Remember when IKEA was trying to woo Red Hook with all those promises about being such a great neighbor? Well, the honeymoon's over. At a Community Board 6 meeting last Thursday night, the Swedish retailer came down hard on a DOT plan to install a bike lane that would run four measly blocks on Columbia Street from Bay Street, onto Halleck and Beard Streets. "It seems dangerous to officially encourage bikes to the front of IKEA," intoned IKEA Manager Mike Baker, whom one member of the transportation committee described as "confrontational."
In a statement submitted to the committee, Baker even went so far as to tell the committee that IKEA would renege on its promise [pdf] to do traffic analyses to determine the store’s impact on Red Hook, which was "a key concession to the community in the lead up to the store’s 2008 opening," Brooklyn Paper reports (in an article that has, maddeningly, not yet appeared on their website). Baker's concern, ostensibly, is that the Ikea-provided traffic-calming measures would be minimized by the bike lane, which would also eliminate one car lane.
“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," Baker warned. In response to the bike lane bashing, Transportation Alternaives' Noah Budnick said, "IKEA has enough enemies as it is in that neighborhood, I don’t know why they would stand up and oppose a safety project."