Members of the United We Stand Neighborhood Association, a newly formed civic group on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border, will be holding a march and rally in Ridgewood this Saturday to oppose the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) proposed plan to reroute the B26 and Q58 buses.
The MTA’s proposal would take these two buses off of Wyckoff Avenue and instead reroute them onto Ridgewood Place. The MTA cites dangerous turning conditions at the three-way intersection at Palmetto Street and Myrtle and Wyckoff avenues as well as heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic as reasons for the proposed changes.
This location has been the scene of many traffic-related injuries, several involving MTA buses, including the fatal accidents that killed Ella Kottick Bandes in 2013 and Edwin Torres in 2014.
“The whole idea of rerouting buses in the area of Myrtle and Wyckoff was due to the need to make traffic conditions safer for pedestrians,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5. “Unfortunately, two people were killed in vehicular accidents at that intersection. The decision on which blocks to reroute the buses to was studied by the MTA. This was done to save lives. The whole reasoning was for pedestrian safety.”
The United We Stand Neighborhood Association was formed in April of this year to combat this rerouting.
“We are a newly formed group,” said Flor Ramos, member of United We Stand Neighborhood Association, in a phone interview with the Ridgewood Times. “We got together mainly because of the situation with the bus rerouting. Nobody wants those buses around there.”
Protesters will assemble at the intersection of Putnam and Wyckoff avenues at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. They will begin their protest at noon and march along Putnam Avenue to Ridgewood Place, ending on Palmetto Street, which is the proposed new route for the buses.
“Now it’s totally going to affect our quality of life,” Ramos said. “There is the noise issue and the fumes. Now you will have double the noise from screeching breaks and compressed air making that horrible bus noise echoing through the streets. We won’t be able to leave our windows open. These are all residential house along this new route. Wyckoff Avenue is all commercial.”
Currently, the Q58 travels down Putnam Avenue, turns right onto Wyckoff Avenue and right again on Palmetto Street, where the Ridgewood Terminal is located. The B26 travels straight down Wyckoff Avenue to Palmetto Street to the Ridgewood Terminal.
“That intersection is the beginning of our commercial district,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, who supports the bus route changes. “Since day one, we have been working with the city for the mayor’s Vision Zero plan and have advocated for improvements in that area.”
The proposed changes would have the Q58 turn right onto Ridgewood Place, then right again on Palmetto Street, while the B26 would turn left onto Putnam Avenue, right onto Ridgewood Place and right onto Palmetto Street.
“Overall, the buses will be making five new turns with this new route,” Ramos explained. “The B26 will add three more turns and the Q58 will add two more turns. They will be taking the accidents from there and bring them to the new location. That is going to cause a lot more problems.”
Members of United We Stand Neighborhood Association believe that moving the bus routes to Ridgewood Place would put more children and elderly at risk since the streets of the proposed reroute are very narrow, which would make it difficult for a bus to turn.
“Sending out a bus through there, all they’re doing is bringing that problem to our streets,” Ramos said. “There is nothing they can do about making the streets wider.”
“You have wider streets on Wyckoff and Palmetto,” Ramos continued. “There is about a 5-foot difference in width. The sidewalks on Wyckoff are much wider, giving bus drivers a better view of pedestrians passing through there.”