Merchants: Bike lane is a retail pain

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A controversial pair of newly painted bike lanes are great for Williamsburg and Greenpoint bike riders, but they’re hurting Kent Avenue business owners.

Two weeks ago, the city eliminated all parking on both sides of the waterfront throughway between Quay and Clymer streets to make room for the cycling paths, but business owners say that the new parking restrictions have made commerce impossible.

“My customers come in cars and when there is no parking, they shop somewhere else,” said Justine Franko, owner of the furniture and home furnishings shop, Om Sweet Home, which is between North 10th and North 11th streets.

During a typically strong week in mid-November — when Franko could usually net between $1,500 and $2,000 — she earned only $200. She attributes the sudden decline to the lack of parking, not the ailing economy.

“I am mortified,” she said. “If things don’t change, I won’t last six months.”

David Reina — a manufacturer of machines that produce paper — said deliveries to his workshop, which is between Grand and North First streets, are now a challenge because of the new “no-stopping, no-standing zone” on Kent Avenue.

As a result, drivers can no longer idle curbside to deliver the raw metal that Reina sculpts into presses, he said. What’s good for pedalers is proving not to be good for peddlers.

“I used to be able to get my deliveries right in front, but now I have to go around the corner with a 20-foot piece of steel sticking off my forklift — that just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Even the biggest proponents of the bike lanes — which will eventually become part of a long-planned route from Greenpoint to Sunset Park — say that turning all of Kent Avenue into a no-standing zone wasn’t wise.

“The way that the Department of Transportation went around changing the signage on Kent Avenue was brainless,” said Teresa Toro, chair of the Community Board 1 Transportation Committee. “They took a blanket approach that you really shouldn’t do.”

Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Gastel said his agency is open to considering altering parking restrictions in certain cases.

The city has already made at least one such change, when it altered the no-parking, no-standing zone in front of the Zafir Jewish Learning Center for Special Education near the corner of South Eighth Street to allow school buses to pick-up and drop-off students.

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Reader Feedback

mitch from williamsburg says:
The DOT is not in contact with the local buisness or with the community they ignore our phone calls and they do whatever they want.
""""""long live king BLOOMBERG"""""
Nov. 19, 2008, 1:42 pm
jack from brooklyn says:
Nov. 19, 2008, 1:44 pm
Phenelope from williamsburg says:
I live on Kent Ave and the bike lanes have caused a huge problem for our street. I don't have a car, but according to the new rules---I must go a block and a half around the corner to catch a car service. Dragging a two year old and all my stuff.....
Nov. 20, 2008, 10:46 am
Steven from South Williamsburg says:
Why the world would they start the bike lanes in the beginning of a cold winter - when no one is biking (I live on Kent) mystifies me. They could've started in Spring at the very least.

Also, part of the plan was to identify and reclaim parking spots around Kent to make up the difference for lost parking - that's never happened.

What about one side of the street is bike lanes, the other is parking, and alternate between the two? Current implementation is just dumb, dumb, dumb. Even if you're pro-bike lanes, as I am.
Nov. 20, 2008, 3:14 pm
J from Clinton Hill says:
Please stop blaming declining business on bike lanes. This happened in Chelsea, Little Italy, and now in Williamsburg. The economy is in a RECESSION. People are shopping less. That is why businesses everywhere are hurting. Suggesting that bike lanes hurt businesses without any specific evidence, while the economy is tanking, is just irresponsible journalism.

Phenelope, I don't understand how you would have to walk more than a half block to catch a car service. There aren't any no stopping regulations on streets that intersect with Kent Ave. Therefore, even if you live in the middle of a block on Kent, the farthest you'd have to walk is a half a block. Are you lying to dramatize the situation?

The community board voted yes on this. If you want representation, do what every other New Yorker does and join the CB or at least go to the meetings. If you don't participate in government, you have no right to complain when it doesn't listen to you.
Nov. 26, 2008, 11:02 am

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