Traffic agents hammer shoppers

Al Neira, the owner of Lehigh Wine and Liquors, said that over-ticketing by traffic agents for trivial offenses is ruining his business. Photo by Kevin Heckma

Business owners in Westchester Square and Pelham Bay are adamant that the ticketing and abuse of power by traffic agents is driving customers away for good.

Two local shopkeepers, one from Pelham Bay and the other from Westchester Square, paint a picture of frenzied traffic agents rushing to ticket shoppers who double park for seconds, while the agents themselves park their cars in legal parking spaces for hours, adding to the lack of available parking spots.

Al Neira, owner of Lehigh Wines and Liquors at 2929 Westchester Avenue in Pelham Bay, said that in the past agents warned double parked motorists to move their cars.

“It has become more and more confrontational and creates many unpleasant situations; and it is escalating,” Neira said. “It used to be if you double parked your car, as long as you got to the car before the traffic agent started writing the ticket, they let you go. Now, even if you move the car, they still write the ticket.”

Neira said that in the last four years, traffic agents have thrown out courtesy for revenue. Gone are the days when you could count on an agent knocking on the window of your car and asking you to move, he said. He called the present situation an abuse of power.

“The way [the agents] are behaving is counterproductive and clearly an abuse of power,” Neira said. “Sometimes motorist deserve tickets. But it is getting to the point where my customers cannot come into my store for two minutes and pick up a package without being ticketed. There has got to be some leeway and better judgment on the part of traffic agents.” There just isn’t enough parking to support the businesses’ needs.

Over in Westchester Square, the agents have left such a bitter taste in the mouth of Bobby Doyle, owner of Doyle Pub at 2634 E. Tremont Avenue, he said that he is putting his bar and restaurant business up for sale after 28 years.

Doyle said that since this past December, when the traffic enforcement office Westchester Square lost its parking lot, NYPD-Traffic vehicles have clogged the streets surrounding Doyle’s Pub. On some nights, even Saturday nights – his busiest time, he has counted as many as 35 traffic enforcement vehicles taking up metered and non-metered parking spots. They often park all night.

“I used to have a weekend and dinner crowd, but I have put my business up for sale because they are strangling me,” Doyle said. “They are parking their city-issued vehicles on the street overnight. It is killing my business.”

He said he spoke with the chief of the local office, and the agents agreed not to park their vehicles in the five metered spaces on St. Raymond Avenue next to his bar. Nevertheless, Doyle said he has stopped hosting dinner parties because of the ongoing problem. Doyle is so fed up he is selling both the Square and the Morris Park Doyle’s.

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