Citi Bike on Duane continues to cause troubles for businesses

In a classic case of bureaucracy getting in the way of policy, no progress has been made on the Citi Bike station on Duane, even after a Department of Transportation rep was on a Zoom call with CB1 and neighbors to address the issue. And I had to switch from Diet Coke to wine just to listen.

The Transportation Committee meeting stretched to four hours overall, and it was not until three hours in — after a hours-long presentation on fictional proposals for the Brooklyn Bridge — that the committee allowed residents to discuss the issues on Duane, where the station impedes curbside spaces for two restaurants. Already Tokyo Bay has closed permanently — partly as a result — and The Hideaway is barely able to eke out an existence despite getting 1300 people to sign a petition in support. (The just-now announcement of indoor dining starting Sept. 30 could help move the needle, but likely not at 25 percent…)

“This is a really big issue. I am not saying New York City does not have bigger fish to fry, but in this neighborhood these are our friends and our neighbors,” said Karie Davidson speaking for the Friends of Duane Park and clearly pushed to frustration by both the DOT and CB1. By that hour — 3:12 into the meeting — seven of her fellow members had left the call. “The DOT has pushed itself beyond community consultation and we are relying on you to say put a pause on Citi Bike locations where the community has not been properly consulted.”

The city has said it will not move street furniture — including Citi Bike stations — in support of its own Open Restaurants program, which the mayor also promised would come back next summer. To make matters worse, DOT called Duane Street business owners earlier this summer to warn them that it was expanding the station, triggering a panic for Duane Park Patisserie especially, since an expanded dock would take away their curbside cafe. Meanwhile the Friends of Duane Park has lobbied to get the city to move the dock to Greenwich, where it could easily fit in front of the former Best Market space.

“We are struggling,” said Madeline Lanciani, who owns Duane Park Patisserie. “We need all the opportunities we can to stay alive for the next three months, four months, six months. We don’t know when this will end. The Citi Bike station should be moved to give Hideaway a chance for survival. I can’t believe the city wants to intentionally put small businesses out of business. That’s why I have sat here for three hours.”

The city comptroller has already announced that 1,200 restaurants in the city have closed already and experts predict there are more closures to come. (I also feel obliged to note that not everyone in the neighborhood supports the lively action on Duane. There have also been complaints about the crowds, the noise and the garbage on the street. But folks have to be a bit tolerant. No bar owner *wants* to run a business in the street.)

The committee also asked about the station on Liberty and Broadway that has disappeared (no explanation from DOT,  though there is now a station on Liberty and Nassau) and unfortunately no one addressed the station on Warren and Church, which has yet to be restored now that construction is finished.

One of the final words was from CB1 chair Tammy Meltzer, who asked that the DOT sit down with the board to take a closer look at stations and do a master plan. “We support Citi Bike. We look for expansion,” she said. “But it has to be in conjunction with working with the community.”

Citi Bike on Duane continues to cause troubles for businesses