By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — The ticketing blitz against Central Park cyclists isn't just slowing down bikes — some cycling businesses say it's putting the brakes on their bottom lines.
Shane Hall, manager of Bicycle Renaissance on Columbus Avenue and West 81s Street, told Community Board 7 Monday night that he's losing business because ticket-fearing cyclists are avoiding Central Park.
Other bikes shops that rely on Central Park cyclists made similar complaints to DNAinfo.
Police have issued more than 230 tickets to Central Park cyclists this year, for violations such as running red lights even when the park is closed to cars. Last week, NYPD had to issue an apology to several cyclists in the park for wrongfully issuing them speeding tickets.
The stepped-up enforcement has rankled the cycling community, who say police are unfairly targeting bikers. Police issued 160 summonses to motorists during all of 2010.
Hall's customers first started to grumble about the police crackdown in January, including one man in his 60s who said he was slapped with a $270 ticket for not stopping at a red light as he puttered along on a single-speed beach cruiser.
As the weather warmed, Hall's customers told him they'd rather avoid the park altogether than risk a pricey ticket.
Hall said many of his customers stop off at Bicycle Renaissance to grab a Power Bar or a tire patching kit as they head into Central Park. Those are small items, said Hall, but those same customers sometimes linger to check out cycling shoes or bikes.
"We've noticed that a lot of our regular weekend customers aren't coming in," Hall said. "We're a block from the park, so we see these riders a lot. When I don’t see these riders coming in, I know my business is being affected."
Instead, said Hall, cyclists are heading over the George Washington Bridge for day trips out of town. "My business is going to New Jersey," Hall said.
Estella Carreno, owner of Eddie's Bicycle Shop on Amsterdam Avenue and West 84th Street, said some customers have told her they won't be bringing their bike in for a tune-up, because they'd rather keep their bikes at home than deal with the potential hassle of a ticket, Carreno said.
"Now the only customers are delivery guys," Carreno said.
Leo Ventura, manager of Innovation Bike Shop on West 106th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, said his bike rentals and sales have both taken a hit.
"They say until the situation in the park is resolved, they don't want to rent," Ventura said. "They don't want to get a ticket for $200 and change, and people who are thinking about buying bikes are waiting."
Some bike shops farther from Central Park said they hadn't noticed an effect on business since the ticketing blitz, but all said that cyclists were angry.
"I wouldn't say business has slowed, but there are a lot more complaints and a lot more petitions on the counter," said Ben Wentzel, a sales associate at Larry's Bicycles Plus on Second Avenue and East 87th Street.
But Wentzel said it's increasingly common for customers to ask about cycling spots other than Central Park. If cyclists peddle out of town, it could affect business down the road, Wentzel said.
Metro Bicycles on Lexington Avenue and East 88th Street has seen sales of specific merchandise improve since the crackdown on cyclists.
"Sales of lights and bells are way up, because that’s what they're ticketing," said Nick, an assistant manager at the store.