Watch this space: City may reserve Park Slope parking spots for car-rentals

Watch this space: City may reserve Park Slope parking spots for car-rentals
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

The city plans to reserve hundreds of on-street parking spots for car-rental companies such as Zipcar and Car2go as part of a two-year program designed to encourage drivers to ditch their own vehicles — and some of them could be in Park Slope.

City transportation czar Polly Trottenberg recently singled out the Brownstone nabe — known as “no-Park Slope” for its lack of parking — as the kind of place where more so-called “car-sharing” services could really make a difference because many households there keep a vehicle parked on the street for only occasional use, but could be convinced to go auto-free if they had the alternative.

“These households might take advantage of a car-share service, freeing up more on-street parking and making life easier for the remaining residents who require a personal vehicle for their livelihoods,” Trottenberg told the Council’s transportation committee on Dec. 12.

The program will give the private businesses access to 300 on-street parking spaces and 300 spots in municipal lots when it kicks off sometime this spring, according to Trottenberg.

Department of Transportation honchos have not worked out many of the specifics, however — including how they will select which companies participate and if they would be required to pay for the amenity.

They also haven’t tapped any specific neighborhoods yet — Park Slope included — and will gauge interest from local officials and civic groups before making a decision, according to Trottenberg.

“I want to see frankly what kind of a response we get, and what kind of interest there is,” she said.

But some Park Slope leaders are already enthusiastic about offering up some of the spaces in their neighborhood — one area transit guru pointed to studies in other cities that found access to the car clubs reduced private-vehicle ownership, and said that will ultimately leave more space for those who have to drive.

“I think all of this makes a lot of sense,” said Eric McClure, chairman of Community Board 6’s Transportation Committee,

Other Slope motorists might be a tougher sell, if history is anything to go by — many were incensed last year when the city extended Citi Bike to the neighborhood and replaced some parking spaces with bike stations, including members of a mob who stormed a community board meeting in September.

But the neighborhood is also home to some car-rental converts already.

Car2Go allows members to pick up and leave its tiny two-door vehicles at any public parking space in the area — if they can find a free spot — and has already persuaded some Slopers to get rid of their regular rides, according to a local leader.

“As alternative means of transportation become more and more attractive, it starts to increase the benefit side of not owning the car, which can be expensive and frustrating in the city,” said Community Board 1’s district manager Craig Hammerman.

Park Slope is also served by industry stalwart Zip Car — which uses dedicated private parking rather than public spots like Car2Go — which has rental cars stationed at a handful of garages around the neighborhood.

German car company BMW tried to launch its Car2go competitor Reach Now in Brooklyn late last year, but had to suspend the service due to problems with its app and delays in vehicle maintenance, according to a statement from the company.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.