Eyes on the Street: Tweet Us Your Pics of Sidewalk-Hogging Businesses

Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Clarence shot the above photo of a common sight in NYC: car-oriented businesses that illegally commandeer sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk around parked cars or pushing people into the street. He writes:

I just snapped these photos of a brand new curb extension in Sunnyside, on 37th Street and Queens Boulevard, and a car dealership is already using it for car storage, blocking the sidewalk and ramp for disabled access. In Sunnyside DOT has been doing quite a few curb extensions to make a better pedestrian environment, so it’s really appalling that car dealership is using this.

The business in this case is LT Motors, which loves the new sidewalk space so much the dealership is advertising it.

Is this Chevy Suburban priced to move off the sidewalk?
Is this Chevy Suburban priced to move off the sidewalk?

This is a pervasive problem, and one the city should address.

Earlier this week Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke called for tweets of sidewalk parking photos, and we’re going to piggyback on that meme. Post your pics of sidewalk-hogging businesses on Twitter with the hashtag #sidewalkhogs, and we’ll highlight the most egregious examples next week. Winners will receive a Streetfilms DVD. Be sure to include as much location info as possible in your tweets.

As for LT Motors, a spokesperson for local City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer writes: “We have reached out to the NYPD on this. They will be stepping up enforcement to address the pedestrian safety hazards.”

  • BBnet3000

    Wow, thanks to Jimmy Van Bramer. God knows the rest of us cant get anything done on sidewalk parking through 311.

  • Peñalosa-ite

    Counter-protest idea: open up an unlicensed sidewalk cafe and set up tables and chairs. Maybe a grill or a small refrigerator. Something that really blocks pedestrian access. Start serving food. Maybe some beer or wine. See how quickly you’re shut down by the NYPD, local community board, and Department of Health. A great way to show which kind of lawbreaking the city tolerates and which is totally okay!

  • qrt145

    Of course, the NYPD is the number-one offender when it comes to parking on the sidewalk… who’s going to enforce that?

  • Very simple question: why hasn’t every one of those vehicles been towed?

  • Ari_FS

    If pedestrians accidentally scraped their keys against these cars when they walk by, LT Motors would quickly reconsider their approach.

    *This post does not encourage nor condone vandalism*

  • Charles

    Know what’s even crazier about this? There is an empty, chained off parking lot *for lease* right next to where these cars are parked. In fact, I think the dealer used to park the cars in that lot.

    Hey, if the laws aren’t enforced, why not commandeer public property for your outdoor auto showroom? You’d be a sucker to pay rent.

  • Thats a nice car display you have there. Shame if anything were to happen to them.

  • MattyCiii
  • KillMoto

    As far as I can tell, there’s no penalty in NYC for parking your car on someone’s body on the sidewalk in NYC:
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2014/07/03/eyes-on-the-street-tweet-us-your-pics-of-sidewalk-hogging-businesses/#disqus_thread

    The cars in the pictures simply leave out the middle-man

  • Flakker

    I will. Throw a brick through one every night until they get the message. Show them how quick the 80s can come back.

  • This is precisely what’s invidious about the failure to enforce so many New York traffic laws. It makes mugs of the poor suckers that take the trouble to obey them.

  • mo-flatbush

    As qrt145 mentioned below, the NYPD is a serious offender! At least the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn is… Here is a link to Google street view for 154 Lawrence Avenue, the precinct’s address, which shows cars parked on the sidewalk. Just rotate the view or “google stroll” down the street in either direction, toward Ocean Parkway or Seton Place. You will see cars parked on the sidewalk on both sides of the street nearly the whole length of the block! Every. Day.
    https://www.google.com/maps/place/154+Lawrence+Ave/@40.630503,-73.973909,3a,90y,137h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s-DQO6QB38DEEmptVdwyIsA!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c244d2290ef0b9:0x160ddb9d305192c6!6m1!1e1

  • Andres Dee

    “MInd your own business, Clarence. No one walks here anyway.” (/sarcasm)

  • Andres Dee

    Better yet, propose a Citibike station. We’ll hear cries about incompatibility with the the historic character of the neighborhood.

  • urbanresidue

    Make sure to flood 311 with the complaints, too. The cell phone app is quick and easy to use.

    They can only dodge the stats for so long. Perhaps naively, I hope the new NYPD Inspector General will do something to ensure a basic level of accountability, if he ever shows up for the job. A documented pattern would it possible to audit.

  • MattyCiii

    Four of these and a couple good strong friends == justice

    http://www.harborfreight.com/1250-lb-capacity-mechanical-wheel-dolly-67287.html

  • vnm

    Do they really park the cars on the sidewalk overnight? I would think they’d put them out there by day “for display purposes,” then bring ’em back in at night.

  • Rabi

    It’s exactly what Andres Dee commented – the NYPD writes certain areas off as being low traffic and then doesn’t enforce sidewalk parking there. “No one walks here anyways, so what’s the harm?”

  • Guest

    Sad to say, that’s modest for the NYPD.

    Compare to the 13th Precinct: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=West+Village&ll=40.736517,-73.981672&spn=0.00038,0.000576&cbll=40.736517,-73.981672&layer=c&panoid=K8Aeav3wxK_glQZ_d_YgKA&cbp=12,291.04,,2,2.36&hnear=West+Village,+Manhattan,+New+York,+New+York+County,+New+York&t=h&z=21

  • BBnet3000

    Another thing you see quite a bit is where people park within their own property but drive over the sidewalk (without a driveway or legitimate access) to get there.

  • Michael Klatsky

    With limited resources, how would you feel if instead of keeping sidewalks with people clear, the police was out harassing people on some block nobody walk on anyway?

    In the real world police aren’t going to pro actively enforce this, people could report this activity and it will be.

  • qrt145

    They seem to have plenty of resources available for harassing people who are not breaking any laws, so I’m sure they could reallocate some to enforce actual laws if they wanted to.

  • Daniel

    Of the last 30 or so sidewalk parking complaints I’ve filed exactly one resulted in a summons. What we really need is citizen ticketing. Allow ordinary citizens to ticket for all parking and moving violations using the 311 app.

  • Riddley_Walker

    Or accidentally happen to drop eggs on the cas whilst riding past – it can happen you know. Eggs and duco you end up with this pretty little crazed pattern if it is a hot day.

  • Nathanael

    Clearly you need to start a police department in New York City, since you appear to be missing one, and the misleadingly named “NYPD” appears to simply be a crime gang.

  • CheshireKitty

    Alot of Western Queens isn’t yuppified yet – there are still plenty of small businesses that spill out onto the street and of course sidewalks with their daily operations (laundries, distributors, body shops, car wash, other car-related businesses).

    Alot of these hogged streets/sidewalks are low-traffic, but Queens Blvd (or Northern Blvd for that matter) never is. The deal is, people: You rarely see pedestrians walking along the side-walks cause everyone is driving. And if you see anyone cycling, it’s usually delivery guys.

    The other day I saw 2 fattish bicycling clearly yuppie females, complete with dorky-looking helmets, riding two abreast hogging the car lane, tooling through the projects in W. Queens probably en route to Socrates Sculpture Park – blowing through red lights en route to scenic Vernon Blvd.

    Folks like that – laughing in a superior fashion as they rode through the acres of poverty housing: Do we need their insensitivity, rubbing their yuppie-affluence into the faces of the poor?

    I hope the projects in W. Queens act as a permanent bulwark against the yuppies spreading north from W-burg, Greenpoint, & LIC. NW Queens neighborhoods don’t need the high rents they bring. Yuppies = displacement of the poor, because everyone knows yuppies require the only best accommodations, twee eateries and so forth..

    The sort of people who own, run, or work at the side-walk hogging businesses are the sort who prioritize making a living over “yuppification” of communities. Some people have to work to make a living.. Just one of these “low-income” workers, whom the yuppies consider “low-brow” who usually are busting their buns at some menial job(s), may be supporting, with their remittances home, a family or even a village in Mexico, Central America, S. Asia, or Africa. They aren’t yuppie rentiers/trustafarians – scions of the 1%.

    I think the police department respects that the ordinary people who own or work at these small businesses are the “salt of the earth” that keep NYC going, and accordingly lets them “hog the sidewalk” if their businesses require the space. The same holds true for the cops who need to occasionally park on the side-walk of their precincts – which I’ve seen many times outside of police precincts in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Since street parking is scarce, what do we expect the police to do? Somehow fold up their vehicles and store them in a locker when not in use?

  • Joe R.

    Totally agree about keeping “yuppiefication” from spreading further out into Queens. As far as I’m concerned, nothing good ever comes out of it. The working poor are the backbone of the city, and they need to have places to live. As for the businesses using sidewalks, I personally don’t have a problem with it so long as it’s on quiet streets where pedestrians aren’t forced to walk out into streets with aggressive motor traffic. I think livable streets advocates need to prioritize things, and focus on those violations which actually put people in danger.

    I do however have a problem with police parking on sidewalks if they have other parking options available, as is the case with the local 107th precinct. They have a huge, very nice parking lot which I’ve seen half full at the same time there are police cars backed over the sidewalk.

  • CheshireKitty

    There’s the convenience factor – or the need to have vehicles parked nearby at the ready, rather than “buried” in a parking lot. Although I’m not familiar with the exact conditions or location of the lot you’re referring to in relation to the precinct house, the situation is analogous to having a firetruck parked at the ready just within the entrance of a fire-house rather than in a parking lot. Firemen can literally jump into their vehicles and rush to a fire, rather than walk to a parking lot. Needless to say, loss of time may mean the loss of life in a fire, and so vehicles are parked as near by the personnel as possible.

  • Joe R.

    I thought of that, but then I figured at any given time there are a number of patrol cars out on the streets, and probably closer to an emergency. I can understand a few cars being at the ready curbside, although if there were only that many they could just park normally. In fact, I’m fine with the police using all the curbside space adjacent to a precinct for police parking, just not with them blocking the sidewalk.

  • Michael Klatsky

    He is referring to personal vehicles not work vehicles…

  • Joe R.

    Yes, exactly.

  • CheshireKitty

    Roger, Joe & Michael: If it’s personal vehicles, then there’s no “excuse” – although if there is really no parking to be found in the area, then there’s an overall problem with infrastructure (i.e. no parking structures).

  • CheshireKitty

    They won’t ticket themselves for doing it – we know that. Probably the tipping point is, how busy the sidewalk is, how busy the street is. If a lot of pedestrians are being forced to walk on a busy thoroughfare because of cop cars parked on an ongoing basis on a side walk, then I would say there is a safety problem with that. If it’s a relatively quiet side-street with not much pedestrian or car traffic, then it doesn’t pose as much of a safety problem.

  • Guest

    Here’s a timely cartoon on parking..

  • running_bond

    La Marina for the win:

    – parking on city sidewalks

    – parking on state land (under the highway)

    – conversion of city street into valet parking lot

    – VIP parking on city parkland

    All of the above without any legal approvals whatsoever. And it happens every Saturday and Sunday from May to September, for three years now.

    https://app.box.com/s/29refqsuobrs1ji9hr41

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