New York (CBSNewYork) — First, the city added tables and benches. Then bike racks. Now, a popular coffee vendor in downtown Brooklyn says he’s being squeezed out, CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported
Ahmed Khalifa, who has been selling coffee and breakfast treats from his cart for 16 years, says he’s being threatened with fines by the city because his cart sits 19 feet away from a building entrance. Vendors are required to be at least 20 feet away from any building entrances, and at least 10 feet away from crosswalks, subway entrances and driveways.
“I’m not asking to relocate a lot of stuff, just one bike rack,” Khalifa said. “That’s going to save my life and my business. I think I’m not asking for much.”
He said he had to move his cart closer to the building after the city recently added two bike racks on the block.
Khalifa has a loyal base of customers, some of whom say that if the situation isn’t resolved quickly, they will start a petition.
“You don’t have any money to pay him for that day, he will turn around and let you slide,” regular customer Belinda Lindros, of East New York, said of Khalifa. “Come and bring it when you got it. … He’s for the people. We’re for him.”
“Move the bike rack, let the man move back, keep everybody happy,” added customer Luann Kubler, of East New York.
Hundreds of people buy food and drinks from Khalifa’s cart every day, but people who live and work in the area say the bike racks are rarely used.
The city Department of Transportation said it installed two racks to expand bike parking and that licensed vendors must operate at available locations.
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