Red Hook Needs More Bike Parking, Locals Say

By Nikhita Venugopal on April 9, 2014 10:57am 

 Five cycles locked to sign posts and a U-shaped bike rack in Red Hook Tuesday afternoon on Van Brunt Street. 
Five cycles locked to sign posts and a U-shaped bike rack in Red Hook Tuesday afternoon on Van Brunt Street. 
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

RED HOOK — Red Hook's first bike parking area is likely on the way — but the neighborhood needs more bike racks and corrals to serve the growing number of cyclists in the area, some local business owners and biking advocates say.

St. John Frizell, owner of Fort Defiance, applied to install a parking corral that can hold 10 bicycles in front of his 365 Van Brunt St. bar after noticing that the existing U-shaped bike racks on Red Hook's main commercial corridor are often packed.

“My instinct is that with cycle traffic growing in Red Hook, we’re going to need another [bike corral],” he said, in addition to the one he proposed.

Frizell said his business picks up in the summer, thanks in part to visitors arriving in the neighborhood on two wheels, so he hopes to accommodate them as much as possible. It's "extremely rare" to find a spot to lock a bike on summer weekends, he said.

The Fort Defiance bike corral was approved by Community Board 6’s transportation committee last month and will be reviewed by the full board Wednesday night.

Dave Trimble, founder of the Red Hook Criterium, an urban bike race, said that while more cyclists have been flocking to Red Hook, bike racks have been slow to follow.

“There’s no real infrastructure put in place yet,” he said.

Welcoming cyclists is particularly important to the many new eateries, bars and galleries that have popped up in Red Hook in recent years because the neighborhood has no subway stop and can be difficult to access, advocates said.

“Red Hook is a transportation desert,” said Dave “Paco” Abraham, a CB6 member and chairman of Transportation Alternatives' Brooklyn Activist Committee, a bike advocacy group.

While Abraham said the city's Department of Transportation receives dozens of requests for bike corrals and cycling infrastructure throughout the city, “it’s definitely not coming as quickly as the need is there [in Red Hook]."

“The more infrastructure, the better,” added Abraham, who is also co-founder of StreetsPac, a political action committee dedicated to improving city streets.

A spokesman from the DOT did not respond to a request for comment.

Some residents and business owners also want to see more bike lanes in the neighborhood, to improve cyclist safety on busy streets like Van Brunt.

“I think it’s a really dangerous street for bicycles,” said Jane Buck, who owns Foxy & Winston at 392 Van Brunt St. and is a cyclist.

Some bike lanes have already been installed in Red Hook, and additional lanes are under construction as part of the DOT’s Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, which is adding lanes along Van Brunt Street and Imlay Street, along the Atlantic Basin and into Louis Valentino Jr. Park and through Conover and Ferris streets.

The Greenway, a planned 14-mile route for cyclists and pedestrians, already has about 5 miles in place through Brooklyn.

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