Dedicated bus lanes along Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards will not be the magic panacea their supporters in City Hall claim — they will be a disaster.

Yet they’re almost certainly coming. The Department of Transportation is all for them. The chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee is too. So are several Council members from Queens, though it’s notable that one, Eric Ulrich of Ozone Park, decided against signing onto an exclusive Chronicle op-ed that the group wrote this week. Ulrich’s district will be among those most impacted by this folly.

And it’s notable that state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. of Howard Beach is strongly opposed to the idea.

Also opposing it is Allan Rosen, a retired director of bus planning for New York City Transit. Rosen also penned an exlusive op-ed for the Chronicle this week, and in some editions the two pieces run side by side (they’ll also both be posted at qchron.com).

The five lawmakers who want to bar cars, trucks and other vehicles from one lane in each direction on the boulevards absurdly claim that doing so will reduce congestion. They do this without evidence, of course. Use your common sense and decide if cutting down on the number of lanes on a congested thoroughfare, and making the remaining ones more narrow, can possibly help traffic move more quickly. It can’t.

The real goal, the only one that logically makes sense in this plan, must be to make it so intolerable to drive that people will give up and ride the buses instead. That’s unlikely for the vast majority. And it’s impossible for the ambulettes, delivery trucks, livery cars and taxis that also make up a significant share of the traffic.

Rather than engage in this bit of social engineering as part of the war on cars, city agencies and officials should make other improvements to bus service. And they should get back to basics and make driving on Woodhaven and Cross Bay less difficult. They could start by repainting the lane markers so you know which one you’re in.

(3) comments

QueensWatcher

Why would this be a disaster? Can you cite to a single occassion when a plan like this didn't work? BRT/SBS systems the world over work very well, and reduce traffic considerably, so other than your biased dislike of the idea what can you offer to substantiate your claim?

Right now traffic on that street is horrendous. Although several bus lines run along it, the busses are slow and riding them is unpleasant as the buses have to fight their way through traffic, including having to dodge toward and away from the curbs - often around double parked cars - to reach bus stops. If you are standing you feel like you are being thrown around like a rag doll. so if you have access to a car, that is a much more appealing way to travel, hence the congestion and dangerous driving we see today.

The solution is to make buses more efficient and more pleasant to ride on. The purpose of this proposal is not to make it a nicer ride for current bus riders, the point is to make the bus a more reasonable alternative for people who otherwise use their cars today. Shifting even a few percent of those drivers to the bus would make a significant difference to congestion. That means the bus has to move more quickly and it can't feel like you are on a roller coaster. You should be able to sit and drink your morning coffee without worrying if it will splash on you. You need this plan to do that. Pull the bus lanes away from the curbs, away from double parked cars, delivery vehicles and cars trying to park. This is exactly the model that has worked all over the world.

So unless you have something substantive to support your dislike of this idea, please stop discouraging people from supporting the best solution to a mess of a Boulevard that has come along in decades. We can't bury our head in the sand and pretend the problem will go away. The population in Central Queens is only going up, and if we do not invest in the infrastructure to move those people now, then your doom and gloom scenario will come true simply by failing to act.

SamOnQueens

This position is completely ridiculous. Woodhaven BRT is not about a non-existent war on cars, it's about undoing the war on pedestrians and transit riders for the past 70+ years of our city's history. DOT spends most of its resources, including planning BRT, on moving vehicles. Now its thinking about how to move people, and a ton of people use the buses on Woodhaven - primarily those who cannot afford a car and who deserve at least one lane of traffic. Woodhaven is ideal because it wouldn't impact traffic on it very much since it already has so many lanes.

BrooklynBus

A slower speed limit is planned as is removal of two general traffic lanes and in soe places the removal of three traffic lanes at certain intersections. The only way it woud not have a severe negative impact on traffic is if massive numbers of people switch from car to bus. That will just not happen since most of these who drive require three four or five transfers which is why they now drive. SBS will do nothing to change that. Added stops and longer buses will mean less SBS service than current limited service since service levels are based on crowding levels. Local service will be severely curtailed forcing some local riders to walk longer to access SBS stops when they prefer the local.

Current SBS routes are no more reliable than limited routes they replaced. Buses are now traveling at speeds of 35 and 40 mph during the off-peak. Under the plan, they cannot go any faster than 30 mph so they will actually travel slower. How is that improved bus service?

Banning about a dozen left turns will shft traffic and accidents to residential streets. He does that improve safety? This plan is just loaded with a bunch of flaws. Because BRT may work in other cities, there is no indication at all that it will workon zwoodhaven

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