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Parking change befuddles drivers

New parking lines on 108th Street in Forest Hills has caused pandemonium for confused drivers, some of whom have forsaken parking in the commercial area because they say it is too frustrating and inconvenient, shop owners and residents said.

“I can’t park here anymore, and I work here,” said Angela Matacova, an employee at Gifts Plus, at 64-18 108th St. “You can’t pull in anymore. Every customer is complaining about it, and it is very dangerous now.”

The city Department of Transportation flipped the parking lines on 108th Street between 63rd Drive and 65th Avenue last week in an attempt to get drivers to back into the spots instead of going in head-first.

Transportation officials said the new parking is safer for drivers who back into the spots because they will then be pulling out with the flow of traffic instead of maneuvering against oncoming cars.

Monty Dean, the DOT’s assistant press secretary, said the new parking space lines “are the continuation of a DOT policy started in 1994 to establish back-in angle parking where possible, as it is safer because drivers leaving the spaces have a better view of oncoming traffic.”

The city did not notify shop owners, residents, civics or the community board about the new parking, according to Community Board 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio.

“We’ve gotten complaints,” Gulluscio said. “Nobody has said they’re for it.”

City officials additionally have not posted signs alerting drivers to the new lines, though Dean said Tuesday the DOT will soon be installing “back in parking only” signs on 108th Street.

Isabel Simon, who visits her daughter in Forest Hills every Tuesday and Thursday, said the new lines are “insane.”

“This is the dumbest arrangement I’ve ever seen,” said Simon, who lives in Rockland County.

Simon had pulled into a spot headfirst on Tuesday morning when she realized her car was taking up portions of two spots. In order to correctly park, she would need to back into oncoming traffic and turn around.

“I’m afraid to pull out and pull back in,” she said. “I’ve seen everyone pull in the same way as me.”

Bashith Chowdhury, owner of The Center at the intersection of 64th Road and 108th Street, and Joseph Sedgh, who owns Gifts Plus, said the city should change the lines back to their old formation.

“Many people who park here are elderly and they don’t realize half their car is in the other spot,” Sedgh said. “When they want to back up, all the oncoming cars have to wait and traffic is backed up. It’s affecting our business because they cannot park here.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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