DOT, where’s my car? Greenpointer parks vehicle, returns to find new Citi Bike dock

DOT, where’s my car? Greenpointer parks vehicle, returns to find new Citi Bike dock
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It’s a dock-out!

A Greenpoint man parked his car on a neighborhood street last Thursday morning, and returned seven hours later only to find a new Citi Bike station in its place.

At first the guy thought it was a prank — but his sense of humor disappeared when he had to spend almost an hour scrambling to track down his vanished vehicle.

“My first impression was I thought it was really funny, like a hidden camera kind of thing,” said Guilherme Gonclaves, who works as a gardener in Manhattan’s Central Park.

Gonclaves said he left his cherished Mazda 3 parked at Huron and Franklin streets the night before, and that it was still there at 6 am as he left for his job across the river.

But when he came back around 1:30 pm to grab the car so he could pick up his wife and daughter from a school function, there was a shiny new bike-rental rack where he had left it, and his wheels were nowhere to be found.

When Ashton Kutcher didn’t pop out to tell him he had been “punk’d,” Gonclaves frantically called 911, 311, and a local towing company — assuming someone had hauled his auto away to parts unknown — then spent around 45 minutes trying in vain to convince police and operators to help him locate his missing motorcar.

Eventually, a nearby homeowner suggested Gonclaves walk around to see if the rack installers had just towed it elsewhere, and he finally breathed a sigh of relief when he found it parked further down Huron Street at West Street.

Gonclaves ultimately lost only a tiny part of his day to the vanishing act, but says he is still a little miffed at Citi Bike and the Department of Transportation, who he claims failed to warn residents not to park at that particular corner and did not leave any indication of where it had relocated his ride once he did.

“It’s not like they took it far away,” he said. “It’s that they didn’t tell me anything.”

A Citi Bike spokeswoman said the company did put up “no parking” signs three days prior to installing the new rack — and provided this paper with photographic evidence — and that if Goncalves had dialed the right number, he would have swiftly relocated his missing Mazda.

“If the resident had called either their local police precinct or our customer service center both would have been able to provide information on where his car was relocated to,” said Dani Simons of Citi Bike operator NYC Bike Share.

Gonclaves said he still loves cycling as much as the next guy and recognizes the importance of accommodating cyclists, but he is now beginning to understand the age-old animosity between two-wheeled and four-wheeled commuters. The large and prolific blue bike-racks — 20 have arrived in Greenpoint since August — are swallowing up precious street space previously reserved for cars, he said.

“I love bikes, but because I have a car, I hate the bikes now,” he said.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.