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Columbus Avenue Business Owners Say Bikes Lanes Are Driving Down Bottom Lines

By Leslie Albrecht | November 9, 2010 6:48am | Updated on November 9, 2010 6:50am
Business owners along Columbus Avenue say new bike lanes are making it difficult for trucks to make deliveries.
Business owners along Columbus Avenue say new bike lanes are making it difficult for trucks to make deliveries.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

By Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE — Angry business owners delivered a truckload of complaints about Columbus Avenue's new bike lanes to Community Board 7 Monday night, saying the lanes are driving down their bottom lines.

During a heated meeting that had both sides of the bike lane debate trading verbal barbs, merchants told Community Board 7's transportation committee that trucks can't make deliveries because the new bike lanes have gobbled up too many parking spaces.

The new lanes have removed 67 parking spaces from Columbus Avenue, a Department of Transportation official said at Monday's meeting. DOT originally told Community Board 7 the new lanes would eat up only 55 spots.

New bike lanes along Columbus Avenue have taken away some parking spots and narrowed traffic lanes.
New bike lanes along Columbus Avenue have taken away some parking spots and narrowed traffic lanes.
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Department of Transportation

Bob Schweitzer, owner of Schweitzer Linen on Columbus Avenue between West 81st and West 82nd Street, said even a five-minute delay in deliveries hurts him and other business owners.

"There's nothing wrong with bike lanes, but it will come at a cost," Schweitzer said. "And most of that cost will be borne by merchants and by everybody else down the line."

Barbara Adler, executive director of the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District, said she'd been a staunch supporter of the bike lanes, but called the way the lanes were configured and the loss of parking spots a "travesty."

Adler said she's been flooded with e-mails about problems related to the bike lanes, which she said had removed all of the parking spots from the east side of Columbus Avenue between West 81st and West 82nd Street.

"We like bike lanes because they add to the quality of life, but they need to be done right," Adler said.

Cyclists have hailed the new lanes — a green strip that runs southbound along the eastern edge of Columbus Avenue from 96th Street to 77th Street — as a safety improvement that makes commuting by bike easier than ever.

The lane is known as a "protected" bike lane because a row of parked cars sits between cyclists and moving traffic and acts as a buffer.

Several cyclists showed up at Monday's meeting, but Community Board 7 members said they only wanted to hear complaints about the new lanes, not praise.

"We're not here to hear how wonderful the bike lanes are," said Community Board 7 member Dan Zweig. "We're looking to hear specific problems so DOT can solve them."

Zweig said cyclists will get a chance to defend the lanes at Community Board 7's full board meeting, Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at St. Luke's -Roosevelt Hospital Center, 1000 Tenth Ave. at West 59th Street.