Oct. 27, 2014 By Michael Florio
Community Board 1 voted against the placement of a bicycle corral outside a bar/restaurant in Dutch Kills last Tuesday.
The proposal called for a corral– with room for eight bicycles–to be located outside Dutch Kills Centraal, a gastro pub situated at 38-40 29th Street. However, the corral, would result in the loss of a parking space.
Community Board 1 said its decision was largely based on the feedback it received from nearby residents. The board said it put the matter up for a vote by circulating voter cards in Dutch Kills buildings – as well at this month’s Dutch Kills Civic Association meeting.
Robert Piazza, who is the chairman of Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee, said that the majority of those residents who voted were against it. He said the vote was 90 for the corral and 116 against.
Therefore, he said, the transportation committee opposed to.
The full board heard the recommendation and 15 members decided to vote against it while 9 for it.
Dominic Stiller, the owner of Dutch Kills Centraal, was the leading advocate for the corral. He said that the board did not give him a fair chance to present his plan.
“There is a real backlash against bicyclists from those who are afraid of losing their parking spots,” he said. “They would rather see bicycles jammed up against the pedestrian sidewalk.”
Stiller questioned the transparency of the 116 vs 90 vote. He said that each vote–containing the resident’s name and address– should be made public. He said the community board excluded some valid votes from people who live in nearby neighborhoods.
“[CB1] arbitrarily threw out a lot of positive comments from people that work in the area and that’s unfair,” he said. “They live in other areas but work here and their votes should count.”
Furthermore, “They are not letting anyone see the results,” he said
However, Hartmann said that many voters wanted their information to be kept confidential. “I am not going to give out the names and addresses of the people who voted against him. I don’t think that’s fair,” she said.
Stiller also said that there were not enough CB1 board members at the meeting to ensure a proper vote– as there were only 23 out of the 50 members in attendance at the time of the vote.
Despite their being a lack of a quorum, a quorum is only required on votes concerning land use matters, said Lucille Hartmann, Community Board 1 district manager,
Jean Cawley, a member of the Dutch Kills Civic Association and Stiller’s wife, addressed the board stating that the bike coral would encourage bike riding, which is a healthy alternative to driving and decreases pollution.
“I want my community to be more livable,” she said.“Making bicycling easier, safer and more convenient will improve everyone’s quality of life.”
Vinicio Donato, Chairman of CB1, questioned Cawley if she believes bicyclists should have to follow the same traffic rules as automobiles, stating that from what he had witnessed “bicyclist have no regards for an automobile and do not follow traffic laws.”
Cawley said it would be up to the police to enforce traffic laws upon bicyclists, and added that saying no to everything bicycle related is not the answer.
One board member said that it was not fair to ask question about the actions of other riders.
After the meeting, Cawley wrote to the Transportation Commission Polly Trottenberg, Streetsblog reported, stating that “Queens CB1 is decidedly ‘anti-bike’” and that “I feel disenfranchised by their constant ‘no’ votes to anything that would increase or improve bicycling infrastructure and safety.”
Although I do agree with improving bicycle infrastructure, I don’t think we should use up street space for them. Vehicle parking is bad enough in Astoria and reducing it with bike corrals makes it worse. Better to just build more posts to lock bicycles near the sidewalk curbs.
Couldn’t they put one or two of those posts on the sidewalk, next to the parking meter?
There are plenty of official posts to lock up a bicycle without taking up parking spaces.