Free Parking is an Affront to ‘History’
In a story in the Local titled “Washington Park Residents: Bike Share is an Affront to ‘History,’” just one Washington Park resident is quoted as saying anything of the sort:
“The [kiosk is] much too large and out of place for [this block],” said Wyatt Cheek, who lives on Washington Park. “We just want it to be at a location that doesn’t interfere with [residents].”
The main objection on the block appears to be aesthetic, with residents complaining about the program’s bright blue, bank-logo–covered kiosks.
“The notion of having Citi Bike logos … will go against the [landmark] character,” said Mr. Cheek.
The truth of the matter is that by the standard raised by this lone resident, very little of what appears on Fort Greene streets fits the historic aesthetic. I biked through the area on my way home from work on Friday and quickly found examples of vehicles that are wildly out of sync with the brownstone character of this park block.
I’m willing to bet that this van, as much as ad for its owners business as it is a means of transportation, prompted no calls to 311 or the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Granted, the van itself is not a permanent fixture, but the parking space is; what comes in and out of it fits or does not fit the historic aesthetic to varying degrees that change with each alternate side parking day. This van could very well be replaced by a Model T from some automobile enthusiast’s collection, but it could also be replaced by the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile.
Remember, bike share stations interfere with the neighborhood’s historic character, but a 1993 POS laden with bumper stickers is in keeping with brownstone Brooklyn’s historic aesthetic, so long as your history only dates back to the Clinton administration.
The truth is that our city streets are lined with dozens upon dozens of corporate logos, from the Chevrolet bowtie to Audi’s four rings. Granted, none may seem quite as in your face as a big batch of blue bikes, but the cumulative effect of so many small logos on a neighborhood’s character is arguably the same, if historic accuracy is your thing. I guess it all depends on your point of view; I happen to think that the symmetry of a bike share station filled with bikes is aesthetically pleasing.
Calling bike share stations — or, for that matter, bike lanes — and affront to history ignores the ever-changing nature of our streets and is, I suspect, largely a cover for despair over the loss of private automobile storage on public land. What really takes parking spaces away from good, honest Brooklyn motorists is not the occasional bike share station or traffic calming project, but cars with out-of-state plates, which made up approximately ten percent of the cars parked near the park when I rode by. And I’m willing to bet that most of them did not belong to people just visiting for the weekend.