It’s a real sign of confusion on Washington Avenue

for The Brooklyn Paper
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It may be the longest, and the most-confusing, bus stop in all of Brooklyn — and it’s running roughshod over Prospect Heights drivers.

Car owners are being ticketed on the west side of Washington Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets because a missing lamppost — removed during construction of an apartment building — has created a double-length bus stop.

And, to make matters more confusing, a “No parking” sign on the block offers conflicting information on its two sides: the side facing the street, which drivers see, suggests that cars can legally park in the bus zone, while the side facing the sidewalk, which parking enforcement officers see, says that they can’t.

As a result, drivers don’t realize that they’re actually in what is technically still the bus stop.

“People come in all the time and ask me if it’s OK to park there,” said Steve Guidi, the co-owner of Café Ortine, which has a front row seat on the confusion. “And I tell them ‘No!’ You get a fine or towed if you’re very unlucky.”

Because of the missing lightpost, the bus zone is roughly 120 feet long — about twice the length of a normal bus zone, according to unscientific Brooklyn Paper measurements. But because the lamppost is not there, the two-faced “No parking sign” is causing the problem.

Drivers think they’re in the clear, as long as they avoid parking during street cleaning hours on Monday and Thursday, because the street side of the “No parking” sign has an arrow indicating that parking is legal to the south of the sign during the rest of the day.

But on the sidewalk side, the same sign indicates that there’s no parking at any time south of the sign.

“I regularly see cars being ticketed and towed from same location on days and times when parking should be allowed according to the street side of the sign,” said one driver who has been monitoring the situation ever since he received just such a ticket several months ago.

Indeed, there’s no way for drivers to know exactly where the bus stop ends — unless they look at the sidewalk side of the sign. And enforcement officers are writing the $115 “bus zone” parking tickets even though the “No parking” sign itself is unclear.

Guidi said agents “get people there all the time.”

“I’ve gotten more than one ticket there myself for parking in a bus stop,” Guidi added. “But if you get it once I guess it’s your fault after that.”

Ortine co-owner Sarah Peck has been steamed up over the confusion.

“I’ve grilled cops when I see them giving tickets,” she said. “It’s really ambiguous, but they love it because it’s really unclear.”

Peck said there should be a new sign marking the actual end of the bus stop, or a painted curb to give some warning to drivers. “The bus stop is several cars longer than it should be,” she said.

“It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. If enough people complain eventually they’ll put up a sign.”

Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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