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More Bike Parking Could Replace Spots for Cars in Prospect Heights

 Four new bike corrals, like this one on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, have been proposed for Vanderbilt and Washington avenues in Prospect Heights.
Four new bike corrals, like this one on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, have been proposed for Vanderbilt and Washington avenues in Prospect Heights.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — A lot more bike parking may be on the way for Washington Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue if local business owners get their wish.

The owners of Bar Corvo on Washington Avenue, plus Bar Chuko, Milk Bar and Branded Saloon on Vanderbilt Avenue, have asked the Department of Transportation to install corrals outside each establishment that would replace a parking spot with multiple bike racks, the DOT said.

The proposals were approved by Community Board 8’s transportation committee in late June, the DOT said.

But the plans first reported by Brownstoner are not yet set in stone. Rather, they have to be approved by the full community board which will not meet again until September, the DOT said.

The eateries will each “sponsor” a corral, taking responsibility for their maintenance and upkeep, said Branded Saloon owner Gerard Kouwenhoven. He applied to have a corral installed after patrons and staff complained about the scarcity of legal spots to park a bike on the avenue.

Getting more bike parking is worth losing a parking spot, said Kouwenhoven, 39.

“I drive here, so I know how important that parking space can be,” he said. “But I also have 20 to 25 biking patrons and staff members every night that are trying to bring their bike into the restaurant. They’re hiding them in the stairwell. They don’t know what to do with their bikes.”

Some local drivers said the corrals would make their parking search harder, including Prospect Heights resident and home improvement contractor Aaron Gruenberg, 55.

"Corrals take parking away from service providers who need it during the day when street cleaning and teacher parking rules are in effect,” he said by email.

“The bars who demand them do the bulk of their business at night. Why should drinkers have free parking right in front of their favorite bar?”

Gruenberg voiced his opinion at an informal forum on the bike corrals held at Branded in May, which Kouwenhoven organized to “reach out to the community and give them a heads up on what we were thinking about doing."

The DOT had advised him to do so, he said, in part because of challenges the agency faced in setting up other corrals nearby, including on Franklin Avenue where anger flared last year after a bike corral appeared in front of the coffee shop Little Zelda.

”We hit the pavement and went through the neighborhood and talked to everyone we could,” Kouwenhoven said. So far, he added, he’s met very few people who oppose the idea.

The owners of Bar Corvo, Bar Chuko and Milk Bar did not immediately respond to inquiries about the corrals.

Community Board 8 must vote on the bike corral proposal before it is implemented. The next full CB8 board meeting will be held Thursday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at a to-be-determined location.