July 8, 2022 By Christian Murray (updated)
Council Member Bob Holden is calling for the firing of Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia arguing that she fails to listen to the concerns of residents and shows contempt for local civic organizations.
Holden’s call for Garcia’s ousting comes at a time when the DOT is working on installing 52 Citi Bike stations in Middle Village and Maspeth, both neighborhoods he represents.
The council member has been critical of the agency for not properly notifying his constituents about the Middle Village/Maspeth plan, and then failing to work with civic groups—such as Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) —in terms of where the stations should be installed.
The JPCA, which has embraced the Citi Bike expansion, has been calling on the DOT to place the stations on sidewalks—as opposed to on the street—as a means to preserve parking spaces. Christina Wilkinson, secretary of the association, put together a detailed plan as to where the proposed street stations could be moved to avoid the loss of parking.
The DOT rejected these calls last month, prompting criticism from Holden. (click for JPCA proposal and DOT response)
“Garcia’s Queens DOT shows nothing but contempt for local civic organizations in middle-class neighborhoods, particularly in their refusal to seriously consider requests regarding Citi Bike installations,” Holden said.
The councilmember argues that the Queens DOT is not sincere when it says it wants community feedback.
“Garcia’s Queens DOT makes a dog and pony show out of asking for community input and then throws it in the gutter. Lyft’s Citi Bike program continues to gobble up parking spaces badly needed by hardworking New Yorkers, like a giant corporate PAC MAN who refuses to hear the reasonable requests of middle-class neighborhoods in favor of the fanatical anti-car movement and a corporation with a vested interest in getting New Yorkers to give up owning cars.”
Holden said that many neighborhoods in Queens desperately need parking spaces and have little use for renting bicycles, including seniors, families with children and the disabled.
“Lyft’s Citi Bike agenda lacks any regard for those New Yorkers and has no interest in inclusivity. The DOT should stand up for these New Yorkers and stop doing Lyft’s bidding. One of the great things about living in New York City, particularly in Queens, is that every neighborhood has its own character. The Queens DOT denies this unique diversity by forcing a one-size fits all approach to bike stations across the city.”
He said it’s time for the Queens DOT to turn a page and advocate for its residents. He said the agency also has a history of denying requests for stop signs, speed bumps and other traffic safety measures in his district that would keep his constituents safe.
“The Queens DOT can only move our borough toward a safer future with a new commissioner who will listen to community feedback and respond swiftly to the needs of Queens taxpayers.”
But the DOT stands by Garcia, saying that she has done exemplary work while being in charge of the Queens office. The agency says she has been responsible for many innovative changes that have increased safety.
“Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia and the Queens office have shepherded some of the City’s most exciting and innovative projects in recent years, bringing historic improvements to bus service, new pedestrian plazas and other entirely new street designs that have made the diverse streets of the World’s Borough safer and more vibrant for all residents,” said DOT spokesperson Vin Barone.
Barone also said that the Queens office does listen to the community in terms of where Citi Bike stations should be located.
“An exemplary public official, Borough Commissioner Garcia and her office have given careful and detailed consideration to community feedback on Citi Bike siting – and we stand by her work.”