Biking in Bushwick

Adi Talwar

'The fourteen proposed stations along Bushwick and Broadway highlight the reason why Citi Bike in Bushwick is currently a bad idea, as those stations may indicate to cyclists that both avenues can support cycling even though they barely support the current vehicular and pedestrian traffic.'

At some point every day, we traverse Bushwick Avenue. During the morning and afternoon rush hour, cars, trucks, and buses make their way to their destination; typically going to and later returning from work. The traffic gradually decreases, although it remains busy throughout the day, as various commuters utilize the corridor, including the rare cyclist braving the unpredictable road and traffic conditions.

According to the NYU Furman Center’s State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2018, the population in Bushwick has increased from 120,710 in 2000 to 140,474 in 2017. The majority of the bordering community districts have seen population increases, as well, furthering the overall gentrification of northern Brooklyn and the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens.

With an increase in population and socio-economic diversity, the need for efficient means of transportation has grown simultaneously. “More New Yorkers than ever before are embracing cycling as a convenient and affordable way to get around—in the last decade alone, annual bicycle trips rose 150 percent, noted the NYC Department of Transportation in the executive summary of their 2017 Safer Cycling Bicycle Ridership and Safety in New York City.

On August 27, 2019 the DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner’s office sent a letter to the community board detailing Citi Bike’s Phase III expansion, which was announced by Mayor de Blasio in July. “In CB4, there are 46 Citi Bike stations planned for this fall, bringing the total to 61 stations,” noting public outreach was conducted online. Earlier this year, the board’s office received a similar letter describing the initial expansion plans, which was immediately met with a response letter from us urging additional community engagement to prepare for the rollout.

As public servants who are also cyclists, we understand the importance of having an alternative and more affordable means of transportation. However, we urge Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Mayor Bill de Blasio to reconsider the consequences of expanding Citi Bike in Bushwick, specifically along Bushwick Avenue and Broadway, without additional engagement and investment in safety improvements.

This summer, there was a city-wide spike in fatal cyclist collisions, including on both Bushwick Avenue and Broadway. Fourteen of the forty-six stations scheduled to be installed this fall are on Bushwick and Broadway. For more than several years, both avenues have been included in Community Board 4’s annual Statement of Community District Needs, specifying the need for further study and investment in revitalization.

In preparation for the fiscal year 2021 statement and budget consultations, we have repeatedly reiterated the importance of investing in the appropriate safety and general infrastructure to support all commuters. Without these types of investments everyone, including cyclists, will be at risk of injury or a fatal accident. The fourteen proposed stations along Bushwick and Broadway highlight the reason why Citi Bike in Bushwick is currently a bad idea, as those stations may indicate to cyclists that both avenues can support cycling even though they barely support the current vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Too often the comments of community boards are over-simplified when it comes to bikes and/or bike lanes. We are quickly labeled as “pro-car” or “anti-bike” without further attention to the root concerns and asks.

Community Board 4 continues to advocate for projects that improve the quality of life for all residents. We continue to work closely with all our elected officials and agency liaisons to do so, recommending increased accountability, education, and enforcement when it comes to cycling projects in Bushwick.

The next time you’re driving or otherwise find yourself on Bushwick Avenue or Broadway ask yourself, “Do I feel safe? Are the streets safe for children and older adults? Would I encourage people to bike or use Citi Bike here?”

We want to hear from you. And, more importantly, so should the NYC Department of Transportation.

Robert Camacho is the Chairperson and Celestina Leon is the District Manager of Brooklyn Community Board 4, which represents the neighborhood of Bushwick. Its boundaries currently extend from Flushing Avenue on the north, Broadway on the southwest, the border with Queens to the northeast, and the Cemetery of the Evergreens on the southeast. Brooklyn Community Board 4 meets on the third Wednesday of the month, except during July and August, at the Hope Gardens Multi-Service Senior Center located at 195 Linden Street unless otherwise announced. All meetings are open to the public.

11 thoughts on “Opinion: 14 Reasons Why Citi Bike in Bushwick is a Bad Idea

  1. NYC policies and all available funds should be for bus and subway mass transportation – not bicycling.
    It is unconscionable that while the MTA cuts bus service and raises fares, that NYC expands bicycle lanes etc.

    Bicycling in crowded NYC is not just dangerous for everyone (pedestrians, cyclists, drivers) but also results in gentrification and demographic stratification.

    Instead of Citibike, how about if Citicorp funds Access a Ride? Or free weekend bus and subway for low-income children?

    • Buses and subways should be well funded and accessible. Pedestrian and bicyclist safety must also be supported through policies and street infrastructure that promote safety. To the extent possible, automobile and truck use should be minimized.

    • Money for bicycle infrastructure goes a long way. There’s a huge bang for the buck in terms of moving people. A protected bicycle lane is typically paint and signage. The most expensive components are relocated concrete pedestrian islands, which are for pedestrian safety purposes. They aren’t always installed, and some islands remain painted and delineated with plastic posts. Keep in mind that this type of infrastructure is still few and far in NYC. Most bicycle lanes are only painted.

      Increased bicycle infrastructure has nothing to do with MTA service cuts on buses.

      Bicycling is a mostly safe activity, also increased bicycling doesn’t result in gentrification and stratification.

      And Citi Bike is privately funded, currently owned by Lyft.

  2. If the argument here is that the street is too dangerous for cycling, then surely the board will support removing parking to install protected bicycle lanes and other safety measures to protect one of the fastest-growing forms of transportation in the city, especially at a time when we need to convince people to get out of single-occupancy cars and SUVs that take up too much space and burn too much fossil fuel to be compatible with our looming climate crisis.

  3. The Bushwick area isn’t too dangerous for bicycling, this piece is ridiculous. There should be increased traffic calming to reduce collisions but bicycling is already very popular in Bushwick and northern Brooklyn in general.

    You’re much more likely to be killed or seriously injured riding a bicycle on Staten Island or the fringes of Queens where traffic is traveling much more quickly.

  4. Pingback: Citi Bike Expansion Begins Next Week into Ridgewood and Deeper into Bushwick – Streetsblog New York City

  5. Pingback: Citi Bike Expansion Begins Next Week into Ridgewood and Deeper into Bushwick | News for New Yorkers

  6. This is lazy, worthless leadership by supposed “community leaders.” If cycling is unsafe in Bushwick, then the Community Board should be drafting a resolution to send a letter to NYC DOT demanding immediate better, safer bike infrastructure. The DOT’s rollout of unprotected bike lanes over the past few years in Bushwick was toothless — the pavement markings have already worn off the bike lanes on Irving Avenue. Coincidentally, most of the members of CB4 who approved those plans are still members of the board.

    What strikes me as most telling about this op-ed is the fact that the writers lead with “the next time you’re driving.” Driving is what makes cycling in Bushwick dangerous. We shouldn’t place the convenience of drivers over the safety of cyclists or pedestrians. The sooner the leadership of CB4 recognizes this, the quicker they can act to make our streets safer. Until then, this is just pointless pearl-clutching. People are already cycling in Bushwick. The time to act is now.

  7. Pingback: Manhattan CB9 Big: Citi Bike Won’t Get ‘Our’ Parking Without A Fight – Streetsblog New York City

  8. Pingback: Manhattan CB9 Big: Citi Bike Won't Get 'Our' Parking Without A Fight | News for New Yorkers

  9. Citibike is safe as long as bicyclists obey traffic rules. I ve seen many passed red light just becUse they think they can do it. Citibike is a good way to travel to further subway stations not just walking 20 blocks. People need to worry about bushwick loud music and crimes instead of worrying having citibike will gentrify the neighborhood. Tell people to have 2 cars .
    Stupid piece of articles.

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