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Officials Vow to Fix Columbus Ave. Bike Lane Problems

By Leslie Albrecht | February 7, 2011 6:35am | Updated on February 7, 2011 7:01am

By Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE — With merchants complaining that Columbus Avenue's new bike lanes are hurting their bottom lines, local officials on Sunday announced a list of fixes that they say will make the lanes work for businesses and bikers alike.

Borough President Scott Stringer, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and Community Board 7 Chair Mel Wymore unveiled the recommendations along with the results of a survey that asked Columbus Avenue merchants how the bike lanes have affected their business.

The verdict: a resounding thumbs down, with 72 percent of surveyed businesses saying the new bike lanes, which run from West 96th Street to West 77th Street, have had a negative impact. 

Businesses complained that the bike lanes — part of a street redesign that added pedestrian islands, turn lanes and landscaping to Columbus Avenue — have made deliveries difficult and parking a pain in the neck.

Ivan Jourdain, the owner of Ivan Pharmacy at Columbus Avenue and West 94th Street, said some of his longtime customers gave up and went elsewhere to get their prescriptions filled because it was so difficult to find parking.

"The loss of business was immediate," Jourdain said, adding that his profits took a 25 percent hit following the installation of the new lanes.

To fix those and other problems, Stringer and the other officials delivered a set of 10 recommendations to the Department of Transportation, including asking that some lost parking spots be restored.

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a letter that she agrees with many of the recommendations. DOT says it wll restore some parking spots and reduce the hours for commercial loading, which should make it easier for customers to find parking.

The Columbus Avenue bike lanes have been a hot-button issue on the Upper West Side — as have other lanes across the city — since they were installed last August, prompting fierce debates at Community Board 7 meetings.

Wymore, the board chair, said officials surveyed businesses so they could collect facts, not hearsay, about the bike lanes.

"Bike lanes tend to bring out emotion in people," Wymore said. "What we did in this case is move beyond emotion and ideology and get to the facts."