ANDREW BARWICK, a 25-year-old architect who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, was biking to work one day a few weeks ago on Kent Avenue, along the Williamsburg waterfront, at what he recalled as “a pretty good clip.”
As a result, he had little time to react when a sedan from a car service making a left turn cut him off, sending him sailing over his handlebars and onto the ground.
Mr. Barwick and the driver of the sedan shouted back and forth, he said, after which the driver headed off, but not before a construction worker noted the license number and the sticker from the car’s employer: Northside Car Service, on nearby Bedford Avenue.
Mr. Barwick, who, as it turned out, had fractured a collarbone and an elbow, decided not to press charges. He did, however, stop by Northside’s office, where, both sides agree, the driver and a manager of the car service apologized. The car service also paid the portion of Mr. Barwick’s medical expenses that were not covered by health insurance.
That might have been the end of it, except for the fact that Northside, which is based near the heart of Williamsburg, has a long history of tension with Community Board 1, which represents the area.
According to Teresa Toro, the chairwoman of the board’s transportation committee, complaints about the car service date back years and include dangerous driving, excessive horn-honking and parking at bus stops. In 2005, the board wrote the company a stern letter and met with its management, she said, but the complaints continued.
“Consistently, when people complain about reckless behavior, or just rude behavior, bad neighbor behavior, it seems to be Northside Car and Limo,” Ms. Toro said, adding that the board was trying to arrange a meeting with the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission to discuss the matter.
Northside’s license was renewed in May, and Matthew Daus, the commissioner of the taxi agency, said the community board did not object during the process. Nevertheless, he said, “we will work with C.B. 1’s transportation committee and Northside to ensure that they are the good neighbors we all expect them to be.”
Galo Bermello, the Northside manager who answered the telephone on Tuesday at the company’s office, acknowledged that relations with the neighborhood were tense, but said that at least six other car services have offices within a mile of Northside, each with about 200 cars at its disposal. Northside has about 300 cars, with independent drivers who own their vehicles and pay the agency $100 a week to field calls.
“You can’t just blame all of that on us, just because we’re one of the biggest,” Mr. Bermello said.
In response, Ms. Toro said that the great majority of the complaints are about Northside, not the other companies.
Mr. Bermello said that his drivers follow all state and local rules, adding that they have it hard too.
“She can only hear what other people say,” he said of Ms. Toro. “She’s not in a vehicle, she’s not a driver, she doesn’t know the daily hassles that drivers have to go through seven days a week, some of them working 12-hour days.”
The concerns of the community board have brought the company some unwelcome attention, he acknowledged, but he said that business was sound. A television reporter recently inquired about a rumored local boycott of the business, Mr. Bermello said, adding, “While he was talking to us, I had all my 10 lines ringing.”