Just days after a number of Dyker Heights residents made clear their disdain for the city’s parking regulations for tour buses visiting the storied “Dyker Lights,” the New York Police Department has cut back on its original plan.
Originally, bright pink signs were plastered along 86th Street from 10th through to 14th Avenues, along the park side, designating “tour bus only” parking from 3 p.m. to midnight, November 28 through January 3, a change that actually debuted last year though it appeared to have gone unremarked at the time.
Now, tour bus companies will only be given about a three-bus-long stretch, not for parking but for drop-off and pick-up of passengers, Thursday through Sunday only.
A police source broke down the change to this paper.
“Tour buses will drop their customers off at 86th Street between 11th and 12th Avenue in a designated area on the park side that’s about three buses in length,” the source said. “Once they drop passengers off, the buses will go to 14th Avenue and make a right turn to go around the golf course, so that they can park on Seventh Avenue, on the golf course side, facing 86th Street.” This area, the source said, is empty of vehicles at night, making it the ideal place for the buses to wait.
Once the companies’ tour guides are finished, the source said, they’ll speak to an on-duty officer, who will then call the bus drivers to pull up to the designated area for pick-up.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” the source said.
This change, which has already begun, will be in effect from 5 p.m. through 11 p.m., for three fewer hours.
In addition, the source said, next season, the 68th Precinct will be sending out e-mails approximately three months in advance.
Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann praised local police for their dedication to the issue.
“I have every confidence that the new police plan will help meet the same goals of vehicular and pedestrian safety for those who reside in Dyker Heights or are here as visitors to view the beautiful Christmas light displays,” she said. “Also important is that this year’s police plan assigns additional police officers for pedestrian and vehicular safety, and now includes a scaled-back area for drop offs made possible by police officers reaching out to schedule and stagger tour buses that are known (there is a possibility there may be more or less than last year) to travel to Dyker Heights. I also know that each year brings different challenges and I am sure if plans need to be further modified, those changes will be communicated and done in the best interest of public safety.”
The compromise is being celebrated by one well-known tour bus company.
“We’ve watched more and more of these outside companies come in every year,” said Tony Muia, owner of A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, which has been doing tours of the Dyker Heights lights for more than 10 years now. “They don’t know the neighborhood, so they park in driveways and drive up the side streets. We’ve always said to them, ‘Listen, you’re going to ruin it for everyone,’ and look what happened.”
Muia’s tours, which encompass not only Dyker Heights but also Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst, have always followed the regimen police have been trying to put in place.
“We’re always very organized,” he said, noting that, last year, a local resident jokingly referred to Muia and his team — clad each year in bright red jackets — as the neighborhood’s “guardian angels,” as they would help families cross the street and keep an eye out for overflowing trash cans. “We drop our passengers at 86th Street, just as everyone else should.
“A lot of these companies, they’re coming in, driving up and down side streets, dropping off anywhere they want and idling for long periods of time,” he went on. “They have no idea where they’re going.”
Muia told this paper that, while he is happy with the police department’s decision to scale back on the regulated parking, tour bus companies that are new to the nabe need to keep in spirit with the “Dyker Lights.”
“For us, it was always a matter of, yes, we’re going to do the bus tours,” he said, “but we’re going to respect the neighborhood, too.”