Electric car manufacturer Tesla is quick to tout its environmental street cred — but it’s just another sidewalk-stealing, bike-lane-clogging bad neighbor to pedestrians and cyclists in Red Hook.
The Van Brunt Street dealership often leaves unsold Teslas on surrounding sidewalks, neighborhood resident Ben Duchac told Streetsblog. With the curb and sidewalk filled up, the truckers who deliver the vehicles wind up parking in Summit Street’s two-way bike lane, a key segment of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, Duchac said.
Worse, the dealership encourages patrons to use Red Hook’s industrial streets for test-runs. In June, one speeding Tesla customer came around the corner of Inlay Street and Summit Street so fast that the vehicle hopped the curb and crashed into a fence.
“Basically, they use that small strip as their parking lot, both in the sense of storing and demoing cars for test drivers and also for the constant in-and-out deliveries,” said Duchac, who lives on Van Brunt Street and bikes past the dealership every day to work. He said trucks block the bike lane outside of the Tesla dealership about half the time.
The situation is so bad that Duchac brought in the big guns: Council Member Carlos Menchaca and Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White. After the June crash, White said he tried to convince the store’s managers to address the problem. They refused, arguing that they couldn’t control the actions of delivery truck drivers.
“They have been extremely bad neighbors,” White said of the dealership, which opened in 2016. “Apparently, they are telling people just to open it up where the speed limit is 25 miles per hour. [It’s] completely inappropriate, especially right next to the greenway.”
On Tuesday, Duchac took his complaints to Twitter — and managed to get the attention of the 76th Precinct, which was on the scene by the afternoon.
“This is the first time it came on our radar,” 76th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Gonzalez told Streetblog. Gonzalez said he spoke to store management and told them the illegal parking has to stop.
Of course, Red Hook isn’t the only neighborhood where car dealerships treat precious sidewalk space as an on-street showroom. In fact, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district faces similar challenges on Northern Boulevard, has proposed legislation that would let the city revoke the licenses of dealerships who receive at least two parking violations in a single year.
“It’s never a good thing. It’s not something we want,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just not a good look for us, and it’s just not safe.”
Streetsblog reached out to the dealership and Tesla headquarters for comment, but did not receive a response.