BRONX, New York City (WABC) -- Bronx residents are demanding the city waive fines related to bike lane installation along Southern Boulevard, which they say came without any notification or community input.
Many residents say they woke up to find their cars towed while needing to go to work or take their children to school, and they say they were confused and had no idea of car removal to install a bike lane.
"What happened here is a clear example of how our current city government treats residents," resident Jose Leon said. "They make decisions without giving any consideration to the communities they impact. They don't notify anyone of the changes, and, overnight, inconvenience dozens of us by towing cars and handing out tickets. It's just so wrong."
They claimed they were given no prior notice and had to search to find out where their cars ended up, in addition to paying hefty fines to get them back.
"The residents of this community deserve better treatment and communication from their elected officials and city agencies," said Ischia Bravo, candidate for City Council District 15. "It is unfair that during a pandemic, our local government would take advantage of residents, many of whom are out of work and struggling, with these 'gotcha'fines that could have been avoided if the city had simply had a dialogue with the community about the planned project."
They also say the bike lane will take away valuable parking spaces that are a necessity to access their jobs outside the city.
"Bronx Community Board 6 was informed by the Department of Transportation that they expected the project to be complete by the end of the summer," said John Sanchez, district manager of Bronx Community Board 6. "The board has voted against this project since 2019. It is concerning that DOT would not provide a grace period for community members who were unaware of the parking changes and instead, rush to issue tickets and tow cars. During a pandemic, we expect that our city would try to help make things easier for residents rather than penalizing them immediately. We request that the city rescind these tickets so they are dismissed and cause no further economic harm to our community."
City officials say "no parking" signs went up last week along Southern Boulevard from 182nd Street to Fordham Boulevard, a more than 3/4 of a mile stretch that runs along the Bronx Zoo, and that town hall meeting was held on the project in back in February of 2019.
The bike lanes have been in the works for two years as part of the city's green zone plan to make the Bronx and other borough safer for cyclists.
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The plan adds dozens of miles of protected bike lanes to city streets every year, but it has come at the cost of car owners who were forced to give up their parking spot.
New parking hours are overnight from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., seven days a week.
A DOT spokesperson says there is a five-day grace period when drivers who have received tickets can have them dismissed by reaching out to the DOT Bronx Borough Commissioner's Office at 212-748-6680.
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