May 8, 2018 By Tara Law
Businesses and community members will rally Wednesday to protest a Department of Transportation program that restricts parking on a stretch of Roosevelt Avenue during rush hour periods.
The protest will take aim at the DOT’s Clear Curbs initiative, a six-month pilot program that went into effect March 9 that bans vehicles from standing or parking on Roosevelt Avenue–between Broadway and 90th Street– during certain parts of the day.
Business owners say that the program has made it difficult for customers to reach their shops at crucial hours.
The protest, “Say No to the DOT Clear Curbs Initiative,” will take place at Manuel de Dios Triangle, located at 83rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue, at 9 a.m.
The event is being spearheaded by a new organization, the Roosevelt Avenue Business Coalition. The group, formed by members of the 82nd Street Partnership, aims to bring business owners along Roosevelt Avenue together to promote their interests.
In a flyer for the event, the Roosevelt Avenue Business Coalition wrote that local businesses are suffering as a result of the DOT’s program.
“The initiative is hindering deliveries and driving away customers,” the flyer reads. “The City claims that this is just a 6-month pilot program. Given NYC high operating costs, our small, mom & pops shops can’t afford this City imposed pay cut.”
Matt Santiago, the owner of Elmhurst Wait Loss Center, said that he had decided to participate in the rally because the initiative has hurt his business and other businesses in the area. His goal for the rally is to persuade the DOT to put an immediate stop to the Clear Curbs pilot program.
According to Santiago, traffic tickets have scared off customers who are accustomed to parking on the street. Between the start of the program and May 6, the NYPD has handed out 2,023 summonses along the Roosevelt Avenue stretch as part of the initiative, police said.
“It used to be difficult to park on Roosevelt Avenue, but now it’s impossible,” Santiago said.
The hours chosen by the DOT for the parking ban— from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.— are crucial times for businesses, Santiago said.
The later bracket is particularly detrimental to his weight loss center, Santiago said, because people frequently set up appointments after work or after they pick up their children from school.
The impact on the businesses, said Santiago, has been immediate.
“I’ve been on Roosevelt Avenue for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.