Eyes on the Street: Breakfast in the Bike Lane

The sun rose in the east today. In other news, a cycling Streetsblog reader found her path to work impeded by New York’s Finest.

Attached is a photo I took at 7:54 this morning on the Broadway bike lane between 57th and 58th streets. The squad car parked in the bike lane contained two police officers eating breakfast. I stopped, got off my bike, took the picture (they flashed their lights), waved, and continued biking.

No word on whether the cops involved were dining on doughnuts while completely disrespecting bike-riding commuters and putting lives at risk. Nah. That would be too much to ask.

  • Zulu

    I see this happening at least every other day. How frustrating! I like the idea of taking a picture of the perps. I’m going to start carrying a camera with me now. Maybe if we start to send a picture to the mayor on a daily basis the behaviour will change.

  • Zulu, while I encourage you in your efforts, and I will and do the same, I hope you understand there will be “varied reactions” to you photographing cops in their natural element. Fair or not.
    And props to this biker, she did the right thing.

  • Lois Carsbad

    They had to carbo-load before driving into Central Park to ticket cyclists!

  • Zulu

    Moocow, thanks for the “heads up”! My plan is to be more covert than the biker posting this picture. It is obvious that her brass set is bigger than mine.

  • fdr

    The Mayor will forward the picture to Ray Kelly. End of story.

  • Nixta

    Oh come on. I’m a NY cyclist, and I can see that this would be annoying, but “putting lives at risk”? Why not cut the hyperbole? It’s clear from the photo that there’s no way in hell anyone could drive past the side of that car with that snow there.

    The only cyclist in danger from that cop car would be blind, stupid, not paying attention, riding too fast, or any combination of the above.

    The lanes are for our convenience and to help with our safety, but they’re not there as blind tunnels so we can just dispense with our own responsibilities as safe cyclists.

  • LOLcat

    Why couldn’t they just park in the greyed out portion? Sheesh.

  • Nixta

    Well, yeah, that too.

  • jon

    hell even on 60 minutes last sunday they interviewed a cop sitting in his cop car parked in a bike lane talking to lady gaga

  • Chris

    Nixta so what about the times when there is no snow and the squad car parks in the bike lane?

    In the grand scheme of things it’s not hyperbole.

  • ddartley

    The bigger/better the bike lane, the less this will be a problem. Consider this (nearby, incidentally): http://www.flickr.com/photos/10798592@N08/5283037234/

    I’m somewhat with Nixta on this. Sure, I subscribe to the radical, dangerous notion that cops should adhere to all rules and laws, and they shouldn’t be there, but considering that this particular behavior is never completely going away, I don’t think this is a biggie. And was the doughnuts thing really necessary?

  • ddartley
  • Pete

    @ddartly, @Nixta – it’s easy to excuse this behavior as “not a big deal,” but frankly, the NYPD are supposed to be the professionals, and to set an example. Seeing the NYPD break laws like this simply encourages disrespect for the NYPD, and also encourages others to do the same. What about taxi drop offs? Deliveries? Double-parking in the bike lane? Would you be ok with those?

    Add to this the fact that there have been previous complaints from riders who have gotten ticketed for going outside of the bike lane to avoid NYPD cars parked *in* the bike lane.

    The NYPD can, and should, do better. Laziness is a lousy excuse for bad behavior.

  • On that block of Broadway there are no cars allowed in the gray portion of the lane on the left of the picture. There’s no obstacle to bicycles going around the RMP.

    I don’t understand myself how this incident has “put lives at risk,” but I’m certain that if I asked that question directly someone more conscious than I would respond by citing that study from last week about how cycle tracks are safer than on-street bike lanes.

  • Nixta

    @Pete: You’re even quoting things that weren’t written in attributing sentiments to me that I never expressed. I am not excusing anything. And there is a difference (perhaps comprised of a sense of context with a dollop of common sense) between being OK with something and condoning it.

    @Chris: This article is not about the grand scheme of things. It’s about this specific incident.

    You should not park in a bike lane. However, you should also not ride your bike like a self-righteous moron unburdened by the weight of consequence. And you should stop painting the police as a collective of cyclist-hating donut-chomping yahoos out to get you.

    We all share the road. We all have responsibilities in doing that. This article foments something quite contrary to that.

    And I stick by my assertion that it would take a tremendous amount of all the qualities that make for a very bad cyclist indeed to have one’s life put in danger by this cop car, even though they should not have been parked where they were.

  • Danny G

    Yeah gotta agree with Nixta about the hyperbole. This story seems more well-suited to Curbed. I would hope Streetsblog at least uses it as an opportunity to remind people of the existence of NYPD Community Council Meetings. 🙂

  • Joe R.

    I’m taking a different opinion here. If we want police to look the other way for some cyclist violations ( like passing red lights on empty streets ) and otherwise be reasonable when dealing with cyclists, then we should cut them a little slack. That’s why I don’t make a big deal when I see police go through lights when not on call, or yes, park in bike lanes to eat. As long as they leave room to safely go around them, as looks to be the case here, it’s not something I have a problem with. Sure, I absolutely agree police as professionals should set an example, but at the same time they’re human beings who occasionally do dumb things. Bottom line, if we make life hard for police by reporting every little minor transgression, they in turn could easily make life impossible for us cyclists. Stick to reporting only the big stuff, where police obviously cross the line.

  • Suzanne

    Except that if you ride around the city for any amount of time you’ll see that the NYPD are some of the worst offenders of traffic laws in the city. They ALWAYS park in the goddam bike lanes, often positioning themselves in the perfect place where a cyclist has to ride out into traffic. They CONSTANTLY run red lights, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen them drive like a bunch of drunk monkeys in Prospect Park.

    The point is: Police should not be egregiously breaking laws. I don’t see how anyone could possibly find anything to disagree with that idea.

    Then again, this is New York, where cyclists are ticketed hundreds of dollars for going through red lights when there are no pedestrians or cars around. Cars parking in the middle of our lanes, forcing vulnerable cyclists out into traffic, is fine, tho.

  • The point is that the police car in the bike lane has become a quintessential New York image — as cliché as that of a cop having a doughnut. That’s all.

    That said, we can split hairs all day, but a car parked in a bike lane is an “accident” waiting to happen.

  • Joe R.

    I’ll agree, Suzanne and Brad, that a police car shouldn’t block a bike lane in such a manner as to force cyclists out into traffic. That falls into where they cross the line, in my opinion. Oddly enough, here in Flushing I’m just not seeing many police blocking bike lanes. Then again, the local streets here with Dunkin’ Donuts don’t have bike lanes.

  • Doug

    Isn’t internal affairs supposed to police the police? Has anyone contacted them to find out what their policy is on, say, police who abuse their status, whether parking in the bike lane or running red lights when not on call?

  • Tsuyoshi

    Parking in the bike lane, running red lights, speeding, parking on the sidewalk, driving on the wrong side of the street, making illegal u-turns – the cops in this city are the biggest assholes out of anyone when it comes to driving. And you can be sure that anywhere there is a police station, there are bound to be a lot of parking violations. For whatever reason, this “internal affairs” is not very effective.

  • J:Lai

    Just one more reason why the police deptartment should not get cars.

  • T.R.

    You’ve got this all wrong. They are waiting in the bike lane so that the next ambulance that gets stuck in traffic can’t go around them either.

  • Debbie

    I take pictures all the time of officers parked in the bike lanes. I’ve even had discussion with these cops as well that usually result in them saying, “We are on official police business.” In which I answer, “Really? Come on, you set the example and if you do this is makes it seem like it’s ok for other drivers.” Then I take my pictures and ride away (and now that I found this blow I’ll post them). Seriously, could I get in trouble for taking a photo?

  • EP

    While I agree that cars parked in bike lanes are definitely a problem, I also feel that this particular transgression is not one that puts a cyclist in immediate danger. Could they have chosen a more appropriate place to park? Absolutely.

    The Bway bike lane at this location is wide enough to accomodate a parked NYP vehicle because it includes extra space for pedestrians and it is protected from general motor traffic. In the past, riding uptown on 8th ave above 42nd street has been horrific because of double parked cars (particularly near the precinct at 54th). I won’t even go to the place where i start complaining about peds in the bike lane near Port Authority in this post. But recently, I have noticed that the lanes have been relatively clear of both both NYPD and other motorists. I don’t depend on this route daily, so my view may be skewed. If this is true, however, then I think we have to assume due credit to the NYPD. In fact, I witnessed for the first time in my travels a cop actually pull over to ticket a commercial vehicle blocking the lane.

    And in reference to the ambulance having to use the PPW bike lane and the biased news story by Marcia Kramer…

    This past Sunday morning, I was biking to work at around 8am and was in the Bway bike lane. Somewhere around 54th or 55th street, a cop car must have gotten an emergency call. It turned on it’s flashing lights, drove forward and over to the bike lane. It proceeded to drive backwards through the lane(on the pedestrian side) to be able to maneuver to the appropriate cross street. There was almost no motor traffic at the time, so it wasn’t avoiding traffic jams of any nature. The car backed up pretty fast, but it did so respectfully. And yes, I still behaved like a motorist, pulling to the side and stopping.

    In this isolated situation, I think the actions were appropriate. There were no other cyclists or peds in the lane. Motor traffic was negligible. But had they performed the same maneuver in a car lane, there would have been a higher possibility of an accident. I felt the cop car recognized my presence and made a fairly appropriate decision. Hopefully, the choices he/ she made allowed them torespond to a call more quickly.

  • I don’t know EP, that sounds pretty dangerous to me. What about when pedestrians walk into the bike lane only looking one direction (if any direction) as is always happening? If they’re hit by a wrong way cyclist, they’re bruised and very upset. If they’re hit by a wrong way police car in the wrong place (but for a Good Reason), they’re seriously injured or dead.

    The reason I’m not scandalized by the words “putting lives at risk” above is, well, one thing leads to another. First they’re eating breakfast while parked in a bicycle lane for some reason, then they’re taking a shortcut through the bicycle lane backwards, then, I don’t want to find out what’s next. Normalizing the presence of police cars in separated bicycle lanes significantly erodes the protection and the piece of mind that those lanes provide. There are plenty of other lanes available to motorized vehicles including those on an emergency, and procedures to give them way. If that is not working, the solution is not to violently invade the bicycle lane (all Marcia Kramer joking aside).

    And there’s a lot to be said about managing emergency traffic, in general: http://www.slate.com/id/2253638/

  • EP

    Nathan, I agree about many points you bring up. Had it been at a different time or day, the cop car’s actions could have been extremely dangerous. But, in this one isolated instance, I felt that their choice was relatively appropriate. Again, I am saying ‘relatively’.

    I don’t condone normalizing the presence of police cars (or other cars or even peds for that matter) the bike lane either.

    I’m out there all year round, and I could write pages about the indignities I’ve experienced as a cyclist. Enough that put my life at risk to make me upset.

    But in light of all the hate that we have been experiencing, I’m trying to find the positive. It’s not perfect, but it’s a starting point for a rational discussion. Sometimes, I refrain from commenting because my emotions are too high and I don’t want to add fuel to any irrational (bike hate/anti- bike lane) debates. I care passionately about the expanding bike infrastructure and the rights of people on bikes. I also get upset when I see people on bikes breaking the rules in such a way that puts others in danger.

    For me, this relates to the issue of the CP crackdown and cyclists getting $270 tickets for running red lights when it’s the middle of one of the worst winters we’ve had in 10 years and the park is closed to traffic and pedestrian traffic is at a minimum. There are some racers that have too little regard for their environment and are a problem. But does that mean every cyclist trying to train in the park should stop for every red light, regardless of whether their is pedestrian traffic ( or even slower cyclists that are either commuting or out for a ‘not high speed’ ride) I don’t think so. Should this same cyclist exercise caution and be prepared to slow or stop at sections where there is heavier ped traffic? Yes.

    And before I get slammed, yes, jaywalking and ped disregard is a problem too.

    I also agree that the $270 fines are excessive. I haven’t had a chance to lookat the slate article but will read it tomorrow.

  • Jen

    Unbelievable that people on this board can’t agree that cops blocking a bike lane to eat breakfast in their car is a transgression worthy of criticism.

    No wonder we’re getting our asses kicked in the media.

  • I think everyone can agree that if the cops were responding to an emergency (lights on, cops outside the car doing something) that would have been ok. After all, in an emergency, cops shouldnt waste time finding parking somewhere.

    But this wasnt an emergency. It was convenience. It was “we’re hunry and our break is short”….except imagine if everyone in the city used that excuse?

    “Sorry I ran the red officer, I have a short break and dont have time for laws”

  • LazyReader

    Hey; What do you call someone who really loves bicycles?…..a Pedal-phile.

  • otisbirdsong

    FYI… twice in the last week, I’ve seen a bike sting on Plaza Street in Brooklyn, heading from Vanderbilt Ave…There’s been a cop stationed on Plaza Street (cop standing near Lincoln Place) looking for bikes that blow the Flatbush Avenue stop light.

    This is not really a light that I would ever blow considering that car are coming blind off of Grand Army Plaza going about 40 mph and are flying up Flatbush going 40 mph also…but I wanted to give everyone an FYI…

  • wagondriver42

    OMG….try going around them…LOOK at the pic, aint a single car next to the COP, you know the people protecting your whiny ass’s. GET OVER IT YOU WHINY FUCKS!

  • mikey420NY

    I could see them endangering lives if they were parked in a bike lane that’s Next To Traffic, and not in one of those blocked off faggot areas. Some idiot near Baruch wanted to start with me because he almost rode into my lift that was poking into the street and 6 feet up in the air. The whole street was halted so we could send the crane- loaded with 500+lbs of lights and electrical equipment – up in the air. He thought he was cute on his bike swerving around my crew telling him to stop and his lil helmet clipped the bottom of the lift. he didnt fall or get hurt. He was about to get hurt when he started on his bike lane rant, but He was enough of a jerk off for Everybody.

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