As the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) looks to roll out a carsharing pilot program in a host of Queens communities, one local lawmaker has told the agency to hit the brakes on its plan for Ridgewood.
After DOT representatives presented their carshare pilot plan at the June Community Board 5 (CB 5) Transportation and Public Transit meeting, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, outlining her opposition to the plan, specifically citing that she was not briefed, or even informed of the plan, before it was presented.
“This proposal will severely impact my community and I was not even given notice, let alone a discussion of the serious issues involved, before it was made public,” she wrote in the July 10 letter.
To some, it seems as though Nolan’s letter had a convincing effect on the DOT. Links to the Ridgewood carsharing plan have been removed from DOT’s feedback portal. The portal allows residents to make suggestions on where they would like to see the carsharing spots located.
It is not known, however, if Nolan’s opposition to the plan had anything to do with the neighborhood’s removal from the website.
“I have several concerns about the inclusion of Ridgewood in the carshare pilot program,” Nolan said in a statement. “It is already very difficult to find parking in our Ridgewood community and taking away many spots would be counterproductive. In addition, allowing a private car share company to use portions of the public street could be perceived as subsidy of that company at the taxpayers’ expense. I have recently met with Commissioner Trottenberg and representatives of the NYC Department of Transportation to share these concerns and I look forward to continuing this conversation as we talk through these very important issues. I remain open to a limited pilot program but want more community input. We need to hear from residents of Ridgewood as to how they feel.”
A DOT spokesperson has confirmed that they are moving ahead with other carshare locations, as they continue to discuss the pilot program with Ridgewood shareholders.
The plan aims to use dedicated on-street parking for carshare vehicles — such as Zipcar, Car2Go and Enterprise Carshare — in the hopes that residents will begin using these cars and either give up their personal vehicle or postpone purchasing a vehicle.
DOT examined carshare pilot programs from other cities across the country and found that over time, people did give up their personal cars or held off on the purchase of a vehicle. The agency also charges that since less people own cars after using the carshare program, more parking spaces would be available for residents who do own cars.
The pilot program in Ridgewood would require DOT to use 10 parking spots in the area bordered by Woodbine Street, Myrtle Avenue, St. Felix Avenue and Irving Avenue, for the carshare vehicles at five different locations, of which residents could go on the DOT website and select the best places for them.
This is what has Nolan worried. The assemblywoman would rather see the carshare vehicles stored at an off-street facility rather than on the streets of her district.
“I am concerned that a private car share company would use public city street parking spots,” Nolan told the DOT in her original letter. “This would create a situation where a private company would be subsidized at the taxpayers’ expense. I would propose to require these car sharing companies to provide their own off-street parking like other automobile, rental or car service companies.”