Brownstone Brooklyn is being met with a collective scream from residents who are filing lawsuits, crying injustice, and, in some cases, vandalizing the Citibank-sponsored parking bays that some say are a danger to the public.

“The whole thing is just ridiculous,” said Keith Klein, a resident of 140 Cadman Plaza West, which had racks placed outside its front entrance. “In this particular part of Brooklyn Heights, there are so many parts that would have made more sense.”

Klein wondered why the bikes couldn’t have been placed in Cadman Plaza Park, away from the residence. In mid-May, the building met with a representative of Councilman Steve Levin to complain about the issue, asking why they hadn’t been consulted about the rack placement, even though he claimed residents had been promised they would be kept in the loop.

“We were told that there was extensive community outreach prior to placement of each CitiBike station,” he said in an e-mail. “Fact is, not one person on our Board of Directors or any staff member of our building or building’s management company knew anything about this until the day the racks appeared.”

That seems to have been the city’s mode of operation. Our sister publication, the New York Post, reported this week that the city told community boards not to hold a vote on the CitiBike installations.

To keep the insults rolling, Klein said that the installation wasn’t just unsightly — it was dangerous.

“Our argument about the placement of this installation is that it blocks access to the main door of the building, not just from a cab when you have luggage, or your car when you are unloading shopping bags, but it also blocks access for emergency vehicles,” he said. “This is a critical situation and rather shocking that no one thought it through. It is now necessary to walk all the way to the corner to get through.”

Those who live in Cadman Plaza West aren’t the only Brooklyn Heights residents upset with where the city put the racks.

Residents of 150 Joralemon St., have sued the city over the racks’ placement there, claiming they get in the way during garbage collection.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at jlutz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.