Bad for business: Ft. Greene entrepreneurs claim new Fulton bus lanes will hurt bottom lines

Bad for business: Ft. Greene entrepreneurs claim new Fulton bus lanes will hurt bottom lines
Photo by Zoe Freilich

They’re not sold on these street changes.

The city must hit the brakes on a plan to add dedicated bus lanes to a stretch of Fulton Street spanning Fort Greene and Clinton Hill because the people-mover’s paths will hurt local establishments by cutting street parking and further congesting the already crowded commercial strip, according to owners of businesses along the thoroughfare.

“It’s going to impact a lot of businesses, not just mine. They’re taking a lot of parking spaces away from us,” said Rocky Widdi, who runs the Key Food grocery store between St. James and Cambridge places. “Deliveries are going to be almost impossible, and it’s not going to help traffic. I just think it’s a terrible idea. Everybody is upset.”

The Department of Transportation is planning to divide a Downtown-bound swath of Fulton Street from Greene to Grand avenue and a Bedford-Stuyvesant-bound stretch from Lafayette Avenue to St. James Place — both of which now accommodate moving vehicles and parked cars — in two, creating dedicated travel and curbside bus lanes on each side of the road.

And in order for the B25 and B26 buses to cruise the new people-mover’s paths without getting stuck in rush-hour traffic, agency officials said they must prohibit street parking between 7 and 10 am on the Downtown-bound side of the thoroughfare, and between 2 and 7 pm on the Bedford-Stuyvesant-bound side.

The new lanes are an extension of already-in-place bus paths on Fulton Street, which run from Boerum Place in Downtown to Lafayette Avenue.

The city’s current plan followed a February proposal that called for even more no-parking hours along the new bus lanes, which Community Board 2 members demanded the agency return to the drawing board with.

Transit honchos then came back suggesting the reduced parking limitations in June, which they claimed are necessary to ease the flow of traffic and mitigate double-parking on Fulton Street.

Members of CB2’s Transportation and Executive committees both voted in favor of the agency’s revised proposal that month, according to the panel’s district manager, who said the full board did not vote because the plan was presented during its summer recess.

But the parking restrictions will harm local businesses that need to receive daily deliveries, according to an opponent, who said that establishments could be penalized as a result of the constraints.

“It’s a ticket sting, because trucks will be forced to stop and try to make deliveries,” said Schellie Hagan, who organized a protest against the planned bus lanes outside the Fulton Street Key Food on Nov. 16. “The small businesses seem to always be taking a beating from the city in terms of regulations and fines and all, and this is the latest issue.”

And another entrepreneur who owns a restaurant on the thoroughfare said he’s also worried about the changes, because they will complicate his patrons’ ability to find spots in a nabe that’s already desperate for more parking.

“There’s not so much parking area around here,” said Yucel Yuksel, the owner of Mediterranean eatery Deniz between S. Elliott and Fort Greene places.

In addition to the dedicated people-mover lanes, the city will also add painted sidewalk extensions that shorten pedestrian crossings at seven Fulton Street intersections between S. Portland and Grand avenues as part of its plan, according to information from the transportation department.

The agency will begin work later this month, a spokeswoman said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Not sold: Entrepreneurs claimed their businesses will suffer from the installation of new dedicated bus lanes along stretches of Fulton Street, which will limit curbside parking in parts of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.
Department of Transportation