Welcome to our live blog of Community Board 8's Transportation Committee meeting tonight, which is debating a petition to get rid of the recently installed bike corral on Franklin Avenue.
7:36 p.m.: Constance Nugent-Miller, who started the anti-bike corral petition with Karen Granville gave her reasons for wanting to get rid of the corral: that not enough outreach was done with the people on the block, especially noting that the church wasn't consulted; that every parking spot is needed, especially for those with disabilities and that bike racks can go on the sidewalk
Then Kate Blumm, owner of Little Zelda, the business that worked with the DOT to bring the corral to Franklin Avenue, explained why she thinks the bike corral is a good idea: that it brings more patrons to the business district than a single car spot would bring, that it beautifies the neighborhood, that the sidewalk is less cluttered with bikes chained to signposts and that it provides a better view of the businesses from the street since they're not blocked by a parked car.
Then Jennifer Harris-Hernandez of the DOT said that from their perspective, the bike corral is a success, with bikers using it, even in the "dead of winter," and Little Zelda doing a good job cleaning the litter and providing the plantings.
7:42 p.m.: Chris McNally, a member of CB8's transportation committee, suggested that more meters be put on Franklin Avenue to increase parking turnover.
7:44 p.m.: Alfred Snell, who lives on St. John's Place between Franklin and Bedford, said he has a weak heart and often can only find parking several blocks from the grocery store. He also noted that usually he only sees one or two bikes in the corral. He thinks the bike racks can go on the sidewalk and that providing as much parking as possible for the disabled is more important than bike parking.
7:46 p.m.: Caroline Nagy, who lives at Franklin and St. John's place noted that there isn’t a lot of space on the sidewalks for bike racks, especially around Franklin Park. “It’s actually kind of insane how many bikes are parked there, sometimes you have bikes on bikes."
7:50 p.m.: Leonard Jones, who lives on St. John’s and Nostrand and bikes into midtown every day, said that bikes parked on the sidewalks cause obstacles for pedestrians.
"If we are going to take the bikes out of the street and put them on the sidewalk, wouldn’t that cause the same kind of problems for the disabled?" he said. Riding bikes on the sidewalk is illegal and it’s difficult to get the bike onto the sidewalk between parked cars," he said, adding that he thinks the bike corral reduces speeding.
8 p.m.: Jerry Walsh, owner of Mayday Hardware on Washington Avenue, who notes that he’s been in the neighborhood since he was a child, suggested that the bike corral be put on a side street and more bike racks be put on the sidewalk.
"This should not be about bikers, versus, pedestrians, versus motorists. We are a community, and all of us are going to have to give a little," he said.
8:03 p.m.: Ben Kintisch from Bed-Stuy said, “If I chose to drive from Bedford-Stuyvesant I would be a fool, because there is no parking.”
"If we are serious as a community about improving accessibility for disabled I’m all for it. Then why don’t we have one handicapped parking spot per block? But that’s not what this is about. This is about one parking spot for a car, versus eight parking spots for bikes.”
8:14 p.m.: Answering the question of whether the corral could be moved onto a side street, Keith Bray, from the DOT, said that it would be hard to find a business partner to clean the corral, since it wouldn't be in front of the business's storefront.
8:20 p.m.: Karen Granville, the other person who started the petition, said that she lives at 732 Franklin Ave., the same block as the corral, and that she has trouble finding parking when she drives home after a 12-14-hour day as a nurse. Her biggest concern is that she thinks the community wasn't properly consulted before putting in the corral.
"All I’m saying is we wish some kind of communication that had been extended to us. Please don’t think it’s a matter of we’re being difficult, that it’s a black and white thing. … We’re just saying that there was no proper communication," she said.
8:23 p.m.: Susan Boyle, another community member, agreed with Granvilled that more outreach should have been done:
"The problem here was that there wasn’t a clear communication and maybe the most thorough canvassing of the block that was impacted the most. … But what can we do now to make up of that lack of communication that happened? What can we do besides having competing petitions? … Is there a compromise?" she said.
8:25 p.m.: Committee Co-Chair Rob Witherwax thanked attendees for keeping on topic. "I’m glad we didn’t get into gentrification, of which this is not (pause) a symbol."
8:27 p.m.: Committee Co-Chair Dr. Frederick Monderson suggests tabling the issue and doing greating outreach, such as talking to the church. Co-Chair Witherwax said the outreach isn't necessary now because the corral is there and everyone knows about it. He says we need to do something about it tonight.
8:31 p.m.: Chris McNally said she requested 80 racks in CB8 in June but has only seen a few installed. "I don't think the solution is to put it on the sidewalk because I don't think the city will. ... They will come in and measure and say 'Not suitable.' I want to vote on this issue tonight because I want to vote for it."
8:33 p.m.: Rob Witherwax makes a motion that the commitee vote to reaffirm support of the racks. The motion would also request that the DOT report back in late spring on how the corral is working out, look at adding more meter parking on Franklin Avenue and look into putting more sidewalk bike racks on the avenue.
8:35 p.m.: The committee unanimously votes to reaffirm support of the bike corral. It next goes to the full board for a vote.
8:45 p.m.: Following the vote, Nugent-Miller said she would go back to the people who signed her petition and see how they wanted to proceed.
"I think it's going to polarize our community even more. They felt they were not notified for a reason—because they don't count. And this solidified it," she said.