Sept. 19, 2019 By Allie Griffin
A coalition of business owners along Fresh Pond Road and property owners in Ridgewood have taken legal action against the city’s implementation of a bus lane down Fresh Pond Road.
The Department of Transportation began construction of the bus lane in August, despite months of pushback from community members, business owners and local elected officials. The plan will reduce the number of parking spaces, which business owners fear will hurt their bottom line.
Now a group of nearly 30 business owners and the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association have formed an ad hoc coalition and have filed a lawsuit to halt its construction. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Queens County Supreme Court.
“We’ve created an informal Fresh Pond Road coalition which includes the civic association and nearly 30 businesses on Fresh Pond Road with more being added basically every day,” Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association president Geoffrey Elkind said at a Community Board 5 meeting last night.
The DOT’s contentious plan, part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Better Buses Action Plan, will create a designated bus lane southbound along Fresh Pond Road from Bleecker Street to Putnam Avenue which will be open to buses and right turning vehicles only, Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The lane is meant to alleviate the heavy traffic flow on Fresh Pond Road in the afternoon and evenings when the Q58 bus’s ridership is highest. According to the DOT, buses average a speed of three miles per hour, about the same pace as walking during the peak hours.
The DOT announced the bus lane proposal in April and soon came under fire from Fresh Pond Road business owners who were concerned that the loss of 70 parking spaces to make way for the bus lane would hurt them.
The DOT, however, said it was adding 60 metered parking spots to side streets to counter the loss. Many opponents argued that this would not make up for the lost Fresh Pond Road spaces.
In addition, Elkind said the DOT refused to listen to alternative measures to reduce congestion. For instance, the community board, he said, suggested synching the traffic lights, before constructing a bus lane.
Elkind said legal action was necessary to bring the DOT “to the negotiating table to enact some of these congestion reduction actions.”
“The Fresh Pond Road coalition today [Wednesday] initiated the filing of an article 78 proceeding to adjourn the operation of the bus lane, at least temporarily and to compel the DOT to implement congestion reduction actions which are sorely needed,” he added.
An Article 78 proceeding is used to appeal the decision of a New York State or local agency to the New York courts.
Elkind argued that without traffic reduction measures, the bus lane would fail.
“Basically the plan that they got for their bus lane doesn’t include any real congestion reduction actions,” Elkind said. “In the absence of such actions, this bus lane is most likely to fail, not deliver bus riders any of the promised benefits and potentially cause grave harm to the business community and jobs on Fresh Pond Road.”
However, some groups have spoken out in opposition of the lawsuit.
“The lawsuit filed to stop the bus lane on Fresh Pond Road is frivolous,” said Stephanie Burgos-Veras, Campaign Manager with the Riders Alliance. “It’s unfortunate that a small group of people are trying to block something that would benefit tens of thousands of riders.”
She argued that bus lanes help low-income New Yorkers and blocking their creation blocks their economic opportunity.
“When you block bus lanes, you block access to economic opportunity to bus riders who, on average, make $28K a year and are 86 percent people of color. Bus riders should have priority on New York City streets. This lawsuit should be dropped.”
The DOT did not immediately respond for comment.
The dot doesn’t give a damn for people who live in ridgewood paying rent and taxes now have to look forever for parking spots people shopping can’t find parking just so buses can make up 3 minutes as I said before no one at dot used half a brain to figure a better way they used the easy way out to screw the people of ridgewood.So I Thank the dot and so called mayor for ruining a great neighborhood.
28K a year my butt. When MTA workers are retiring making over 300,000 a year in overtime. Reportedly working his normal 8 hour shift then 16 hours OT PER DAY! if my math serves me right that mean they retired working 24 hours a day, everyday for over a year. Keep pulling our leg with how much MTA workers make. I wouldn’t believe anything they said or showed anyway.
Basically the city always wins and always gets their money from the working class. And in spite of numerous outbursts from the people and businesses of the community the mayor still does whatever he wants. Even if the bus lane is put into affect, there will undoubtedly be frustrated drivers who will drive through it regardless and I’m sure the mayor will post cops on every corner to not only drain the people from unnecessary metered parking tickets but also from riding in the bus lane. As a driver and resident in Ridgewood, just houses from Fresh Pond Road, the only time I felt any relief driving on Fresh Pond was when there were traffic officers moving the traffic along. I also felt safer walking around the metro and fresh pond intersection. There was more order and the traffic moved smoother. The upper ups are pushing the people out of New York, with rents and property taxes as high as they are and now I can’t even park in front of my own house. Tell De Blasio to do my commute for a week. Then talk to me about a bus lane.
“When you block bus lanes, you block access to economic opportunity to bus riders who, on average, make $28K a year and are 86 percent people of color.”…so if you oppose a dedicated bus lane you are a racist??? these people are beyond pathetic…the bus will still run without the dedicated lane…what gross hyperbole…these people should be ashamed 🙁
Blocking the bus lanes disproportionately affect poor people of color. This is just stating the facts that more disenfranchised people take the bus because they have no other option. No one ever said that opposing it makes you a racist, but I guess you had to jump to that conclusion….
All this does is take away parking on one side of the street for a few hours during rush hour. It’s ridiculous to get this worked up over it. The bus is incredibly slow and this helps reduce car traffic and makes everyone’s commute better.
I QUESS YOU DONT LIVE IN RIDGEWOOD YOU MUST BE A BUS DRIVER OR WORK FOR DOT SO WITHOUT BUS LANE IT TAKES 5 EXTRA MINUTES TO GET TO THE DEPOT THATS WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT NOT PEOPLE ON THE BUSES