Heavy Demand Seen In Northwest Brooklyn
by Ranaan Geberer
BROOKLYN — A day after the city Department of Transportation announced the selection of Alta Bicycle Share to develop and operate a European-style bike share system in New York City, the DOT Thursday solicited the public to suggest locations for “bike stations” on its website.
Alta was selected through a competitive RFP process that evaluated various proposals. The system will not use taxpayer money, according to DOT, and Alta will enter into a revenue sharing agreement with the city for all system profits.
For a yearly or monthly fee, bicyclists will be able to pick up a bike at one of the Alta stations, then return it at any other station in the city. The system is slated to launch in 2012.
Alta’s preliminary plans Wednesday for the location of its “bike stations” revealed that the company planned to establish stations in an area of Brooklyn stretching roughly from Greenpoint and Brooklyn Heights east to part of Bedford-Stuyvesant and south to Park Slope.
Some online commentators criticized the company for ignoring Brooklyn’s working-class, ethnic and low-income neighborhoods.
However, results of the public’s suggestions seen online Thursday revealed that the areas of most demand were concentrated in the same areas that Alta had designated in the first place.
Demand for establishing new stations was heavy in Greenpoint-Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Windsor Terrace, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Bedford-Stuyvesant, East Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Fort Greene and Victorian Flatbush.
These are all areas dominated by fairly well-off, well-educated families and singles, many of them who came to New York from other parts of the country.
Demand was much lighter, according to the map, in Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Coney Island, Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, Borough Park, East Flatbush, Bushwick, Flatlands, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, East New York, Brownsville, Sheepshead Bay and Cypress Hills.
These neighborhoods vary quite a bit in character — for example, East New York is one of the borough’s poorest neighborhoods, if not the poorest, and Manhattan Beach is one of its wealthiest. Borough Park is mainly populated by Orthodox Jews, while East Flatbush is heavily Caribbean.
What these neighborhoods have in common is that they are mainly populated by native New Yorkers or immigrants from abroad who are fairly traditional in their lifestyles. They are also neighborhoods where many residents have cars. While many in these areas ride bikes for recreation, the idea of using bikes on a day-to-day basis may strike them as trendy and unnecessary.
Meanwhile, a cross-section of the borough’s political and business communities gave its enthusiastic approval to the idea.
“Public bike sharing is a great opportunity for the city to continue moving in a greener direction through expanding mobility options for NYC residents; the initiative also promotes a healthy lifestyle,” said Council Member Letitia James (D-Fort Greene/Prospect Heights). “Also, new jobs will be created through the NYC Bike Share program, along with an increase in revenue for the city, which should make bicycle sharing a win-win program all around.”
“I’m looking very forward to the day when my Brooklyn constituents — and their friends and families and guests — can hop on one of NYC’s bike-share bikes to get to work, to school, to the subway, or to one of our great parks,” said Council Member Brad Lander (D-Park Slope/Windsor Terrace/Kensington). “This is a great step forward toward a more livable, sustainable, safe, and, well, fun New York City.”
“Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation is eager to facilitate the implementation of Bike Share in Bedford-Stuyvesant,” said Colvin W. Grannum, president/CEO of Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. “We see innumerable benefits to local business and individual health. Local streets are likely to be less congested which should facilitate local residents in navigating community thoroughfares more easily and patronizing more local business.”
The do-it-yourself map can be found at http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/bikeshare/