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Starving small businesses: Shopkeepers blast city’s new traffic regulations on Flatbush Avenue

Bad for business: Joe and Victoria Butrico, who own Flatbush Avenue’s Allstar Locksmith and Hardware, blasted the city for taking away parking along the corridor.
Brooklyn Paper
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This traffic plan leaves the little guy in the dust.

Flatbush Avenue mom-and-pops are already suffering after the city nixed parking on a stretch of the commercial corridor last week in a scheme officials claim will calm congestion, because the loss of curb space complicates deliveries at many shops and leaves patrons with less spots to pull up outside them.

“For us and trucks trying to make deliveries, it’s impossible — we prepare our food fresh daily, if we can’t get deliveries on time it creates a problem,” said Greg Yerman, who runs Burrito Bar and Kitchen on Flatbush Avenue between Park and Prospect Places. “Small businesses are shunned once again.”

Last Monday, the Department of Transportation installed “no standing” signs on both sides of the thoroughfare from Tillary Street in America’s Downtown to Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Heights, which prohibit parking from 7 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 7 pm on weekdays. The new regulations expand on previous restrictions, which forbade parking on the Downtown-bound side of Flatbush Avenue during the morning hours and within the evening window on the Prospect Heights–bound side.

The increased regulations are part of a six-month pilot program Mayor DeBlasio introduced under his so-called Congestion Action Plan, an initiative announced last fall that he claims will reduce traffic throughout the five boroughs.

The Transportation Department also cut one-hour metered parking from 10 am to 4 pm to create loading-only zones for trucks along three large swathes of Flatbush Avenue, which include the Downtown-bound side between Prospect and Park places, and the Prospect Heights–bound side between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place as well as between Park and Sterling places.

But the dedicated loading zones make it even harder for car-using customers to find spots outside stores, according to a local business booster, who argued that eliminating all of that parking for such a large chunk of the day is excessive.

“Our businesses deserve to have loading zones, it just seems odd. These are fairly substantial curb links,” said James Ellis, executive director of the North Flatbush Business Improvement District. “Maybe we don’t need that full block.”

And the many in-progress construction projects along Flatbush Avenue only add insult to injury for shopkeepers mourning the loss of parking — especially because the jobs may be what caused increased traffic on the road in the first place, according to another business owner.

“They’ve been doing construction lately so maybe really it’s the construction that makes the congestion,” said Joe Butrico, who runs Allstar Locksmith and Hardware on Flatbush Avenue between Prospect and Park places. “If you can’t park, it’s not good for business. Plain and simple.”

The store owners and Ellis fully conceded to the street’s congestion problems, but criticized DeBlasio’s program as a quick fix that doesn’t solve anything and suggested the city instead focus its time and effort on enforcing the existing rules of the road.

“It’s symptomatic of this administration creating new regulations instead of enforcing what’s already on the books,” Ellis said. “We by no means thought of congestion as a non-issue, especially on Flatbush Avenue, but we’re bothered how quickly they wanted to implement this, how it’s hitting the local stakeholders, and why they’re piloting a program on its effectiveness in an area that’s already disrupted.”

The pilot initiative’s restrictions don’t affect mom-and-pops on Flatbush Avenue Extension between Fulton and Tillary streets as much as they do businesses further down the road, because parking along that stretch of the street is already more regulated, according to Community Board 2’s district manager, Rob Perris.

But overall, the six-month crackdown on curb use is reminiscent of the much-maligned changes the city made to a stretch of Fulton Street last year, when it installed dedicated bus lanes that shopkeepers in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill blasted as bad for business.

A report on how the restrictions along Flatbush Avenue impact congestion, double parking, deliveries, and curb-regulation compliance on the road will be released this fall, following the pilot program’s culmination, according to the Transportation Department.

DeBlasio’s Congestion Action Plan also calls for amped-up enforcement to keep traffic flowing at intersections across the city, including five in Kings County, at Flatbush and Eighth avenues, Atlantic and Pennsylvania avenues, 86th Street and Seventh Avenue, Tillary and Jay streets, and Flatbush and Myrtle avenues, according to information from the agency.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:47 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Rufus Leaking from BH says:
What's the difference between "Traffic Calming" and a traffic jam?

A $2,000,000. "study".
March 26, 7:46 am
Rufus from BH says:
What's the difference between "Me" and a pile of dog excrement?

Nothing!
March 26, 8:08 am
BrooklynGersh from The WT says:
Surprisingly under-reported story from the usually great Julianne Cuba. It seems to me that Flatbush Avenue is typically clogged by double-parked cars and trucks during the morning and evening rush hours, which inflames drivers, ruins vehicle flow and lowers productivity for thousands of people.

Deliveries should be done before and after the morning rush, which these regulations will encourage.

If these new rules are coupled with metered parking on the side streets during set hours, there will be plenty of parking for those customers who insist on driving to the locksmith (as if!).

But to be clear: Anything that allows Flatbush to function properly as an artery for cars and buses should be encouraged.
March 26, 9:03 am
Florence Weintraub from Windsor Terrace says:
A map would have helped clarify all this
March 26, 9:13 am
Tyler from pps says:
It's almost like these business owners (a) don't know who their customers are, (b) haven't figured out how to deal with deliveries and the value of loading zones, or (c) are annoyed they can't park their own car directly outside the shop.
March 26, 11:02 am
Ken from Brooklyn says:
Morris from Mill Basin says: i would tip off the FBI to do offical visit at your apartment.
March 26, 2:34 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Take it and like it - your betters have spoken. What do you know about running your business?
March 26, 3:44 pm
Henry from Prospect Heights says:
The small business owners probably spend their money on big businesses to save money. Anyway, sympathy is waning.
March 26, 4:43 pm
Frank from Furter says:
I agree that traffic sucks. But we are destroying what ever is left of neighborhoods and their main streets. The mom and pops store are replaced by chains and removing parking so that cars can use the street to get to downtown or Manhattan isn't the answer either. And changing how deliveries are made takes time and better planning.
March 27, 10:30 am
Frank from Furter says:
Metered parking isn't free. To make sure you get turnover and that it isn't used by the merchant or it's employees make it $3 per hour..
March 27, 10:46 am
Frank from Furter says:
Last point..why do they need it on both side of the street in the am and pm? We just finally after 20 years of fighting about it removed the no standing 4 to 7 on the South side of Atlantic ave..didn't the dot learn anything from that fight?
March 27, 10:56 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I like traffic. Drivers deserve it. Can you imagine how insane you have to be to get in your car and drive to Flatbush Avenue and park to go to the locksmith?
March 27, 12:49 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Brooklyn Paper -- I wonder what would happen if you went to these businesses and said, "Oh, you are more than welcome to say something positive if you'd like. We'll still print a big photo of your business."
March 27, 3:46 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
You anti-car fanatics really don't get it. Many of these businesses rely on customers with motor vehicles. Perhaps, if some of you took the time to talk to them, you would understand why they are opposed to such an idea. I really suggest you try looking at the causes of the opposition rather than the effects for once. Meanwhile, taking away the parking especially when it's metered would be a huge loss for the city considering the revenues made off of them.
March 27, 4:48 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Actually making it no standing increases the income. NY CITY collects about 200 million in meter fees but collects over 500 million in parking ticket fines. It takes a lot of quarters to equal one $135.00 parking ticket.
March 27, 5:41 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Tal,

No they don't.
March 28, 11:53 am
ANTHONY from PARK SLOPE says:
TRAILERS GET TICKETS MAKING DELIVERIES EVERY DAY IN FRONT OF SHAKE SHACK.
NYC INSTALLED "NO STANDING " ALL THE TIME

THIS IS NOT PRACTICAL NOR REASONABLE
BUSINESSES INVEST MONEY TO IMPROVE FLATBUSH AVENUE. PLEASE TELL ME HOW THE CITY JUSTIFIES THIS . PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW SHAKE SHACK CAN GET DELIVERIES WITHOUT BEING PENALIZED. I DO NOT WORK FOR SHAKE SHACK OR ANY AFFILIATION. JUST A CONCERNED BUSINESSMAN. TOTALLY STUPID !!!
May 17, 12:19 pm

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