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Queens Chronicle

Community speaks out against bus lane

Holden, Nolan want the DOT to consider alternative measures

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Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:47 pm, Thu Aug 1, 2019.

At a press conference last Thursday, Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) said he wants to see the Department of Transportation try different things before the “nuclear option” of installing a bus lane.

He acknowledged he might support a bus lane from 4 to 7 p.m. if all the proposed measures fail.

“I will never, ever support 2 to 8,” Holden said.

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Long Island City) said she shops on Fresh Pond Road every day when she’s not in Albany and that she wants to support buses and trains but also the businesses in the area.

“We also need to support a strip like this where people walk to shop, where our new young people who are so environmentally aware want to bike and walk to shop,” she said. “We want to support that. But we don’t want to have something shoved down our throat where people weren’t maybe paying full attention because it’s the height of the summer and people come back in the fall and all of a sudden there’s no parking from 3 to 7, 3 to 8.”

Nolan added, “We want to work with the city. We’re a very reasonable community. But right now the city is being very unreasonable with us.”

Nolan and Holden recommended creating turning lanes, consolidating bus lanes, making the bus depot more accessible as well as adjusting traffic signal timing.

“That seems to be a no-brainer,” Holden said of adjusting the traffic signal timing. “Why won’t DOT do it first?

“DOT does not want to do it because they don’t want to compare the nightmare that we’re seeing now to their magical solution,” he said of the proposed ideas.

The DOT’s plan for a bus lane on Fresh Pond Road was voted down 28-6 by Community Board 5 earlier in the month though the board voted in favor of other traffic-calming measures.

The DOT maintains that its plan is a “comprehensive solution” for the corridor.

“DOT has received this feedback and will take it into consideration for implementation,” a DOT spokesperson said in a statement. “However, a robust solution is needed to fix the mobility problems on Fresh Pond Road that have plagued this commercial corridor.

“Buses, cars, and first responders currently crawl southbound during late afternoon and early evening rush hour between Bleecker Street and 67th Avenue on Fresh Pond Road, often at 3 miles per hour — slower than the average person walks. DOT’s design for this critical corridor will make traveling faster for all users, and will benefit businesses, motorists, and the 30,000 daily bus riders using this route. DOT’s plan is a comprehensive solution, as opposed to a piecemeal approach, which we do not believe would achieve the kind of meaningful results that the users of Fresh Pond Road need and deserve.

“We have worked closely with the business community to address their concerns and as result are adding loading zones and over 60 metered spaces on the side streets. This and other feedback from the public, including CB5 members, has helped inform and improve the plan, and we will continue to work with the community as we move forward.”

Geoffrey Elkind, president of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, wants the DOT to honor the measures the elected officials and CB 5 recommended and said that after 2:30 p.m. Fresh Pond Road “is a parking lot straight back to Metropolitan Avenue.”

“In essence, the DOT is playing with other people’s money, other people’s livelihoods, other people’s jobs,” he said.

Giuseppe Palmeri, owner of Gemelli Jewelers, spoke about his displeasure with the proposed bus lane.

“We as business owners are fighting an uphill battle against many different fronts,” he said. “We have high wages we must pay, high taxes, high rents and it feels like the city is just looking to choke us out by putting the bus lane here which is very unpopular with not just the merchants but also with the residents.”

The DOT plans to implement the bus lane this summer.

“That’s what they’re dictating without any kind of negotiations or any kind of suggestions or even trying some easy solutions,” Holden said. “They won’t even do that.”

Nolan added, “We’ve been sort of shocked at how quickly they want to ram this through.”

The Riders Alliance tweeted in favor of the bus lane, saying “During the evening rush hour, riders in Queens are stuck in slow buses that crawl along at just 3MPH on Fresh Pond Road. This is NOT ok. We’ve got to fix this. #BetterBuses.”

“As a Ridgewood resident and bus rider, I couldn’t be more excited for a bus lane on Fresh Pond Road,” said Riders Alliance member Kerry Herlihy in a statement. “The Q58 is a vital and crowded bus line and it is exasperating to be at the mercy of extreme congestion when I ride it down Fresh Pond.

“The Fresh Pond Road area’s access to public transit makes it the thriving commercial center of Ridgewood, but cars and parking spots take up too much of the road for it to function properly. It’s time we promote buses’ ability to efficiently lessen traffic, noise pollution and air pollution.”

If the DOT should implement the bus lane despite the CB 5 vote, Nolan said it could be challenged in court, possibly with an Article 78 proceeding, which is used to appeal the decision of a New York State or local agency to the New York courts. Arguments can include the agency not following its own rules, a decision being “arbitrary and capricious” or not supported by “substantial evidence.”

“But I’m certainly hopeful that the mayor will listen to the voices of this community,” Nolan said.

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2 comments:

  • Buster57 posted at 4:21 pm on Thu, Aug 1, 2019.

    Buster57 Posts: 77

    Linnstrer: You are so right. And the few times I do see bicyclists, they are riding all over the road. Taking away parking only makes drivers crazy and therefore they drive more aggressively to get that to one elusive spot.



     
  • Linnster posted at 9:13 am on Thu, Aug 1, 2019.

    Linnster Posts: 3

    The Mayor couldn't care less about bike lanes - he's busy in Iowa running for president. Forest Hills put up a fight against bike lanes lang Queen Boulevard where they took out hundreds of parking spaces and we lost. I have yet to see anyone in those bike lanes.