Blindsided: Gerritsen Beachers say bus stop creates visibility hazard

Blindsided: Gerritsen Beachers say bus stop creates visibility hazard
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Talk about being thrown under the bus.

Gerritsen Beachers are blasting transit officials for placing a bus shelter where it dangerously blocks the view of drivers turning off of Avenue X. Positioned far out from the sidewalk, on a median separating the bike lane from traffic on Gerritsen Avenue, the structure forces drivers wanting to make a turn to move far beyond the corner — across the bike lane and even into traffic — in order to see oncoming cars, according to the president of a local civic association.

“You really can’t see down [Gerritsen] avenue to see what’s coming at you, so you have to nose out into traffic, and by the time you get out far enough to have a clear view what’s coming towards you, your car is already in the lane of traffic that’s coming towards you,” said Gerritsen Beach Cares president John Douglas.

Gerritsen Avenue is a busy thoroughfare, according to Douglas, and many cars park along the road behind the bus shelter because Public School 277 is on the same block.

“There’s a lot of traffic in that area, especially during the school year,” he said. “People come and park to pick up their kids so it’s a little hectic in that spot.”

The left turn has become so dangerous that Douglas, his wife, and his neighbors avoid it and opt for other routes instead.

“My wife, myself and a bunch of my neighbors, we all go out from Whitney Avenue at the stop light now instead of coming all the way down to Avenue X,” he said.

The shelter was moved from the sidewalk to a newly constructed traffic island in April and it now has a two-directional bike lane between it and the curb. The Avenue X stop is one of six locations along Gerritsen Avenue where the Department of Transportation has relocated bus shelters in this way, including at Channel, Gatham, Lois, Cyrus, and Everett avenues.

A spokesperson for the department said it is reviewing the location to determine whether additional traffic-calming measures are needed, and that it expects the study to be completed by the fall.

One solution to improve visibility would be to remove the shelter and just have an open-air bench at the stop, according to the local councilman, who raised the issue in a letter to the department last month.

“The bus shelter really has to be removed, and I don’t even see how they can put it someplace else,” said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Gerritsen Beach).

Transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg responded to Maisel’s letter, declaring the shelter “in full compliance with contract guidelines,” but added that the department’s design and construction unit would review whether additional measures are needed to address visibility concerns.

Douglas isn’t sure what will happen to the bus stop, but said that it would be better for buses to be able to pull up at the sidewalk, as they used to before the bike-lane-protecting median was built.

“I think it would be safer for the bus to pull up on the curb at that juncture, because the bus never makes a turn on [Avenue] W. It continues up Gerritsen Avenue,” he said.

Installing a traffic signal at the corner would be another solution, but that would be more costly than just removing the shelter, according to Maisel.

“If they put a traffic light there, that would be a way of solving the problem,” Maisel said. “I just can’t see spending $150,000 plus for the traffic light when they could just easily solve the problem by taking down the bus shelter.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.