Community board members, bike advocates and local residents gathered Wednesday night in Astoria to map out the extension of Citi Bike in the neighborhood. The next expansion of the bike share program will bring docking stations up to a large chunk of the neighborhood, as well as up to 130th Street in Manhattan.
As Citi Bike has been steadily expanding into Brooklyn, Queens and upper Manhattan, some New Yorkers have voiced frustration at having stations in their neighborhoods. Some have bemoaned the loss of parking spaces or the claimed influx of "undesirables," while some are just plain angry.
Citi Bike and Department of Transportation representatives gave short presentations to tables of five to seven individuals, giving everyone the gist of Citi Bike's purpose and reach, as well as a rundown of the factors that impact where docking stations can feasibly go. Then they pulled out large-scale maps of Astoria with pre-approved docking stations marked—one map per table. Attendees were given stickers (blue for yes, red for no) and a comments sheet to detail the reasons behind their preferences.
Blue stickers were concentrated on the diagonal traversing of Astoria, which is currently a schlep and a half that usually involves at least one cab fare, as well as expanding options for residents in the subway gulf between the N/Q on 31st Street and the E/M/R along Broadway. Walking around the hall to different tables, there were a lot of blue stickers. Most of the people in attendance said they were supportive of the expansion.
Red stickers popped up along the northern border and Astoria Park, a heavily residential area whose population skews older. Most were on the map of Robert Piazza, the CB1 Transportation Committee chairperson.
Several attendees complained that that part of the neighborhood is anti-bike. "[They say], 'It's gonna mess up our parking.' It's actually adding parking! Now I get to have parking! That spot has your name on it?" said bike advocate and Astoria resident Macartney Morris, echoing CB1 District Manager Florence Koulouris's assessment of the concerns of the older demographic.
But there didn't seem to be much representation of the group at the meeting. Piazza didn't want to talk about his table's map or his concerns about certain stations.
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Publicly expressed concerns over parking were limited, save for a proposed dock at 33rd Avenue between Crescent Street and 29th Street. (This issue seemed to be resolved with the suggestion that the dock be placed on Crescent, which attendees said has bountiful parking).
So where were all these angry car-centric older folks?
"They're a small vocal minority that doesn't get involved," said Transportation Committee member Nancy Silverman. "They'll write negative comments if you publish an article. But they don't actually come out until after something has happened, and then they argue that there was no opportunity for community input."