Merchants: Bike lane is a retail pain

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.