Businesses: Bike Lanes Slow Deliveries

Cyclists in bike laneMariya Abedi Some East Village business owners say that recently installed bike lanes are adversely affecting their deliveries.

New bike lanes may be a welcome sight for cyclists in the East Village, but after two months they’re still not going over well with some small businesses.

When transportation officials placed bike lanes between the sidewalk and a parking zone, they separated delivery trucks from direct access to many local stores. Some business owners say they’re having more difficulties with deliveries as a result.

The Department of Transportation has begun installing loading zones but even that step may not completely solve the problem.

Jim Doria owns the ACE Hardware store on First Avenue near East Third Street, which faces one loading zone. He said that it still creates problems for deliveries.

“They never came to analyze the impact it would have on any of the local businesses as far as getting deliveries, receiving deliveries or the safety of the businesses to cross over a bike lane with merchandise to get to a loading zone to bring merchandise back and forth,” Mr. Doria said of transportation officials.

Many delivery trucks on other streets are forced to double-park and that means they get tickets. That has had a serious affect on deliveries at the appliance store Gringer and Sons, which is on First Avenue near East Second Street.

“I was notified by one of my trucking companies they’re going to raise my rates because they’re getting 10 to 12 more tickets a week,” said Allan Schuster, the store manager at Gringer and Sons. “It was really rare that they would get a ticket when we didn’t have the bike lane. Once in a while, they’d get a ticket. But now they get a ticket every time.”

Helen Bala is the manager of the Little Village Postal Service, whose business revolves around making deliveries.

“I just have a lot of issues with deliveries getting in because now you can’t park in that space, and the drivers don’t like that they have to sometimes circle three or four times, which now makes some of our deliveries late,” she said.

Skateboarder in a bike laneMariya Abedi Cyclists aren’t the only ones using the new bike lanes.

District Manager Susan Stetzer said that city officials contacted every business that might be affected by the bike lanes and suggested that upset owners notify the Community Board of their complaints.

“We work with this division of DOT and follow up with any issues,” she said. “If the Community Board is not aware of an issue, it cannot help.”

Bike lanes have increased safety, according to transportation officials. In a statement, officials said that there has been “a 50 percent decrease in injuries to all street users since this lane was installed.”

But business owners along First Avenue question the official statistics.

“I see that they put traffic lights up for the bikers, which cost the city a fortune, but they go right through them,” Mr. Schuster said. “I just feel at some particular point, there’s going to be a major accident and someone is going to get terribly hurt or killed.”

Ms. Bala has witnessed several close calls that her customers have had with cyclists and said that the safety rules regarding bike lanes need to be strictly enforced.

“There are bicyclists going the wrong way, they’re across the street, they’re not on it or they’re on the sidewalk,” Ms. Bala said.

Andrew Crooks, the owner of the bike shop NYC Velo on Second Avenue near East Fourth Street, believes the lanes are a positive addition to the East Village, which is not easily accessed by public transportation.

“I think the ones that are using it are safer and it’s not only safer for them, but I think it helps assist traffic flow and again, the organization of the car lanes,” he said.

He said education is a vital aspect of getting people to understand how to use the roadway.

“People have suggested a public service announcement or something like that informing both cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists of how to use the bike lane,” Mr. Crooks said. “Then I think we’d see some better long-term success.”

To contact Community Board 3 about requesting a loading zone or any other issues, call 212-533-5300 or email them at The transportation committee is scheduled to meet next month to permit school bus loading and unloading.

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