CB 10 opposes bus bulbs

Community Board 10 has taken a stand against proposed “bus bulbs” for key intersections along Westchester Avenue in Pelham Bay and Zerega.

The board voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal opposing the Department of Transportation’s plans to construct bus bulbs at four intersections along Westchester Avenue on Thursday, March 15, with just one abstention. The intersections in the CB 10 service area that would be affected would be Buhre Avenue, Middletown Road, Zerega Avenue and the Castle Hill Avenue.

The “bus bulbs” were first reviewed by the Municipal Services Committee in the fall of 2011, with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Design and Construction making presentations to the municipal services committee. The board’s resolution, approved at its March general meeting, found that the concrete build-outs designed to aid in pedestrian safety “will be a hindrance to local business and will exacerbate traffic flow.”

“Having reviewed and discussed the DOT’s proposal since October and understanding the safety aspects of their proposal, in our opinion the perceived benefits are limited and they do not outweigh the detriments in terms of reduced parking, increased traffic congestion and hindrances on business owners,” said Joseph Russo, chairman of Community Board 10’s municipal services committee. “Therefore, we have decided to reject their proposal outright.”

The bulbs, concrete pedestrian islands that extend out from the sidewalk, would be installed as part of the DOT’s Safe Corridors for Public Transit program, backed by a federal grant that is designed to provide a safer way for bus riders to get on the bus without having to stand out in the street.

The problem with the bus bulbs is that the Department of Transportation never consulted with the local communities to see if they wanted them installed at busy intersections along the Westchester Avenue commercial corridor, said board member and merchant leader Bob Bieder.

“As always, we are an advisory board, and we have no way of knowing what the DOT is going to do with this vote,” Bieder stated. “They haven’t gotten back to us in several months, or answered our questions, so we decided to go on the record on this.”

The DOT is mistaken if they believe that the bus bulbs, which will build out into the service lane under the elevated train traffic in an effort to facilitate pedestrian safety at bus stops and crosswalks, won’t hurt traffic flow and create congestion, Bieder stated.

The DOT is saying that motorists should not drive in the service lane under the el, which in this proposal would be blocked at certain intersections, Bieder said.
“I am not sure what world they are living in,” Bieder said.

Pedestrian safety at bus stops under the el is also a concern on Jerome Avenue, which runs beneath the No. 4 line, according to a source.

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