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New bus lane will make Jewish holidays unbearable: Synagogue members

Not having it: Audience members slammed the city’s plan to redesing Church Avenue and improve slugginsh bus speeds there, with one man heckling DOT reps and ranting about cyclists not following the rules of the road, at Beth Shalom v’Emeth Reform Temple on July 30.
Brooklyn Paper
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City transit honchos need to rethink their scheme to sacrifice parking in order to build a dedicated bus lane through Ditmas Park, according to members of a local synagogue, who claim the plan will transform their high holidays into a traffic nightmare.

“During the high holidays, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the other Jewish holidays, it’s going to be a jungle here trying to find parking,” said Ron Schweiger, who regularly drives 20 minutes from his home in Flatlands to attend services at Beth Shalom v’Emeth Reform Temple, located at the corner of Church Avenue and Marlborough Road.

The Department of Transportation wants to eliminate 113 parking spaces on Church Avenue between Ocean Parkway and E. 16th Street to make way for the new lane, which would be reserved for buses from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday to improve service to four different bus routes that rely on the congested thoroughfare.

The agency would also add 59 new metered spaces along seven side streets — six of which would get new loading zones — and on Coney Island Avenue, as well as reduce the length of time that meter spots on Church Avenue between E. 16th Street and Flatbush Avenue can be used from one hour down to a slim 15 minutes.

Dozens of congregates and community members gathered at the Marlborough Road synagogue Tuesday to discuss the plan with Brooklyn Transit Commissioner Keith Bray, many of whom were not thrilled with the scheme to eliminate so much parking, which one temple goer said would hit elderly and disabled congregants the hardest.

“This organization has a significant number of elderly and older individuals who take Access-A-Ride, who drive here, because they do not live close by and they cannot take the bus,” said Flatbush resident Loren Levinson.

Levinson went on to argue that the agency’s plan will upset their Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest that stretches from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and favors Christian churchgoers by not having a bus lane on Sundays, too.

“The congregation comes at Fridays starting at 5 p.m. and Saturday and there’s already no parking. To have a plan that’s operating six days a week, why is it not operating on Sunday, why should it also not operate on Saturday,” she said.

One heckler continuously interrupted the transit official throughout the meeting, while Councilman Matthieu Eugene — who organized the gathering — struggled to maintain order, even as the protester started ranting about city cyclists, which was not a topic of discussion.

“I watch you cyclists break the law every day. I have to look at Twitter and watch my beautiful officers target and ticket double-parked cars because the cyclists don’t want to obey their laws. Don’t waste my taxes, don’t waste my time,” the man shouted as other audience members told him to sit down and “shut up.”

While the greater part of Bray’s audience Tuesday seemed opposed to the bus-lane plan, the DOT honcho was buoyed by a slightly smaller group of Brooklyn transit advocates, who defended the city’s mission of serving the vast majority of Brooklyn commuters, who rely on public transportation over cars.

“The bottom line for me is that DOT’s job and their responsibility to the people of New York is to move people and not to provide any free or subsidized parking,” said Travis Eby, a Park Slope resident and a member of the transit advocacy group Riders Alliance. “A minority of drivers and car owners are upset that the city is no longer giving them something for free that is incredibly detrimental to the functioning of our streets.”

Eby’s argument is supported by Department of Transportation data, which showed that more than twice as many people along the Church Avenue corridor relied on buses for transportation over trucks and cars, and the advocate urged Bray not to give in to what he described as a vocal minority.

“They’re used to going unchallenged at these meetings and bullying civil servants that put a lot of hard work into these plans,” he said. “I hope they don’t water the plan down.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Posted 12:00 am, August 1, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
I didn't realize that it was against the Jewish faith to ride a bus. The city should make the bus lane on Sundays too so that Christians have the opportunity to take advantage of it.
Aug. 1, 2019, 6:43 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
This city would be better off if Travis Eby were the DOT commissioner.
Aug. 1, 2019, 6:46 am
Freesia from Park Slope says:
What about bicycle parking??
Aug. 1, 2019, 6:58 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
...eyeroll. More magical sky-daddy nonsense.
Aug. 1, 2019, 7:52 am
Hillary from Prison says:
Ban all religion, problem solved. You wanna pray? Do it at home.
Aug. 1, 2019, 9:27 am
G from NYC says:
Gee, I wonder how long until politicians start telling DOT to back off?
Aug. 1, 2019, 9:33 am
Dan from Park Slope says:
May I recommend they take the bus or train, given that they're not supposed to be driving anyway by their own religious rules?
Aug. 1, 2019, 9:52 am
Frank from Furter says:
If they are highly observant they cant ride a car either on the Sabbath.
Aug. 1, 2019, 9:56 am
Tyler from pps says:
Luckily the DOT is ignoring this pointless whining.
Aug. 1, 2019, 10:08 am
JD from Gravesend says:
Typical ——ing for the sake of ——ing, “This organization has a significant number of elderly and older individuals who take Access-A-Ride,..." If you take Access-A-Ride you DON'T need a parking spot! and I agree with the lot of you, they can't drive during the high-holy days and sabbath. Come up with a better argument than hiding behind religion.
Aug. 1, 2019, 11:41 am
concerned from Greenwood says:
I hate people that double park in Brooklyn. Ticket the lazy drivers that park in the middle of the street for their own convenience. Jerks
Aug. 1, 2019, 11:51 am
The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
No wonder there are much lower ridership along the B35 bus route: It's because it's slow that was caused by double parking and inadequate traffic light consistency, giving priority to pedistrians more time to cross intersections along Church Av, thanks to the Dysfunctional DOT. I'm not surprised that small businesses and car drivers are crying privilege and poverty over tens of thousands of of B35 bus riders.
Aug. 1, 2019, 12:16 pm
Janet from Park Slope says:
A bogus complaint: If it's hard for you to get around, it's also tough to walk from a parking spot on the high holidays, when demand is so high and you will have to walk from the space you find. Use Uber or a car service.
Aug. 1, 2019, 1:24 pm
Tamar from Midwood says:
Legitimate concern. There’s a lot of veiled AntiSemitism displayed in some of the comments, This issue is rational and should be be discussed with out thowing in bigoted remarks.
Aug. 1, 2019, 5:44 pm
Elizabeth from Cherokee Nation says:
Leftists are rabidly infected with antisemitism. They are incapable of discussing anything rationally without their hatred shining through.
Aug. 1, 2019, 7:44 pm
Jeff Harris from Madison says:
First of all, those who responded about Jewish law and riding on the Sabbath probably are not aware that the synagogue where this meeting was held is affiliated with the Reform branch of Judaism, which has different rules than the Orthodox, whose rule you referred to. More significantly, there is a strong lack of sensitivity underlying many of the comments, both as to religious differences and to age or disability. Without going into specifics, the level of intolerance is very disturbing.
Aug. 1, 2019, 10:58 pm
Jym from PLG says:
@Janet - "Use Uber" is never good advice, given their hostility to transit and admitted agenda of damaging it, plus firing up an app has its own issues. A car service, you can call ahead before Friday sundown. Overall the bus lane complaint seems to be steeped in insularity, not actual spiritual concerns.
Aug. 2, 2019, 12:43 am
Rashida Wong Foo Jenkins says:
Typical - these people have bus privilege! “Oh, we take the bus! That makes us more important than you! You don’t count! Just take the bus” people, this is privilege! Hello, racism?!?
Aug. 2, 2019, 1:33 am
Twizzlers from Crown Heights says:
I understand the concerns expressed here: "“During the high holidays, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the other Jewish holidays, it’s going to be a jungle here trying to find parking." On the other hand, as someone who rides the bus regularly in Brooklyn, I have noticed that the rides on certain routes (like the B35 or the B41) are frequently slow. I'd appreciate anything than can be done to speed things up, and riders along that route probably will as well. If someone can come up with a better idea (that would be a compromise), I'd like to hear it. Maybe have the B35 detour on high holy days?
Aug. 2, 2019, 10:55 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
In all honesty, I don't think placing a special bus lane will make any buses run better. As long as there is little to no enforcement on those parking in bus stops and double parking, nothing will change. Unfortunately, the anti-car fanatics over at TA won't like this if it doesn't give motorists the royal screw job when it comes to driving and parking. BTW, not all of those who are going to services on Saturday are en route subway and bus lines that won't require them to drive.
Aug. 2, 2019, 3:06 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
In all honesty, I don't think placing a special bus lane will make any buses run better. As long as there is little to no enforcement on those parking in bus stops and double parking, nothing will change. Unfortunately, the anti-car fanatics over at TA won't like this if it doesn't give motorists the royal screw job when it comes to driving and parking. BTW, not all of those who are going to services on Saturday are en route subway and bus lines that won't require them to drive.
Aug. 2, 2019, 3:06 pm

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