Council Member Laurie Cumbo Opposes Fulton Street Bus Lane

Cumbo is fighting a transit improvement that will benefit tens of thousands of people in an area where about two-thirds of households don't own cars.

The city's plan to extend bus lanes on Fulton Street. Image: DOT
The city's plan to extend bus lanes on Fulton Street. Image: DOT

Council Member Laurie Cumbo wants DOT to scale back bus lanes planned for Fulton Street in Fort Greene.

In posts yesterday on Facebook and Instagram, Cumbo approvingly shared a photo of a small group of demonstrators outside the Key Food at 991 Fulton Street, whose owners are against the bus lanes. “Buses Only = Bad Business” read a typical sign.

Brooklyn council member Laurie Cumbo. Photo: William Alatriste for the New York City Council
Council Member Laurie Cumbo. Photo: William Alatriste for the New York City Council

About half the demonstrators — Lucy Koteen, Schellie HaganJoe Gonzalez, and Community Board 2 member Ernest Augustus — have fought every attempt to reallocate car space in the neighborhood for years. By siding with them, Cumbo is fighting a transit improvement that will benefit tens of thousands of people in an area where about two-thirds of households don’t own cars.

Each day, bus riders make almost 20,000 trips on the B25 and B26, important links to downtown Brooklyn from Bed Stuy and points east. East of Flatbush Avenue they move at a snail’s pace during the busiest times of day. At peak hours, when ridership is highest, the buses travel between 7 and 8 mph, according to DOT.

To speed up bus trips, the city plans to replace curbside parking on Fulton Street between Grand Avenue and Lafayette Avenue with rush hour bus lanes, which would be in effect on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. westbound and from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. eastbound [PDF]. It would basically be a rush-hour extension of existing bus lanes between Lafayette and Flatbush, and the Fulton Street transit mall.

In her social media post, Cumbo said car parking is more important: “The challenge with the Department of Transportation’s proposal to implement a ‘buses only’ lane along Fulton Street between Grand and Lafayette avenues is the removal of much-needed parking for residents and small businesses.”

Bus lane opponents yesterday outside Key Food. Photo: Facebook/Council Member Laurie Cumbo
Bus lane opponents yesterday outside Key Food. Photo: Facebook/Council Member Laurie Cumbo

Cumbo took particular issue with the 2-7 p.m. eastbound bus lane, which will speed B25/B26 trips at the time when ridership is highest and bus speeds are lowest. Reducing that five-hour window would be another compromise at bus riders’ expense: The city already scaled back bus lane hours at the behest of CB 2 in response to feedback from Fulton Street businesses.

In February, DOT reps told members of Brooklyn Community Board 2 that much of the bus-slowing congestion is due to double-parking and deliveries, according to Brooklyn Paper. The agency surveyed businesses on the street and found their delivery hours were concentrated in, though not limited to, the middle of the day.

With private parking allowed to take up the curb, deliveries can wreak havoc. The most recent images of the Key Food on Google Street View show parked cars and delivery trucks blocking the entire eastbound side of the street:

This can't be making bus service -- our private auto traffic -- any faster. Photo: Google Maps
This rig is stopped in the middle of Fulton Street. Photo: Google Maps

Cumbo claimed the plan would negatively affect “small businesses who provide jobs and access to critical resources such as groceries to residents of all ages — particularly our families and seniors.”

But these stores are serving an area where people get around by walking and transit. Most people don’t own cars and they’re not driving a few blocks to pick up groceries. A short walk away, businesses have thrived for decades on the transit-priority Fulton Mall, where car access is much more restricted than what DOT is proposing for these blocks. It’s the buses and the trains that are bringing customers.

You’d never know it from Cumbo’s post, but bus riders are also “families and seniors” who need “access to critical resources” in the neighborhood.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Sounds like a good excuse to eliminate the bus route, and blame Cumbo. Save the money, and let her take credit for the additional parking spaces.

    People are abandoning local buses, because at the pace they travel, they are useless. And there is a subway right underground, where service could be added just by running full-length C trains.

    As the MTA goes broke as a result of Generation Greed, I predict that most regular bus service will disappear in areas also served by the subway. Either it will be in separate bus lanes with at least some BRT features, or gone.

  • JarekFA

    This is just a failure in democracy. If dedicated bus lanes can’t work here, then there’s no place in the US they could possibly work. This is dense residential in which the majority don’t own cars and the buses move slow as fuck. DoT — it’s about time you tell some of these CMs to fuck off.

  • When a legislator with constituents who are overwhelmingly not car owners cannot be counted on to stand firmly on the side of serving the interests of bus passengers, something is dreafully wrong. And if that legislator fails to understand that those interests coincide with the interests of the local businesses, then the situation is hopeless.

  • JarekFA

    When they say it’s necessary for residents to park their cars, I want to explode. I’m trying to hang my bike outside my co-op/apt while also keeping it guarded from the elements — that shit takes finesse. But why yes, let’s totally allow any joe shmo to park right outside my apt. That’s the most efficient use. Will any CM go to bat for residents who need safe and secured covered bike parking on public property? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH It’d take up like a single parking spot.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Immigrants can’t vote. Young people tend to be transient and not vote until they settle down somewhere. Poor people tend not to vote, and to be manipulated when they do. And nobody but those who are part of the tribe run for public office.

    Who does that leave, in districts such as Cumbos? Placard holders.

    Those standing up for the serfs peddling around and on buses really are the outsiders in their own political tribe.

  • Vooch

    meanwhile

  • HamTech87

    Sounds like an area ripe for Riders Alliance organizing.

  • Joe R.

    I’m just thinking of the sheer absurdity of the situation you describe, where you’re hanging your bike outside your apartment (any pictures as I’m curious exactly how you manage this?) for lack of space to park it, yet motorists demand and get free curbside space, even in areas with hideously expensive real estate. The situation is even more absurd given that you can fit maybe 10 to 15 bikes in the space of one car. If your building has a garage, no reason they can’t reserve one of two parking spots for bikes.

  • Simon Phearson

    I hear ya. My apartment’s on a street with free parking up and down the block, both sides. The owners of the houses up the street all have paved over their yards and park their cars there, so it’s not like they need the street space. But there’s no feasible place outside to park a bike, to say nothing of actual racks. I pay for it, both at home and at work.

  • Marlene Steele

    Bike riders need to be licensed and pay insurance just like motor vehicle drivers. How dare you say anything and you ride your bike for free. This is your choice to ride a bike. All bikers need to be charged monthly insurance to ride a bike. A biker hit my back light and damaged my car and rode off. What happened to him nothing. I could not identify him. It would be safer for bikers and drivers if bikers were registered and could be identified just a motorists are identified. This would generate much needed funds for the city also.

  • Marlene Steele

    I’m so sick of bike riders getting a free ride and continue complaining when they do not have to pay a dime and cause havoc on the streets. They need to be licensed and pay insurance. You need to pay. Bikers have such entitlement issues when they don’t pay a dime. Pay insurance and then complain until then you should have nothing to say. It’s very expensive to drive a car in this city.

  • Joe R.

    I really hope your post was satire. If it isn’t then you really have a warped understanding of basic economics.

    Free ride? I’m not exempt from sales tax because I ride a bike. The income tax forms don’t have an exemption for cyclists either. I pay way more in taxes than what it costs the city to let me use the streets. Motorists are the ones getting the free ride. Do you have any idea how much that curbside space which the city graciously lets you use to store your personal property is worth? I might not care if the city also let non-car owners use that space for containers to store their personal property but that’s not the case.

    Most of the car expenses car owners pay are to private companies, not the city. The fact owning a car may be expensive doesn’t entitle you to freebies from the city any more than paying for an expensive house or apartment does. You chose a more expensive mode of transit instead of something cheap like a bike, walking, or the subway. Maybe when you pay for those parking spots then I’ll agree your entitled to them but not before.

    Just curious but do you pay the medical expenses of people who get sick from the junk coming out of your exhaust? Didn’t think so. Maybe you need to pay, not me.

  • Joe R.

    Maybe the cyclist (not “biker”) hit your back light because you cut him off. I took out someone’s door once when they didn’t bother looking before opening it. And I’ve taken out a few mirrors because people double parked in the bike lane. 100% their fault, not mine. I’ve never damaged any vehicle which was being driven safely or parked legally.

    Funny that motorists are registered and insured but this doesn’t seem to make things safer, especially for the 200+ people motorists kill in this city each year. The only reason you’re suggesting registering and insuring cyclists is because you know damned well most cyclists will give up riding if that’s the case. And that’s exactly what you want.

  • JarekFA

    How dare I ride my bike for free? My bike takes up very little space and does minimal wear and tear. As a society we should be encouraging bike usage and discouraging private car usage because there is limited public space so we should encourage the most efficient uses (such as bikes and buses and not private car usage).

    But why am I arguing with someone who’s, ya know, a total fucking idiot. I pay more in NYS taxes then you do. The roads are for me too.

  • qrt145

    Having never taken out a mirror, I’m curious. Were these crashes between your handlebar and the mirror? Doesn’t that throw you off-balance? Or was it something like this? https://youtu.be/Pn6ie1zCkZU?t=38

  • Joe R.

    It was my handlebar hitting the mirror. Mirrors on a lot of cars break off pretty easily. Also, I saw it coming and braced for it. What usually caused it in the first place was going around a double-parked car, then getting squeezed because the jackass in the traffic lane couldn’t be bothered to move over a foot or so. Now I just try to time maneuvers like that so nobody is next to me when I’m going around double-parked cars.

  • Marlene Steele

    Excuse me I pay in services I am a non profit and trust me I pay SENIORS, YOUTH AND NEEDY. I FED 500 SENIORS FOR THANKSGIVING. WHO DID YOU FEED????? HOW DO YOU GET IDENTIFIED WHEN A CYCLISTS CAUSE ACCIDENTS. I CAN BE IDENTIFIED HOWEVER I COULD NOT IDENTIFY THE CYCLIST THAT HIT MY CAR AND DESTROYED MY BACK LIGHT AND PUT A DENT IN MY CAR. HE RODE OFF ON HIS BIKE. I DO NOT HAVE THE SAME LUXURY IF I DAMAGE SOMEONE OR SOMETHING WITH MY VEHICLE. I AM HELD ACCOUNTABLE. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT CYCLISTS SHOULD NOT BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.? DO I FEEL A SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT HERE. EVERYONE SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR TRANSPORTATION.

  • Joe R.

    Bicycle licensing/registration schemes aren’t remotely practical. Even assuming you have a license plate on the bike, that doesn’t positively identify the rider. Bikes get stolen all the time. And plates would get stolen or counterfeited if we required bicycle registration.

    Cyclists damaging motor vehicles are a rarity. Just because it happened to you doesn’t mean it’s something which merits a draconian punishment of all cyclists. You never mentioned whether the incident was caused by you or the cyclist, either.

    Should pedestrians be registered and licensed as well? A pedestrian can kick a car or cause damage, too.

  • fdtutf

    DO I FEEL A SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT HERE. EVERYONE SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR TRANSPORTATION.

    Unconscious irony alert!

  • Marlene Steele

    Whether or not you believe me is as insignificant as your dumb ass is. You need to go back to the city or little town you came from and ride your bike.

  • Joe R.

    I’m in the city I came from. I was born in NYC and lived here all of my nearly 55 years. I’ve also been riding a bike for over 39 years.

    Just curious but what the fuck is your problem coming here with such a nasty attitude? If you said shit like this to me in person I’d wipe the floor with you.

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