In a feat of bureaucratic efficiency as rare as a tornado in Brooklyn, the city has installed more than 60 bike racks in Park Slope and Red Hook — a mere four weeks after a neighborhood organization asked for them.
We installed about 60 bike racks within Community Board 6,” said Joshua Benson, the bicycle program coordinator for the Department of Transportation. “The only contender [for more racks] in Brooklyn would be Greenpoint and Williamsburg.”
Park Slope also has the most cyclist commuters of any neighborhood in New York City, according to a Department of City planning survey released in May.
The bike racks — which cost the city between $225 to $275 a piece, depending on whether they are small (one upside-down metal U), or large (two upside-down Us connected by a right-side-up U) — now stand in front of the Haagen-Dazs on Seventh Avenue between Carroll and President streets, the Astoria Federal branch at Seventh Avenue and President Street (above), and the Gate, on Fifth Avenue and Third Street — among dozens of other locations.
Normally, the city’s turnaround time after receiving a request for a bike rack is two months. In this case, it was only a couple of weeks, thanks, in large part, to the Park Slope Civic Council, which noted the locations of Schwinns chained to trees and Bianchis to lampposts. A large grouping of chained wheels was taken as an indicator of bike-rack need.
Council volunteers, led by Lauri Schindler, got request forms from the city, secured consent from the property owners and community board, and then — phew! — submitted a request for 18 bike racks in late May.
And voila! As fast as Lance Armstrong in a bike lane, a few weeks later, the city installed those — and 40 more.
“A big part of [making our transportation infrastructure green] is giving people ways to get around the city that don’t involve combustion engines,” said Benson, who commutes to work on a single-speed bicycle.
Green they may be, but the bike racks aren’t always foolproof. As The Brooklyn Paper reported in June, in at least one instance, thieves ripped a bike rack out of the cement along Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill and stole a woman’s red Voodoo Hoodoo two-wheeler.
And there’s another potential issue looming. Unlike the Civic Council, the city does not routinely ask adjacent property owners for approval of a bike rack — an oversight that worries at least one community leader.
I hope that the ones they put in won’t meet with objections,” said Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community 6. “The city seems to think it can just install bike racks wherever it wants.”