Ikea to city: No bike lanes!

Traffic to Ikea has not been as bad as it was when the store opened in 2008, so now the city wants to paint a bike lane near the store — but the store's manager objects.
The Brooklyn Paper
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A city plan for new bike lanes to the Ikea superstore would be so “dangerous” according to the store’s manager that he’s threatening to renege on some promises to the community if the project goes forward.

The Department of Transportation says that the four-block lane, which will be painted in both directions on Columbia Street from Bay Street onto Halleck and Beard streets, is a reasonable measure given that the Swedish furniture giant has not received as much car traffic as originally expected.

The lane would eliminate one lane for drivers on the southbound side — an acceptable loss, according to the city.

But a “confrontat­ional” Ikea Manager Mike Baker said that a southbound bike lane along Beard and Halleck streets would put cars, buses and bikers on a collision course to the entrance of the big box on Beard Street.

“It seems dangerous to officially encourage bikes to the front of Ikea,” Baker told Community Board 6 on Thursday night.

Baker was so opposed to the project that he said Ikea would not conduct promised traffic analyses to determine the store’s impact on Red Hook, a key concession to the community in the lead up to the store’s 2008 opening.

“If [the city] insists on proceeding with the south-side bike lane, [it] should be responsible for periodically monitoring safety along those bike lanes,” said Baker.

One member of the transportation committee, Roy Sloane, described Baker’s statement as “confrontat­ional.”

Baker justified the surprising ultimatum by saying that the bike lane would undermine many of Ikea-provided traffic-calming measures, such as neckdowns and pavement markings.

“If the … traffic management elements constructed and funded by Ikea are going to be modified … then Ikea is not responsible for impacting or remedying the vehicular flow in Red Hook.”

But cyclists, as well as board members, were skeptical of Baker’s claim.

“Scores of people ride that route because it’s a connection from Court Street and the Red Hook ballfields towards the western part of the neighborho­od,” said Noah Budnick, a policy adviser with Transportation Alternatives, a cycling advocacy group. “People naturally follow Halleck already — it makes sense to put in a safety measure [for bicycles].”

Budnick also scoffed at the threat from Ikea.

“It’s clearly written by a lawyer,” said Budnick. “Ikea has enough enemies as it is in that neighborhood, I don’t know why they would stand up and oppose a safety project.”

Updated 5:18 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

S from Brooklyn says:
"A city plan for new bike lanes to the Ikea superstore would be so “dangerous” according to the store’s manager that he’s threatening to renege on some promises to the community if the project goes forward."

IKEA already reneged on its promise to provide a free ferry. First it was free to all, then they said customers would ride first, then finally it was customers ONLY.

A threat to renege on promises doesn't mean much when you don't keep them to begin with.
June 24, 2010, 4:07 am
jon from south brooklyn says:
mike baker is a store manager, not a traffic engineer. his opinion is reactionary and unscientific. Tons of people already bike on Beard Street without incident. I believe Mr. baker's opinion is heavily influenced by the anti-bike sentiment sweeping the borough thanks to that old prince of demagoguery, Marty Markowitz! the new class war is the dees and dums from south brooklyn vs. bike riding bo-bos from the brownstone belt. what dormant conflict can the BP stir up next?
June 24, 2010, 7:34 am
Steve from Gowanus says:
I bike to Ikea all the time and either pick up small things and carry them back or have big things delivered. If the manager continues to be so against bike lanes, I'll cease shopping there.

Good job, Mike Baker.
June 24, 2010, 11:40 am
Julie from Williamsburg says:
IKEA is not the only thing in Red Hook and we were certainly biking there long before it showed up. I second Steve's intention to cease shopping there should Mike Baker's threats become reality.
June 24, 2010, 12:21 pm
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
The only thing newsworthy in this story is that some people are surprised that Ikea is telling Red Hook, F—U.

That's what all Big Box stores do: Promise anything to sneak past community resistance to their entry … then do what they intended to do all along: Rape the community and send the profits out of town (or in Ikea's case, out of the country).
June 24, 2010, 12:30 pm
Charlie from Prospect Park South says:
Ikea no more for me. They come into Brooklyn and oppose positive environment actions. May they choke on their poor carbon footprint before the rest of us do. Those of us who believe in teh future are their market - why not just spit on us.
June 24, 2010, 12:34 pm
skippy from expat aussie in EU says:
IKEA who are they? Wouldn't shop there if i was given the money!
Who wants crap in their home? IKEA telling people what to do ? No cycling allowed near their store? Is this the way they treat their clients in scandanavia which was their home base once a long time ago?
BOYCOTT needed here !!
June 24, 2010, 2:51 pm
CarsOnlyForIkea from Crown Heights says:
I ride in Red Hook frequently and I even ride by bike to Ikea. If there is something I cannot carry on the bike I have it delivered. It's true though, shop somewhere else, if you can. It might take longer, and you may have to hit multiple stores, but f**K Ikea if they cannot accommodate a bike lane. If I were managing Ikea I would say make that bike lane go straight into my parking lot and stop at my bike racks!
June 24, 2010, 4:29 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Damn chain stores are the curse of "modern" Brooklyn.

Send Trader Joe's back to California! Shop Key Food and Fairway — both NYC-owned and operated.
June 24, 2010, 5:29 pm
senator pothole from bay ridge says:
How is it even possible to ride a bike in Red Hook with all the craters in the streets?
June 24, 2010, 8:24 pm
MinNY says:
Ikea worldwide seems to be on a totally different side of this issue - many of their European stores lend out cargo bikes to help their customers get home with their purchases, and one year gave out 9000 bicycles to all of its employees.

I wonder if some well-placed communications to the corporate headquarters (not just the US headquarters) might end this anti-bicycle, anti-planning posturing really quickly.
June 25, 2010, 8:18 am
Marty Barfowitz from An Outer Borought says:
This moron Mike Baker reminds me of BP's Tony Hayward ordering reporters and citizens off of the beaches of Louisiana during the oil spill clean-up.

What gives this out-of-town corporation any right to dictate how the public streets of Red Hook are used and designed? The People of the City of New York determine how their streets are to be planned and designed, not some Swedish big box corp. And, I'm sorry but if cyclist safety is a problem in front of their store, the solution is not to get rid of the cyclists. The solution is to make the streets safe for cyclists. Mike Baker seems to think he's managing a store adjacent to a highway off-ramp. This isn't suburban sprawlville, Mike. This is a city.

When it comes to transportation, Ikea has already reneged on its free buses and the free ferry. The city should build all of the bike infrastructure we need and we should insist on Ikea paying for it. It's the least they can do for all of the costs of car-dependency that they have forced us to bear.
June 25, 2010, 8:35 am
j. mork from brooklyn says:
Mr. Baker: How can we get these loaner cargo bikes in Brooklyn? That would be an amazing way to empower car-free shoppers in Brooklyn and would make bold statement of caring about the community and the planet.
June 25, 2010, 9:13 am
David from Reality says:
Get the cargo bikes, and your business will grow.

I know there are a lot of Brooklynites like me:
I avoid certain shopping trips/purchases *specifically because* they require a car trip or a truck delivery (very expensive, btw), when they shouldn't. I do this because I am against congesting my own streets and polluting the air when it's not really necessary.

If I had alternatives such as a loaner cargo bike, I would probably go to IKEA a lot more often.

If Ikea Brooklyn started lending/renting cargo bikes to purchasers, I bet its business would grow noticeably because, again, I am sure there are many others who feel the same way.

Contact IKEA Brooklyn if you feel the same way:
June 25, 2010, 9:56 am
C. Rorb from Red Hook says:
For the life of me, I can't believe how idiotic this sounds. IKEA sounds like a child throwing a baby tantrum. Aren't well-respected (well maybe not so more) companies supposed to present themselves in a more dignified manner?

The bike lane will go in. Nothing will happen of negative consequence except that IKEA will see even more visitors, unless word really gets around the bike community that it seems they don't want their business.
June 27, 2010, 7:44 pm
Sophie from Downtown says:
I actually am glad to see a rational person say out loud that biking in NYC is too dangerous. I am very concerned that the DOT is pushing biking and making people think it is safe here when it just isn't. Have had too many close encounters with bike fatalities here, don't want to see more. The DOT should instead be working on limiting access of cars to the city and policing aggressive driving.
June 28, 2010, 9:02 pm
j mork from p hts says:
I would actually be glad to see a rational person say out loud that driving in NYC is too dangerous. I am very concerned that the DOT is pushing driving and making people think it is safe here when it just isn't. Have had too many close encounters with car fatalities here, don't want to see more. The DOT should be working harder on limiting access of cars to the city and policing aggressive driving.
June 29, 2010, 9:25 am
sir bikesalot from williburg says:
we can't boycott ikea - it's too cheap. but we can do a bike sit-in, blocking access to it for everyone but pedestriams, cyclists, and buses.

alternatively, we could contact ikea corporate, which is still located in sweden. they would fire this jacka$$ so fast he wouldn't have time to grab some lingonberry jelly on his way out!
June 29, 2010, 1:12 pm
Cyclist from NYC says:
Hold on everyone. Ikea should not be forced to do a study that is the City's repsonsiblity.

Let Ikea do the traffic study it promised to determine the effects of their traffic calming measures. This would conclude their commitment for future traffic studies.

DOT can then go in and do their own bike lane feasibility study and disclose their results. If they are positive, then DOT can install the bike lanes. DOT should then be responsible for their charter mandate traffic, i.e. tranasportation, monitoring responsibilities.
June 29, 2010, 2:19 pm
Lee from NYC says:
funny, in Copenhagen IKEA actually gives you loaner IKEA utility bicycles to bring your stuff back home from the store. They strongly encourage you to bike to IKEA in pretty much any other country.

Not too long ago in the UK they gave out 9,000 free folding bicycles to their staff, because they were are so strongly in favor of bicycle use.

Even here in DC most of the IKEAs are on the METRO subway and near a bike trail. It seems like it's really only the NYC IKEA that is anti-bike. It doesn't make any sense really.
July 2, 2010, 6:16 am
Jackson from Jersey says:
Bikes should be banned from city streets. Playground vehicles like bicycles should stay off the road.
Sept. 1, 2010, 1:20 pm
Alecia from NC says:
I happen to work for IKEA and actually went to Brooklyn for the build up of that store. Dissuading bikers and bike lanes seems very un-IKEA. Especially since this years Christmas gift to every employee was a bike.
Dec. 7, 2010, Noon

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