Park it! Locals demand city not trade spaces for buses

Park it! Locals demand city not trade spaces for buses
Photo by Steve Solomonson

These protesters are keeping bus-y.

The city needs to put the brakes on a plan to add a bus lane — and take away needed parking spaces — within a popular shopping district on Kings Highway, protesters demanded last week.

Hundreds of angry locals held signs, shouted, and marched on Kings Highway on April 15 in opposition to the plan to put bus lanes on parts of the commercial strip hours after a local pol announced the city had backtracked and agreed to delay laying down the paint, but not everyone is buying it.

“Sometimes they just say things,” said Gravesend resident Margie Bijou. “You can’t really trust what they say.”

In March, the Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed adding dedicated bus lanes on stretches of Kings Highway, including several blocks between McDonald Avenue and Ocean Avenue, at a Community Board 15 transportation committee meeting. The plan would make the B82 limited bus line part of the city’s “Select Bus Service,” and, along with front and back unloading plus stations to buy tickets before hopping on, would create faster and more efficient bus service in the busy neighborhood, the city claims. Buses currently average 5 miles per hour or lower on the stretch, the city said at the time. Brooklyn’s average bus speed is 6.2 miles per hour, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.

Many pols and residents alike immediately came out against the plan, noting it would remove over 100 parking spots from the business area.

“We have a very severe parking problem as is,” Bijou said. “You can barely take your car out anymore.”

Photo by Steve Solomonson

However, on April 14, Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) sent out a press release saying that the Authority and the city had agreed to hold off on the idea for now, instead taking more time to hear from the community.

“They will spend the next several months speaking with community members and elected officials in an effort to address some of our concerns about the plan,” said Deutsch. “This community has shown that when we are united, we can have a strong voice in what happens in our neighborhood.”

The Department of Transportation declined to give an updated timeline on the project.

“Discussions are ongoing,” said a department spokesman.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority did not respond to a request for comment.

The protest took place on the sidewalk on Kings Highway near McDonald Avenue. The civic group the Kings Highway Beautification Association helped organize the event, distributing flyers entitled “save our streets.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Save the spots: Margie Bijou, from Gravesend, thinks the bus lane will make the already difficult parking situation on the road even worse.
Photo by Steve Solomonson