“Beat the L Train Blues” is bold in the header of Citi Bike’s Brooklyn web page, and proclaims “33 more Citi Bike stations in #Williamsburg”! If you click on the map inset, you’ll go to a map page titled, “Expansion Williamsburg”. No matter if you size the map up or down, either way is intimidating. Blue pins cover huge swaths of territory turning Williamsburg totally blue in close up, and showing the breadth of the area which has a bike dock. If Citi Bike continues to install racks at this rate, one day you could wake up to a bike dock in your kitchen.
In an outdoor sense, that’s about what happened to business owners on Graham Avenue between Conselyea Street and Metropolitan Avenue. About a month ago a Citi Bike corral appeared, without any prior notice to the businesses that this would happen. The dock takes up about three car lengths, hence knocking out some precious parking space, for one thing.
Phil Fontana of Tony’s Pizza sees it as an impediment to his business as he has customers who just park to pop-in to take out a slice and drive off. He also said, “I don’t know why they put it in the street instead of the sidewalk. Plus there’s the thing about the garbage.” He points to the garbage collecting in the stalls and said he could be liable for that and ticketed. He told of the time he caught Citi Bike technicians at this dock one night: he asked them what they were going to do about the garbage. He relayed they didn’t have an answer, and what garbage they did pick up, they threw back into the street.
Bernadette Libonate owner and founder of Milly and Earl, a lovely and ethereal gift shop, mentioned traffic as her top irritation caused by the bike corral, “There are so many restaurants. We’re next to a bar, across the street from a restaurant and another bar, a pizza place nextdoor, bodegas, there’s deliveries on this block all day long. Huge Mack trucks coming down Graham Avenue whenever a truck pulls up round here they have to do it in the middle of the street. They can’t get close to the sidewalk, and it causes pandemonium, people fighting, screaming. It’s just really negative.”
“And it’s supposed to be a positive thing, which it could have been,” said Jen, an employee of the shop.
“The location was poorly chosen. I see people using it, which is great as obviously there is a need for it. They really missed the mark as to where to put it. They took up street parking on a small road. That’s another thing there are 3 of them in a half a mile radius. This Citi Bike thing is just a nuisance and it’s annoying, and I hate having my door closed, and I have to keep it closed now because there’s so much negativity outside. A Citi Bike representative came around [shortly after it appeared] and asked if I liked it, and I said, ‘Mmm … not really,” said Bernadette.