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Official Asks Citi Bike to Roll Out Station at Vacant Smith Street Lot

By Nikhita Venugopal | September 16, 2013 9:21am
 Local officials and residents are eyeing an unused lot on Smith Street as a location for Citi Bike in Carroll Gardens. 
Possible Citi Bike Location in Carroll Gardens
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CARROLL GARDENS — A local official is hoping to bring Citi Bike to Carroll Gardens after suggesting that a vacant Smith Street property be used for a bike share station, DNAinfo New York has learned. 

Assemblywoman Joan Millman reached out to Citi Bike officials on Aug. 28, proposing the lot at Smith and Union streets as a location for a terminal, she said. 

Millman also reached out to the plot’s owner — 336 Union Realty LLC, according to city documents — who agreed to the proposed station, she said.

The lot once held three graffiti-covered kiosks, which were occupied by the Brooklyn Indie Market, where handcrafted products were sold until 2010.

“It looks like we have a huge port-a-stand there,” said Millman, whose district office on Smith Street is near the kiosks and an old tent, which were dismantled and removed last week.

As an off-the-street location, a new Citi Bike terminal wouldn’t take over any parking spots on Smith Street, she added. 

Jeffrey Ull, one of the site’s landlords, did not respond to requests for comment.

Citi Bike representatives have not contacted Millman after their Aug. 28 conversation, she said.

The Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The “derelict lot” would be a “great size and shape for a Citi Bike location,” said Gary Reilly, a Carroll Gardens resident, who had also previously written to the DOT with the idea.

Since the land is privately owned, it would be an “unusual spot” for the DOT to consider but there are few other options for the paved strip of property, said Reilly, a Community Board 6 member, adding that the DOT has worked through projects despite challenges.

Reilly, who also cycles in the neighborhood, said he could see residents using Citi Bike to commute to Downtown Brooklyn or Midtown Manhattan and weekend crowds would be drawn to Smith Street, where there are several bars, restaurants and shops.

The Smith and Union corner is only a block away from the Carroll Street F/G subway station.

“It’s actually pretty well-tied... into the bike network,” he said.

Community Board 6, which includes Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Columbia Street Waterfront District, Gowanus, Park Slope and Red Hook, was scheduled for phase two of the Citi Bike roll-out, though a date for the expansion has not yet been set, Reilly said.

The closest Citi Bike stations to Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens are located at Atlantic Avenue and Henry Street, State and Smith streets and Bond and Schermerhorn streets. There are also terminals near the Barclays Center.

The DOT website states that “detailed site selection and planning work” continues for neighborhoods like Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights. 

A Citi Bike station map currently shows stations planned for Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

Despite the bike share’s absence, a number of bike lanes have been installed in South Brooklyn neighborhoods, including a planned 14-mile route for cyclists and pedestrian along the waterfront.

Both Smith and Union streets are “heavily used bike corridors,” said Dave “Paco” Abraham, chairman of Transportation Alternatives' Brooklyn Activist Committee, a bike advocacy group, and co-founder of StreetsPac, a political action committee dedicated to improving city streets.

The bike share program has been an “overwhelming success” and initial concerns have almost vanished, he said.

“Having the Citi Bike key fob is as important as a Metro Card in your wallet,” said Abraham, referring to a unique key that annual members can use for any available bike.

Citi Bike gives people an extra option, whether there’s other available transportation, or not, he said.

“You don’t have to be a biker to be a Citi Biker.”