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Bike Corral Critics Petition to Get Parking Spot Back

Longtime residents call bike racks part of a gentrification trend that feels "more like a takeover than a partnership."

 

Update: Jan. 22, 5 p.m.: The Transportation Committee of Community Board 8 will be discussing the bike corral tonight, Tuesday, January 22 at 7pm at CNR-Center Light Healthcare Center (727 Classon Avenue, between Park Place and Prospect Place).

Update: Jan. 16, 10:38 a.m.: A petition has been started in support of the bike corral and is available at Little Zelda, 728 Franklin Ave. bet. Park and Sterling. Organizers say signing in person is best, but for those who can't get over there, they can sign an online petition. Questions can be sent to littlezelda.bk@gmail.com.

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Just five weeks after innovative on-street bike racks were installed on Franklin Avenue, two area residents have launched a petition campaign has been launched to get it removed.

The DOT installed the “bike corral” in front of Little Zelda on Franklin Avenue between Park and Sterling places in late November. The corral replaces one parking space with eight bike spaces and two large planters.

The city’s bike-friendly Department of Transportation has installed at least nine bike corrals since 2011 including four in Brooklyn. Franklin Avenue’s corral could have the distinction of becoming the first to be removed.

Constance Nugent-Miller, whose family has lived in the neighborhood for two generations, started the petition with Karen Granville, who lives a few doors down from Little Zelda. Currently the petition has “about 224” signatures, Nugent-Miller said.

Nugent-Miller says the racks can be moved to the sidewalk and that the spot is needed for cars—especially since the B48 has returned after a two-year hiatus last week, eating up several more spots on the congested strip.

Nugent-Miller, whose family has lived in the neighborhood for two generations, said the dispute over the bike corral is about more than just a parking space.

“This is way beyond just a bike rack,” she said in an e-mail. “There are so many more subterranean issues at play here.”

Nugent-Miller, who lives on St. John's place between Franklin and Bedford and owns a second building on Bedford near Park Place, said the corral has “divided Franklin Avenue merchants” and “awakened longtime residents” who feel the racks were imposed upon by the area’s newer merchants and residents.

“I live in that community no one ever spoke to me,” Granville said at a Community Board 8 meeting last week.

“A lot of the residents feel that gentrification is more of a takeover than partnership,” Nugent-Miller agreed following the meeting.

But Kate Blumm, who opened Little Zelda with her husband last year, said the decision to install the corral came with unanimous support from the board’s Transportation Committee and overwhelming support by the full board.

Blumm, who with husband and Zelda co-owner Michael De Zayas, collected over 200 signatures in support during the application period, said the racks were approved by the Transporation Committee after a presentation by the DOT and much discussion and consideration of the issues, including the loss of the parking spot.

Blumm argues that the corral makes the street “neater” since there will be fewer bikes chained to lampposts, that the planters will make it greener, and that it offers eight times as many parking spots for potential customers as a single car parking place would.

She added that “it would have been expedient for the petition-filers to participate in that discussion instead of airing concerns after the corral was installed,” but Nugent-Miller and Granville say they would have been glad to, if only they had known about them in advance.

Those interested in signing the petition should e-mail Nugent-Miller at cnugentmiller@yahoo.com.

The Truthier January 15, 2013 at 07:32 PM
I own a building so I pay property taxes. Many cyclists also own cars. We all pay sales tax and income tax. Gas taxes and registration fees barely cover half of all road costs. Do bus riders not have a right to bus stops because they don't own cars? Driving is highly subsidized. Much more so than cycling.
Rob Witherwax January 15, 2013 at 07:43 PM
The Transportation Committee of Community Board 8 will be discussing this topic at our next meeting: Tuesday, January 22 at 7pm at CNR-Center Light Healthcare Center (727 Classon Avenue, between Park Place and Prospect Place). We hope to see you there.
urbanmorphology January 15, 2013 at 07:45 PM
I am happy to see the bike corral installed. This is better than "eyes on the street"- it achieves more than perceived security. I believe it is a sign of the times that messages beyond the bikes, cars, foot traffic, and commerce. Cities evolve and change! When we live in a place for a while we often feel ownership and belonging. Local residents can forget that everyone has the right to the city. This controversy or "dialogue" is productive to the health our city and its caring residents- long time or newcomer. It wouldn't be a diverse neighborhood it is if everyone agreed. But this is not New Yorkcentric phenomenon. Many American cities are rethinking transportation, energy, and health agendas. The time is now. Let's not go backwards and hug our beloved cars. Let's be open to the BIGGER PICTURE and potential of our community.
Resident January 15, 2013 at 08:08 PM
If I get a petition going to remove a car parking space in the district, will CB8 discuss it at an upcoming meeting?
RP January 15, 2013 at 08:37 PM
I cannot believe all this fuss over ONE PARKING SPACE. I mean, really. This says more about the deeper seeded resentment over gentrification than anything else. And if that is the case, we are all in trouble. Sad.
PWB January 15, 2013 at 09:26 PM
@Truth & Jody. I hear what you are saying, but you miss the point of these changes. You were pioneers of a sort who were willing to use bikes as transportation in the "Wild West" days. That's great, I commend you for it, but this isn't about you. It is about changing the culture so that cars are relied upon less and alternative transportation, including bikes more. You two, and me for that matter, will get on our bikes and go for it without these changes, but the vast vast majority of people are two inexperienced and anxious to use their bikes as a regular means of transportation. But we need them to. We need them to do so to lower carbon emissions, to improve their overall health and most importantly (from a functioning city perspective), because we have run out of road space while our population continues to grow. That means we need to condense traffic to carry more people on the same road acreage and that translates primarily into moving away from cars and towards mass transit and bikes. So how do you get people who are inexperienced and anxious about biking to bike? You make it safe, give them protected lanes, give them easy places to park their bikes, identify/promote direct linkages between the use of their bikes and the performance of a needed task - going to work, going to school, going shopping. And if that costs a parking space or 2 that is ok. Why? Because we need to discourage short-distance car usage. From a policy/planning perspective its a win/win
PWB January 15, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Yes bicyclists have the same rights as drivers. That is New York State law. You pay those fees because your car is heavy and dirty and requires a very expensive infrastructure to be maintained so that you can use it. That doesn't give you any more rights than any one else. Your car is actually a negative thing. It costs the City a lot of money to maintain the infrastructure for your vehicle; cars cause significant personal injury and property damage when used incorrectly; it generates pollution that not only may contribute to global climate change, but on a more immediate basis is a primary reason for the high rates of asthma in this city. It takes up too much space on the road causing congestion, slowing down commerce, emergency vehicle response and mass transit. The list can go on. The average trip by a New Yorker is less than 3 miles. If you really are a biker, then 3 miles is easy for you. You don't need to use a car. Even if you aren't a biker, 3 miles is not difficult. It takes up much less space, is a healthy alternative, much more affordable, etc. The real question is that given all the societal harms caused by cars, do you really think you have the same rights as bikers?
Resident January 15, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Wrong. Parking spots are for vehicles. And bicycles are vehicles.
Kate January 16, 2013 at 01:25 AM
Hi Rob (and everyone)-- just wanted to let you know that although we couldn't come to the CHCA meeting tonight, we will be at the committee meeting next week to answer questions (if we can) and contribute to the conversation. Hope to see everyone there! -- Kate and Michael from Little Zelda
Joanna Smith January 16, 2013 at 01:40 AM
Why is Patch taking a political stance and encouraging people to sign this anti-environmental petition? So much for fair & balanced, never mind common sense.
Sally P. January 16, 2013 at 03:18 AM
Agree. Patch shouldn't include the email unless it is including information for supporters of this wonderful addition to the street. Amy, how can I sign or lend my support to Little Zelda? And please update the article with the info.
Chris O January 16, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Actually, this is a city street maintained by the NYC DOT. Most of its funding comes from tax revenue, not registration fees. These are taxes that all people pay, regardless of their mode of transportation. So yes, everyone should have the same right to the street - drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. We have to learn to share the space we have. And yes, by law, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers.
Gary January 16, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Sorry, resident. There's no guarantee of 200 square feet per spot times however many parking spaces for the free use of car owners in a densely populated city with limited, expensive real estate. NYC DOT has gone through an appropriate process with feedback from the community board and can change this publicly owned property for the best use.
Resident January 16, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Gary, I agree with you. That's my point. Parking spaces are not "for cars." They are for vehicles, and bikes are vehicles. They belong in on-street spaces like any other vehicle. I support more bike corrals like this one.
Amy Sara Clark January 16, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Joanna and Sally, Thanks for your comments. Whenever I write I write a story about a petition, I always let people know how to sign it. When I wrote this story, I was unaware of a petition in support of the corral. However, this morning I was told about it, and I will add it to the story now. -Amy
Kate January 16, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Hi all-- you can show your support for the corral by signing our petition at the shop, emailing littlezelda.bk@gmail.com, or going to http://www.thepetitionsite.com/204/576/745/support-the-bike-corral-on-franklin-avenue/. Thank you for your support to help make Franklin cleaner, greener, to give an option to bicycle riders who want to keep the sidewalk clear! -- Kate from Little Zelda
Kate January 16, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Also: the absolute BEST way to show your support right now is to sign the paper petition at Little Zelda, so please stop by when you can! Thank you!
Greg todd January 16, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Car owners need to understand the immense cost every car adds to the residents of our community: 80% of the gas consumed in this country is for transportation. Bikes consume no gas, only cars and trucks. Gas use is a chief cause of climate change. Superstorm Sandy alone will probably cost us over $100 billion when all is said and done and the majority of residents polled think that climate change contributed to the severity of Sandy. Connecting the dots is critical. It's not just about the rights of new residents versus the perogatives of older residents. It's about the huge costs associated with car use. And I'm not even talking about the number of pedestrians killed by cars, versus the number killed by bikes, the congestion to our streets caused by double parked cars versus double parked bikes (?!?!), etc.
urbanmorphology January 16, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Fantastic! Good idea. I'm signing and passing the word around my block to weigh in as well. And now I'm even more motivated to promote local businesses in this part of the neighborhood. Thank you for your commitment to greening New York.
Erika January 16, 2013 at 07:09 PM
"According to the 2000 Census, the car ownership rate in this City Council district is just 33 percent, far below the citywide rate of about 46 percent. While the neighborhood may be different today than it was in 2000, these car ownership rates haven’t changed much. Meanwhile, the citywide household bike ownership rate is 54 percent."
River Song January 17, 2013 at 10:21 PM
All you have to do is look around to see that the number of bikers in Brooklyn has increased dramatically over the last few years. This ends up having a positive impact on the number of cars on the road (aka traffic), eases up the strain on our increasingly packed public transportation system, and brings in business from outside of the immediate area to local merchants. So, it only seems smart and natural that the city and businesses alike would try to think of ways to accommodate something for which there is an increased need: legal bike parking. Since there are more bikers than drivers in this particular area, but so few places to legally lock up your bike, the corral is a great way of meeting one of the many needs that exists in our community. It may not address everyone's needs and wishes, but what does? Clearly this corral represents more than the loss of a single parking spot to the people behind the petition to have it removed. It strikes me as being very petty that they have resorted to taking their issues out on those of us that have also invested in or own property in the area, shop on Franklin, and support progressive initiatives, just because we haven't lived in the neighborhood long enough for their liking (two whole generations!). There is more than one way to be a good neighbor and love your community.
l January 20, 2013 at 01:35 PM
People don't park illegally in bus stops on purpose. It is usually a mistake as it pretty much guarantees a $250 ticket. J. Flores should just park their car in the bus stop if they think this is so commonly done and then does not need to be worried about this one parking space.
BRADY January 20, 2013 at 03:26 PM
If most of the people who live here, old and new, do not own cars ,why are there so many cars parked in the neighborhood .the curbsides should be at least half empty
BRADY January 20, 2013 at 03:30 PM
2000 census, you know it's now 2013
BRADY January 20, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Greg, a majority of residents polled? facts, not opinion polls are needed,you know what they say about opinions don't you
Bill lombard January 20, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I just moved from Wisconsin, I'm a self declared artist and street performer. My parents are paying my 2800 dollar a month rent so I can perpetually stay in my Peter Pan stage . All long time residents, we are cooler than you, we need our bicycles to flagerantly violate traffic laws and blast through red lights with no regard for you. Now that I'm a resident it's my neighborhood. So please move away as I price you out as I buy my 12 dollar fair trade cappuccino.
Jerome January 20, 2013 at 09:14 PM
I am a longtime resident (26 years) and do not have enough money to own a car. I rely on my bicycle to save money on the subway and to get to a job that's hard to get to. I like bike corrals like this.
Rob Witherwax January 22, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Don't forget: this issue will be addressed at tonight's CB8 Transportation meeting, 7PM at CNR (727 Classon Ave).
Franklin Shopper! January 22, 2013 at 10:42 PM
This is silly. How many meetings is the board going to have over something they approved and worked with the community to install a long time ago. I'm sorry that people don't like this, but the time to speak up was at one of the other two public meetings. While I appreciate the board giving people the chance to speak about this it is a tad ridiculous to eliminate eight parking spaces over fears of gentrification! I'm not rich and guess what? I can't afford a car!!!
Linnea August March 29, 2013 at 05:16 PM
@tracy applewhite, whether you think bicyclists should ride on the sidewalk or not doesn't really matter. It is illegal for bicycles to be ridden on the sidewalk, and the NYPD enforces this rule (much more than they enforce cars speeding, which actually does kill people.)

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