Around 70 Prospect Heights and Crown Heights gathered in the basement of St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf in Crown Heights on Wednesday evening to tell the city’s Transportation Department the best locations for future Citi Bike docking stations. It was the second round of planning workshops for the Citi Bike’s expansion into Brooklyn next year and residents appeared most worried that the new docking stations would limit parking and connections to other forms of transportation.
Nine round tables set up in the basement each contained a map of the area. Residents carefully examined the maps and pinned blue and red stickers on it to show their preference on docking station locations. Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, which are covered by Brooklyn Community Boards 8 and 9, are the target areas of the Brooklyn expansion.
Citi Bike started with 6,000 bikes and 332 stations around the city when it was launched in May 2013, and is projected to reach 12,000 bikes and around 750 stations by the end of 2017, said Anne Krassner, education and outreach manager of Citi Bike, told residents.
“We broke our record on daily ridership twice a week this year,” she said. Citi Bike daily ridership hit 60,000 on Sept. 7 and then rose to record high 61,266 on Sept. 8, according to the mayor’s office.
Citi Bike was installed in Brooklyn in 2013 and the borough currently has 235 docking stations, said Dani Simons, director of communication and external affairs at Motivate, the company that runs Citi Bike. In addition to the Brooklyn expansion, Citi Bike will also add docking stations next year in Astoria and 130th Street in Manhattan, she said.
According to the map shown to the residents, the expansion area goes from Atlantic Avenue in the north to Lefferts Avenue in the south and from Flatbush Avenue in the west to Rodgers Avenue in the east.
Rober Saffer, 62, a computer programmer who works at the Atlantic Center, is going to move from Park Slope to Crown Heights next month. He had been using Citi Bike since the bike share program started. He said beside this workshop, he attended two other ones for Park Slope in the past. “People are concerned about losing parking spaces,” Saffer said.
Parking space was also on the mind of Jason Atkins, 32, who lives in Crown Heights and works in Jersey City. He filled out nearly every line for station location comment on the survey sheet provided by the transportation department. Atkins said while he is a biker and does not commute in cars, he would really like to see stations set up on sidewalks to keep parking spaces in the neighborhood.
“It’s getting harder and harder to park in Crown Heights,” Atkins said. “The ability to know that when I come back home and get a parking space when I do drive is very important to me and my family.”
Other participants at the workshop raised concerns about congested pedestrian traffic if the stations are set on sidewalks. Krassner said that Citi Bike would only install its docking stations on sidewalks that are at least 16 feet wide.
Residents are also hoping to see Citi Bike stations set near public transit hubs. Josef Szende, 31, who lives near Grand Army Plaza, started using Citi Bike in 2013. He said the best locations are near public transit.
Saffer agreed. “My biggest concern is how to move around freely,” he said.
Valerie Fleming, 56, of Crown Heights, said the workshop is a great opportunity for residents to get involved in what is going to happen in the neighborhood. She said setting stations near mass transit and businesses might be a better idea because setting them in residential areas would take up public spaces. “If it is close to a train station, it would be a plus to the community,” Fleming said.
Krassner said Citi Bike is still at the beginning stage of the 2017 expansion. Besides these community workshops, Citi Bike and the transportation department also do pop-up workshops at train stations to reach more people, she said. Krassner said Citi Bike will also conduct door-to-door notifications at least one month before the station installation, which would allow residents to report their concerns to the transportation department.