By Paula Katinas
Bay Ridge — Instead of parking your car, how about parking your bike?
That’s the question being asked by leaders of the Merchants of Third Avenue business organization, who are behind a proposal to convert old, outdated parking meters along the shopping strip into bicycle racks.
“We’ve received a great response to this, probably one of the most enthusiastic responses we’ve received on any idea we’ve suggested,” said Bob Howe, a lawyer who is the president of the Merchants group.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has a program through which old parking meters are retrofitted to accommodate bikes, a process that turns parking spaces for cars into parking spaces for bikes.
The DOT has successfully retrofitted more than 150 meters into bike racks around the city in such neighborhoods as Park Slope, the Upper West Side, and Flushing, according to the agency’s website.
Howe and the Merchants of Third Avenue are hoping that Bay Ridge will be next on the DOT’s list.
“I sense that this is not a done deal. But it’s on our wish list,” Howe said.
The signs look good, according to Howe, who said it was a DOT representative who first brought up the subject in a conversation with him.
“We were talking about the installation of muni-meters on Third Avenue, along with the removal of the head and post of the old parking meters. I said, ‘Is there anything we can do with the old meter?’ And DOT said, ‘Well, we do have this program to turn them into bike racks.’ It sounded like a great idea, so I sent an e-mail to our merchants to see if there would be any interest in this,” Howe said.
Boy, there sure was!
“I got so many e-mails from our merchants. They not only wanted it, they were enthusiastic about it,” said Howe, who called the response “incredible.”
The owners of Ho’Brah Taco Joint, Gold Coast Delicatessen, and Bhodi Salon were among the merchants who replied to Howe’s e-mail.
There are precious few bike racks on Third Avenue, a shopping strip that stretches from Senator Street to 95th Street and contains more than 350 shops, restaurants and pubs.
“People have bikes tied to trees,” said Howe, who added that he believes shoppers will make use of the new retrofitted bike racks when they are installed. “The Greenhouse Café has a bike rack. I was walking by there the other day and they had 10 bikes in front of their place.”
Howe said the bike racks could help bring more business to the avenue.
“You won’t have to worry about finding a parking space for your car, you can just ride your bike to the avenue,” he said.
It’s also environmentally sound, Howe said.
“For each bike, there will be one less car whose fumes you have to breathe in,” he said.
Howe contacted Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, to find out how the Merchants of Third Avenue can apply for the DOT program.
Beckmann got right on it.
“I sent a request to DOT to retrofit 16 locations along Third Avenue,” she said. “I am hoping to hear back on this request in the next few weeks.”