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

Lane, lane go away: Rocky Widdi, who runs the Key Food grocery store, is among the Fulton Street shopkeepers who said the new bus lanes will negatively affect their bottom lines.
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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.
Updated 12:56 pm, November 15, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Bertice Woo Jenkins says:
There could be a business oppurtunity here - why don't they start to offer a bus passenger special? The bus is full of people, and those people could also be customers! They could sell bus-related paraphenalia like bus pads, or bus gloves, or metrocard charms! Maybe they'll make even more money!!
Nov. 10, 2017, 4:45 am
Bus Rider from Crown Heights says:
With improved transit, you will have more people going to and from the bus stops. Business owners who can figure out how to capitalize on additional foot traffic will do great. This is an opportunity!

I remember there was some study about how shoppers who come by foot or by bus or by bicycle might spend less per trip than those who shop by car, but they shop more frequently and are more reliable customers.

Plus, families who spend their money owning or leasing a car will have less money to spend eating out at restaurants.
Nov. 10, 2017, 9:17 am
David A from Clinton Hill says:
I lived on St James between Fulton and Gates for two years and can attest that double and triple parking on Fulton on this stretch is a huge impediment to reliable bus service and a major source of congestion and noise. When it's at its worst, buses just crawl through here - slower than walking pace. And as far as the Key Foods go, their delivery trucks often double park even when the curb space is open - and then the workers use the open curb space as a staging area. The parking meters installed along Fulton recently have resulted in improved conditions and this project will too.
Nov. 10, 2017, 9:26 am
TeeBoy from Boerum Hill says:
Bertice Woo Jenkins.....There are copyright infringement/trademark issues for anyone outside of the MTA distributing anything with their logos, images, etc on it. So anything Metrocard or MTA related items are out.
Nov. 10, 2017, 9:32 am
Toddster from Clinton Hill says:
As a ten year long resident of this area, I will be sure to never patronize Deniz Turkish Restaurant going forward. If he thinks his customers drive, why doesn't he open a spot in Bensonhurst with a big parking lot? Why did he choose to open in a dense, congested, transit focused area if he thinks his customers drive to him?

Meanwhile, he's trying to prevent the neighborhood from becoming a safer place to walk, how most people arrive at his business.
Nov. 10, 2017, 10:21 am
Adrian from Ridgewood says:
The bus lanes will reduce congestion by creating two lanes of traffic. The great part is that the new traffic lane should be traffic free because it will only be used by buses.
Nov. 10, 2017, 11:05 am
Khareem from Clinton Hill says:
I love the comment that the express bus lane will save people money on owning or leasing a car. The DOT didn't inform the stores about this move because the DOT doesn't care about the stores. Isn't there a bus one as improvement district there? What does it have to say? Was an environmental impact STUDY run? How can such a big change go through on the vote of just the transportation committee of CB2? Shouldn't the vote of the full board be required?
Nov. 10, 2017, 11:41 am
Chris from Bushwick says:
There is only one, incredibly selfish reason that these business owners oppose this lane: they won't be able to park their own cars there.
Nov. 10, 2017, 11:54 am
Resident from Brooklyn says:
I was going to bike over to Deniz, but there's no place to securely park and the area is choked with cars. Oh well. Will spend my money elsewhere.
Nov. 10, 2017, 11:58 am
Carol from Fort Greene says:
Looks like the biker crowd is on this. They could care less what the bus lane does to the stores since they don't care about the stores. They hate trucks and cars do if the lane hurts the stores because their deliveries are messed u p, the bikers could care less. They look down on small stores as working class.
Nov. 10, 2017, 12:43 pm
All-Powerful Bike & Bus Lobby from Hell says:
You’re right, Carol! Bikers and bus riders are in thgreat s together, doing our best to make New York City a better place and to convince all the drivers to move to Dallas or Phoenix or Oklahoma.
Nov. 10, 2017, 1:32 pm
Khareem from Clinton Hill says:
How do you reduce traffic by subtracting two lanes from four? That's DOT math for you. If you have four people living in two rooms and take two rooms away are the four people less crowded? HPD would probably say yes because they use the same math as DOT, De Blasio math. (He claims he was re-elected o n a "landslide" of 14% of the 18% who bothered to vote.)
Nov. 10, 2017, 1:34 pm
Carol from Fort Greene says:
You've made my point, Bike & Bus Lobby from He'll. You want to push everyone you look down on, including family storeowners, out of NYC to places you look down on like Dallas and Phoenix and (the state of) Oklahoma. You're proud of your elitism and bigotry. Good for you.
Nov. 10, 2017, 1:41 pm
Tyler from pps says:
I own a car... I use my car. I would NEVER EVER think about driving my car to anywhere near Fulton and Lafayette and expect to find parking.

The VAST MAJORITY of the people going to the store and restaurants in this area get there by foot, bus, subway, and bicycle. Oh, and taxi/car service.

Almost no one in their right mind (and that's an important distinction here) would say, "Hey, let's drive to that restaurant on Fulton and Lafayette." This is like saying, "Hey, let's drive to the play... we'll have no problem finding a parking spot directly in front of that Broadway theater!" (But based on the comments above, Broadway theater is negatively impacted by parking restrictions!"
Nov. 10, 2017, 1:51 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
Khareem,

It's very simple. Just get around using things that don't fill up the lanes.

Take a look at this photo, it explains everything.

http://urbanist.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83454714d69e2017d3c37d8ac970c-popup
Nov. 10, 2017, 1:59 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
You know what hurts business? People not being able to get to work. If you want to live in a place where it's "cars cars cars" and the people rich enough to own them, them move upstate or some other bumblecrap place. Mayor moneybags Bloomberg just conspired with his develop[er buddies to pack 'em in pack 'em in pack 'em in, with no development or support for transportation infrastructure, and this is the result. You people voted for him instead of Working-Families (which ...guy you are literally a working family), so this is what you get. Stop-gap measures to problems created decades ago.
Nov. 10, 2017, 3:39 pm
justsayin says:
Urm, de Blasio was the Working Families candidate for Mayor.
https://enrweb.boenyc.us/OF11CY0PY3.html (board of elections preliminary results page)

(You may ask, what good, then, is Working Families?)
Nov. 10, 2017, 3:46 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Perhaps some of you anti-car fanatics need to look at the causes to why those business owners oppose the bike lanes rather than the effects. They say many of those who park there as customers for their businesses. Losing those parking lanes to buses will mean that they will have to park further away and probably never come back. If that hurts them, then that's why they oppose it. More importantly, I don't see how reducing lanes really helps when it will actually make even more congestion and even lead to it being relocated to other streets that will end up carrying it. Then again, that's probably how you fanatics can promote congestion pricing by creating the very congestion hence the Bloomberg Way.
Nov. 10, 2017, 3:55 pm
Khareemc from Clinton Hill says:
Hi, Boot. How are the stores supposed to get deliveries if not in trucks? Crates of bottled water aren't easy to hand carry from the warehouse or to transport by bike. There's a nice bike store near the supermarket. The bike store gets bike deliveries in big boxes several times a week, delivered by truck.
Nov. 10, 2017, 4:36 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Yeah -- You're right Tal. Why should we look at the effects of bike lane or the effects of bus lanes?

That would be CRAZY! We should never look at the data... only what people "feel" "might" happen, based on no facts or rational thought. Yay!

(Now that I've said you're right, can you go away? I think your mom needs you upstairs.)
Nov. 10, 2017, 4:55 pm
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
Jim From Cobble Hill - you are a tool. "Working Families Party" doesn't support working families per se...it is concerned with public service union members ONLY. They are concerned with maximizing benefits for gov't. workers at taxpayers expense. FYI: The Rent Stabilization Association is a PRO-Landlord lobby. The nomenclature is trickery in these cases.
Nov. 10, 2017, 4:59 pm
Mustafa Khant from Atlantic Ave says:
"there was some study about how shoppers who come by foot or by bus or by bicycle might spend less per trip than those who shop by car, but they shop more frequently and are more reliable customers."

Well, of course - they can't carry much on foot bus or bicycle! What a stupid conclusion.
Nov. 10, 2017, 6:13 pm
Joseph from Brooklyn says:
How many kids does this guy have? If more than one, he's a hypocrite.
Nov. 10, 2017, 7:58 pm
Sarah from Clinton Hill says:
I'm confused about this Fulton bus lane because the article says it runs from Greene Avenue to Grand Avenue. Greene runs parallel to Fulton and Grand crosses Fulton. I'm confused also about the story saying the Fulton lane going to Bed Stuy runs from Lafayette to St James. Again, Lafayette parallels Fulton and St James intersects it. BP, please explain the route of this bus lane so we understand where it's going. Thank you.
Nov. 10, 2017, 9:44 pm
Scabby says:
why doenst they make it a double decker road? like the bqe? duh. i shlould run the nyc mta!
Nov. 11, 2017, 7:54 am
Colleen from Clinton Hill says:
I guess the lane runs on one side from where Lafayette intersects Fulton in Fort Greene to where St James intersects in Clinton Hill and on the other side goes from where Greene intersects in Fort Greene to where Grand intersects in Clinton Hill and all within the Fulton business improvement district FAB. No wonder the stores in FAB are saying the lane is a direct DOT-FAB hit on them. The stores have been saying all along FAB does nothing for them. Now they say FAB is hurting them.
Nov. 11, 2017, 8:54 am
Jane from Clinton Hill says:
This is yet another dumb DOT move on the hood's quality of life & Fulton St. merchants ability to do business here. We love our small businesses. The so-called Business Improvement District, FAB, has done nothing to prevent the DOT from hurting the stores with this surprise Buses Only lane. The store owners have no advocate except their loyal customers. We will be at the rally on Thursday!
Nov. 12, 2017, 8:44 pm
Frank from Fort Greene says:
Terrorists use trucks to kill. It looks like the DOT is doing that too. The bus only lane is being used to kill small businesses. Depraved indifference that's the DOT. I guess they're just following the mayor's orders. As far as he's concerned all the little guys should be pushed out for more luxury buildings and corporate headquarters.
Nov. 13, 2017, 11:42 am
Tyler from pps says:
Why do I suspect Colleen, Jane and Frank are the same person?

By the way, Brooklyn Paper, did you change the picture because the owner of the Turkish Restaurant realized he was being stupid and bad press is actually bad press?
Nov. 13, 2017, 4:57 pm
Moist Pampers says:
Me thinks Tyler from pps is the smartest person dealing with Brooklyn Paper.
Nov. 13, 2017, 8:24 pm
Darrell from Bed Stuy says:
Won't the bus lanes cause more bad traffic on Fulton? How are they supposed to work in the real world?
Nov. 14, 2017, 2:50 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Darell, you should know by now why the anti-car fanatics especially those from Transportation Alternatives and Streetsblog are for this if it means giving motorists the royal screw job.
Nov. 14, 2017, 5:54 pm
NN from Boerum Hill says:
I support the bus lanes.

The vast majority of people Fort Greene and the surrounding neighborhoods use public transit, not cars. Improving transit will help local businesses and local residents and everyone who uses the B25 and B26.
Nov. 15, 2017, 11:39 am
mark from Joe Public Park says:
These bus only lanes push traffic to adjacent streets, making the adjacent streets (usually residential) less safe for everyone.

For all the Transit Only Lanes in New York, the ridership is STILL FALLING, year after year, after year. That goes for EVERY CITY IN AMERICA except for 2.

Here is what the small shop owners need to do. They need to hire a lawyer (and this is the problem, only one or two businesses will put up funds, while others just tag along and hope the legal angle works) and claim inverse condemnation. If access to businesses is reduced by transit lanes sitting adjacent to a business, that is a taking of access rights, and the Transit Agency needs to cough up money to compensate these businesses.

As for the "data" on these Transit Lanes, do not hold your breath. Transit Agencies are in bed with all their other ilk. The Feds - who might be involved in funding some of this stuff - have a desire to dole out funds to local transit agencies because that is their job. Show me any transit lane study, and I will show you they did not do an adequate one, or the data is skewed, or they just lie. That is a fact. The red lanes in New York are/were an experiment. Get ahold of the study to see if the red coloring helped buses travel faster. Same with San Francisco. It does nothing for bus speed. But they tell you it helps, to justify spending your tax dollars. Till they get caught.

Again, bus ridership keeps falling, not rising, each year, and you know why? Because the bus sucks. Many riders are scared to ride the bus but it is their only means of transportation. A$$holes like riding the bus, because they don't need to show I.D. and they can get away with all kinds of crap.

Let me say it again: Bus ridership is DOWN year after year after year, even though the population keeps growing and all these bus-riding people posting here either do not ride the bus, or ride it and really don't like it, and stop riding once they get some cash and buy a car.

Look it up.
May 4, 3:14 pm

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