Red Hook Houses residents: ‘We’re tired of Citi Bikes and people making decisions for us’

Red Hook Houses residents: ‘We’re tired of Citi Bikes and people making decisions for us’
Community News Group / Lauren Gill

New Citi Bike stations outside the Red Hook Houses are stealing much-needed parking spaces from residents who rely on their cars to get to and from the transit-starved nabe, claim tenant leaders — and it’s just the latest example of the city telling public housing residents what they need instead of listening to what they actually want, they say.

“I don’t see how the stations benefit people who live in public housing,” said Frances Brown, president of the Red Hook East Houses Tenant Association. “We’re tired of all these Citi Bikes and people making decisions for us like we’re little children.”

The Department of Transportation recently installed four stations around the 2,891-unit public housing complex — at W. Ninth and Columbia streets, Lorraine and Columbia streets, Clinton and Centre streets, and Wolcott and Dwight streets — as part of a broader rollout of the blue-bike bays around Community Board 6 over the past month.

The agency held several public workshops during the planning period and met with Brown twice, but she said the pow-wows seemed pointless and she got the impression transportation honchos had already decided where it was placing the docks before they spoke to her.

“When they came to me and spoke to me they had already made up their minds,” she said.

The city has made an effort to get New York City Housing Authority residents on the bikes — tenants only have to pay $5 per month to rent them, versus $15 for other citizens.

Meanwhile, Red Hook Houses residents are only renting out 47 of the 116 spaces in the complex’s private parking lot, which costs $60–$75 a year, according to a New York City Housing Authority spokeswoman.

But another tenant leader says there is a dearth of free parking options for the 98 percent of residents who she claims own cars, and the few who cycle already own their own bikes.

“We don’t have enough space to park as is,” said Red Hook West Houses Tenant Association president Lillie Marshall, who says the city didn’t even bother to engage her in the discussion. “People in the community have cars and their children have bikes so what are we going to do with all these bikes? Nobody is renting these bikes, they’re just parked there.”

Mayor DeBlasio also singled out the Red Hook Houses residents as the lucky recipients of a new neighborhood ferry stop and his forthcoming streetcar.

A Department of Transportation spokeswoman refused to answer specific questions about its meetings — or lack thereof — with Red Hook Houses leaders, saying only that it takes community input seriously and into consideration when deciding on rack locations.

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