Business Owners Say Their Livelihoods Are Being Threatened By Lack Of Available Parking Spaces, People Who Double Park On Street

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is controversy over wider bike lanes installed in a Queens neighborhood.

Some say it’s creating calm for cyclists, while others say it’s creating chaos.

Residents in Sunnyside and Woodside say traffic on Skillman Avenue is often gridlocked. They blame a wider bike lane that was installed in August. As a result, two lanes of traffic were condensed to one, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Sunday.

“There was ambulance on P.S. 11 that wasn’t able to get there and it was stuck there for over five minutes,” said Manny Gomez of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.

skillman DOT Catching Grief For Wider Bike Lane On Skillman Avenue

A widened bicycle lane on Skillman Avenue in Queens has some people annoyed at the Department of Transportation. (Photo: CBS2)

Cars that double park often take up the only lane of traffic. Video shows a postal truck traveling down the bike lane, and delivery trucks backing up on to the road.

“Horrible. The other day there was a fire and the firetrucks couldn’t turn down on Skillman. They had to back up, go back the other way,” Woodside resident Jenny Ruiz said.

Also on 43rd Avenue, a protected bike lane was installed, narrowing traffic there, too. Parked cars serve as a barrier between the roadway and cyclists.

When asked if he feels safer, cyclist Edwin Duten said, “Yeah, much safer.”

“You don’t have to worry about cars merging into you,” bicyclist Casey Berkovitz added. “Drivers are always loose with the lanes.”

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The point of contention with the new redesign is the white diagonal lines. They have forced the traffic lanes to now downsize.

The Department of Transportation said it has already made adjustments to the project, including improved signal timing and creating a larger loading zone with longer hours. However, some business owners say the new lanes are hurting their bottom line every day.

“Right now, we are losing like $300, $400. The business is losing and we have to close early then,” said Hirenkumar Thakker, owner of Discount Variety Grocery.

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This past summer the local community board voted against the protected bike lanes, but the city moved forward with the plan anyway.

“DOT has taken out 150 parking spaces so far on these two roads, so it’s huge and people can’t find parking,” Community Board 2 member Dorothy Morehead said.

She wants the DOT to put the old lanes back, but it looks like the status quo will remain, for now.

“Protected bike lanes have made streets safer across New York City. It’s plain to see that the problem on Skillman and 43rd avenues is caused not by the redesign, but by illegal double parking,” a Transportation Alternatives spokesperson told CBS2 in a statement.