DOT apologizes for surprise Boerum Hill Citi Bike racks, but still won’t move them

Hub snub! Boerum Hill residents jilted by surprise Citi Bike station
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

We made our bed — and now you have to bike in it!

The Department of Transportation messed up by not consulting Boerum Hill residents about where to install new Citi Bike stations in their neighborhood, officials admitted on Tuesday, but they said the agency has no plans to take locals’ advice now by relocating the hated docks to sites they’d prefer, as it could just make things worse.

“There is a challenge to moving stations around,” said agency spokesman John Frost. “The station that’s on the ground right now, people know what they don’t like about it, but don’t know what they don’t like about the hypothetical one that doesn’t exist yet.”

The city quietly rolled out five of the bike-rental berths in the nabe over the past month, augmenting the ones it added in 2013 to Community Board 2’s district — which encompasses Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Downtown, and Fort Greene — and were also met with protests.

The agency held public workshops and consulted locals about the locations back then, but this time around it made the unorthodox move of going straight to the board’s district manager and asking only him which sites he thought the community would prefer — enraging residents who say it is just typical of the way officials so often ignore the tiny neighborhood.

“A great deal of space and time and frustration has been spent on these new locations dropped miraculously into Boerum Hill without any process,” said committee member Bill Harris. “For parts of Community Board 2 below Atlantic Avenue, we’re sort of like the red-headed stepchildren.”

Following a presentation by a Citi Bike rep that Harris characterized as “glib salesmen’s talk,” a transportation honcho said the agency typically doesn’t bring smaller rollouts to the community for consultation, but acknowledged the lack of outreach was a mistake and promised to consult the committee in the future.

“There has been some miscommunication and some lapses here on DOT’s part so we have to own that a little bit,” said Borough Planner Abigail Ikner at Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee meeting.

The majority of the committee members said they support Citi Bike, but they are sick of losing parking spaces within a community board that typically votes in favor of bike infrastructure over car storage. Four of the five new racks took the place of parking on Boerum Hill streets, where they say space is already at a premium since Downtown workers often nab free spots.

“I support the Citi Bike program but it has to lie with the rest of the community and the rest of the community is losing parking,” said Boerum Hill resident Sidney Meyer.

Members suggested the city move one recently installed dock on the pavement of narrow Dean and Hoyt streets to the wide sidewalk outside PS 261 on Pacific Street between Smith and Hoyt streets.

Ikner promised she would talk to Citi Bike officials about the alternative site, but claimed stations outside of schools are often troublesome — though didn’t expand on why.

The city installed the surprise Boerum Hill docks around the same time it launched the program in neighboring Community Board 6 — which includes Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook. Those were presented to and approved by that panel last year, but that has hardly stopped discontent there.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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