In response to the recent pedestrian accidents that took the lives of 23-year-old Ella Bandes and of 60-year-old Edwin Torres, the MTA has rerouted the B26 and Q58 in Bushwick and Ridgewood. The new route has been officially unraveled on June 28, and the buses now instead of running uninterrupted along Wyckoff Avenue, turn onto Putnam Ave, Ridgewood Place, and Palmetto Street. But the affected residents are not very happy about the reroute calling it “a mere a band-aid over a flailing artery” of accidents in the neighborhood.
An organization called United Block Association For a Better Quality of Life has formed to fight against this bus reroute as “this plan is putting many of our residents, children and elderly in danger,” their website says. The members of the organization held a protest march on June 28.
“MTA brought it up in February and said they were going to alert residents and merchants. They didn’t,” said Flor Ramos, community member and active participant of UBA Quality of Life. Ramos said that the organization formed after concerned community members read the Ridgewood Times Newsweekly article.
“This street [Ridgewood Place] hasn’t been repaved in all 15 years that I’ve lived in this neighborhood until three weeks ago,” said a man who wished to stay anonymous, further stating that the paving of the road outside his apartment was how him and his neighbors knew something strange was happening.
Unfortunately because of the bus fumes, he is no longer able to have his window open, as the length of his front window to the curb on Woodbine measures five feet.
“On Sunday when we marched, the D.O.T. put up the NO PARKING signs,” said one woman.
The city failed to give the affected block notice that their cars could no longer park in 12 combined parking spots from Putnam Avenue and Ridgewood Place. The official no parking sign was written with a black marker on a white sheet of paper and was quite unofficial in appearance. She also explained that there was already a lack of parking spots available in the area, and that pre-reroute she had been forced to park on Cypress Avenue, several blocks away.
“We are not going to let them leave it like this. We will continue to march,” indicating that she, the community, and UBA Quality of Life will continue to push forward in their efforts to overturn the reroute.
“Yesterday was hilarious-you got three people that can’t even turn,” laughed an unnamed man over his observations on the second full day, Monday the 29.
This was a well-put, albeit lighthearted, way of pointing out the lurking danger that a city bus sets up for residential streets. In this moment, we both watched as a bus made its clunky turn onto Ridgewood Place from Putnam Avenue. The commercial streets are at least five feet larger in width, making them well equipped and capable of facilitating a 40-foot long bus.
“The sprinkler on Ridgewood Place is really popular with the kids,” noted Ara Mosley from Bushwick, inferring that the reroute is bound to disturb the habits and recreational activity of children in the area. The situation could provoke another tragic accident. “They’re [the MTA bus drivers] are going to expect frustration when they turn on that narrow street,” Mosley added. This brought up a very solid point: the sharp turn unnecessarily raising the MTA drivers’ stress.
Washington Irving’s Brooklyn Public Library Branch and Bushwick Public High School feed into Woodbine Street, which in turn feeds into Ridgewood Place, which then feeds into a Food Bazaar. To make things hairier, there is a daycare at the corner of Putnam and Ridgewood Place, as well as at the corner of Ridgewood Place and Palmetto Street. A couple short blocks from that is the Myrtle Wyckoff L and M train stop, where Palmetto Street bleeds people walking to and from.
These streets are heavily foot-trafficked and deserve the necessary assurance of safety.
Just to set the record straight, the phrase most commonly thrown around by the affected community members was “It’s [the reroute] crazy.”