By SUSAN EDELMAN
There she goes again.
Undaunted by criticism of her pedestrian plazas and bike lanes, city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is rolling out another pet project: “pop-up cafés” erected in gutters, traffic lanes and parking spots.
The Department of Transportation has green-lighted 12 applications by Manhattan and Brooklyn eateries to build 6-foot-wide wooden platforms alongside the curbs of city streets.
Café tables and chairs, like those in Times Square, would be set up inches from moving traffic, with planters serving as buffers. Open to anyone, people could order food from sponsoring eateries, or just sit and not buy anything. Booze and smoking would be forbidden
The scheme is revving up just days after Sadik-Khan ditched a widely denounced plan to block traffic on 34th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues for a pedestrian mall.
This time, Sadik-Khan says DOT won’t foist the makeshift public areas on neighborhoods, like she did with bike lanes, but will let community boards bless or veto each one.
“No one’s here to force this on anybody,” DOT planner Ed Janoff told a crowd at a meeting of Community Board 2’s transportation committee last week.
But many SoHo residents fear just that. They blasted the “harebrained idea” — modeled after similar cafes in San Francisco, Nova Scotia and Florence, Italy and tested successfully last summer in front of Fika Espresso and Bombay’s Indian restaurant on Pearl Street in the Financial District.
“The DOT is trying to do an end-run around zoning rules” that ban sidewalk cafes in SoHo, said SoHo Alliance executive director Sean Sweeney. “We don’t want outdoor dining or public plazas in our neighborhood!”
Community Board 2’s committee recommended six of seven applications in Greenwich Village and SoHo. It also agreed to require the pop-ups to close at 9 p.m., although DOT would let them stay open until midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends.
Besides extra noise, crowds and rats scurrying for dropped food, residents said the curbside cafes might be dangerous.
“If a driver happens to be texting, he could slam into a cafe at 35 to 40 mph,” said Maury Schott, chairman of the sidewalks committee, who noted that some cafes would protrude into the street where no parking is allowed.
Restaurants and other shops would have to buy insurance, as well as pay to design, construct, furnish and maintain the pop-ups.
Vittorio Antonini, owner of La Lanterna, a trattoria on MacDougal Street in the Village, joined with Tea Spot next door to apply for a 60-foot-long pop-up. He estimated it will seat 20 and cost $10,000. Because of a bike lane across the street, the cafés would force cars to
squeeze into a single narrow lane.
Grub street: City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has green-lighted up to 12 “pop-up cafes” — public areas with tables and chairs built in the streets. Community boards have final approval. Applicants include:
Tea Spot, 127 MacDougal St.
La Lanterna, 129 MacDougal St.
* Chez Jacqueline, 72 MacDougal St.
* Le Pain Quotidien, 10 Fifth Ave.
* Salume, 330 West Broadway
* Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, 126 Crosby St.
* Le Rivage, 340 W. 46th St.
* Le Pain Quotidien, 708 3rd Ave.
* Le Pain Quotidien, 922 Seventh Ave.
* Ecopolis Café, 180 Smith St., Brooklyn