NEW YORK CITY — The city's Department of Transportation doled out roughly 6,500 tickets to restaurants over issues with their bike delivery messengers between April 2013 and August 2014 — with the most fines going to Domino's Pizza, according to data obtained by DNAinfo New York.
The ubiquitous pizza franchise racked up 58 violations at sites across the city and paid $7,000 in penalties, according to statistics released by the Department of Transportation.
The chain was amongst the thousands of businesses fined since the start of the the DOT's Commercial Bicycle Unit team, which is tasked with upholding 2013 commercial bicycle safety rules launched in a bid to rein in out-of-control delivery bikers.
The unit's six inspectors ticketed more than 2,800 businesses — for a total of $754,300 in fines — between April 22, 2013 and August 28, 2014, data show.
The Domino's Boreum Hill location at 146 Smith Street got slapped with six tickets and had to pay $900 in fines, data show. A Midtown East franchise on 52nd Street and 1st Ave and an Upper West location at West 107th Street on Amsterdam Ave, also got five tickets each, according to the DOT data.
A spokeswoman for the company said she could not comment on the matter, as each franchise was owned by independent business owners.
The majority of businesses ticketed by the unit were restaurants located in Manhattan, with the East Village and the Lower East Side leading the list with 307 summonses. The Upper East Side came in second with 224 summons while Hell’s Kitchen came in third with 218 summons, data show.
The bike unit does not write any tickets for traffic violations, since traffic rules are enforced by the NYPD, a DOT spokeswoman said.
Gotham Pizza came in second for most ticketed restaurants, with two Upper East Side locations at 1143 York Ave and 1667 1st Ave, both getting 11 tickets each. The pizza franchise had to pay $4,150 in penalties, data show.
Atomic Wings restaurants came in third, with the chain stores across the city getting 29 fines totaling $4,100, data show.
Atomic Wings Franchisor Founder and CEO Adam Lippin said he was surprised by the data and would ask his franchisers to provide additional training to their deliverymen.
“Safety is critical. We have delivery people and costumers on our streets so safety is our number 1 priority. We obviously need to make a better job at training some of our stores,” Lippin said.
The commercial bicycles rules' main goal is to promote safety, officials said, with regulations that require businesses to equip their delivery bikers with a helmet and a retro-reflective vest. The law also requires the delivery bikes to have lights and bells and put their bikers through an online safety course and maintain their contact information and bike ID number in a roster.
But some businesses said they felt the regulations were more of an additional administrative burden for them.
"I think if they'd like to make the streets safer they should enforce more traffic rules (rather than these rules)" said Mohammed, the owner of SAS Deli and Grocery on 1371 First Avenue, which has had to pay $1,100 for eight tickets, according to DOT data.
"I mean it's fine, it's just more regulations but we had to pay a lot of money at once (when we got fined) and we're a small business," said the 31-year-old owner who did not want to give his last name.
The top ticketed independent businesses included Sunny & Annie Deli on 94 Avenue B which got 10 tickets, followed by East Side Bagel Café on 1496 1st Ave and New York Style Eats on 45-02 Queens Boulevard — which both got 9 fines, data show.
The DOT held forums around the city educating restaurants about the rules and handing out free gear before enforcing the law two years ago, but several businesses said they were surprised when the DOT team showed up at their doors.
"We weren't aware of the rules until we got ticketed," said David Choi, an employee of Sunny & Annie's Deli in the East Village.
Like 90 percent of the fines issued citywide, seven of the summons issued to Sunny & Annie's Deli were first time offenses, costing $100 each, data show.
Second time offenses, which cost $250 and are issued when an establishment is in violation of the same criteria 31 days after the first summon was issued, were mainly issued because the businesses failed to maintain the proper commercial bike forms and did not provide bike equipment, data show.
Additionally, data show that almost 40 percent of the violations were issued because businesses did not have or correctly maintain the required bike roster.
"I think (these rules) are more an administrative thing than anything else," Choi said.
See how much the city collected monthly by issuing violations to businesses using commercial bikes since the enforcement of the law in 2013.