Motorist With NYC Disability Placard Blocks Curb Ramp With Car — Legally

NYC drivers with disability permits can park just about anywhere, even in the way of others with disabilities. Photos: Brad Aaron
NYC drivers with disability permits can park just about anywhere, even if they create obstructions for others with disabilities. Photos: Brad Aaron

I’ve taken up the early morning walk habit, and my route takes me through the intersection of Seaman Avenue and W. 214th Street, in Inwood. It’s a T intersection with an unmarked crosswalk and curb cuts.

I wrote a few months back about how DOT basically did away with a lot of unmarked crosswalks by allowing motorists to park in them. This isn’t one of those. But despite clear signage prohibiting drivers from parking there, for the past three mornings the curb cut on the east side of Seaman has been partially or completely blocked by vehicles.

On Tuesday and Wednesday it was an Acura with a bogus-looking attempt at an NYPD placard and, for good measure, a reflective vest with “NYPD” printed on it, left on the dashboard.

Today it was a different car. Behind the windshield was a laminated card with the “NYC” logo and a wheelchair symbol — an apparently legitimate city parking permit for people with disabilities. Ironically, this driver had completely obstructed the sidewalk ramp, prohibiting anyone using a wheelchair, stroller, or grocery cart from crossing or accessing the sidewalk from the street, and impeding visibility for all pedestrians and motorists.

The thing is, assuming the permit is legit, this is legal. From the DOT web site:

The City permit allows the driver to park at most curbsides on city streets including in all “No Parking” zones (except those marked as taxi stands); in “No Parking”, “No Standing” or “Authorized Vehicles Only” spaces authorized for doctors, press, diplomats and government agencies; at metered parking without paying; in “No Standing, Trucks Loading and Unloading” or “Truck Loading Only” zones except for specified restricted hours.

If you’re a New York City motorist and can prove you have a disability, it seems you can by law park in such a way that make streets less accessible for people with disabilities who don’t drive.

That each of these cars was parked on a residential street at a little after 6:00 a.m. suggests they were left there overnight, and it’s possible the Acura was there for two days. I’ve seen other cars parked illegally in the early morning as well — an SUV with a State Senate license plate is a regular offender — so it’s not as if these drivers have anything to fear, regardless of where they stow their cars or what they leave on the dashboard.

Whatever works.
Whatever works.
  • SheRidesABike

    An SUV with a state senate license in that area likely belongs to Espaillat, who lives in that part of Inwood, I believe. Argh.

    Lots of vehicles have been parked in the cul-de-sac on Park Terrace East at Isham Park lately, weekends, and they don’t even both trying to show fake (or other) placards.

  • Brad Aaron
  • Hilda

    NYC should do an audit on disabled placards, and perhaps there should be a separate placard for wheelchair users. Portland recently did this with measured success: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/507991

    That said I wish there was some kind of disabled placard that people could use (without vehicles) for getting a seat on the subway or bus, or that would allow for crossing streets even when time has run out. If disabled can park just about anywhere, they should be able to travel just about anywhere.

    And #bikenyc, be patient and tolerant of wheelchairs or assisted devices in bike lanes; most of the time it is impossible to get up on the curb after crossing the street, and the bike lane is an easier and safer place than the street. Sometimes that is because a vehicle is blocking the curbcut…

  • LM

    Obstructing the pedestrian walkways of the long street part of an unmarked T-intersection is legal, irrelevant of tags/placard/permit.

    The New York City Traffic rules allow parking at some “T”
    intersections—those without traffic signals, all-way stop signs or
    crosswalk markings—even if there is a curb cut at that location.


    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/parking-regulations.shtml

  • Brad Aaron

    As it says in the post, this particular crosswalk is a marked no parking zone.

  • Mary o’brien

    I find it inconceivable that motorists with handicap stickers are permitted to park in regular spaces in parking lots, often taking up the last space in a crowded lot, and leaving 8-10 empty handicap spaces. They should be ticketed.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

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Eyes on the Street: Tactical Urbanism Reclaims Upper Manhattan Curb Ramp

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About a year ago, someone painted a yellow line on this curb ramp, on a mostly residential street that abuts a park. “It’s the only sidewalk ramp on that side of the street for a block in either direction,” says our reader, “so when someone blocks it, if you need a ramp to access the sidewalk (or the park), you have to go a block out of the way.” According to our tipster, who walks by the ramp twice a day on weekdays, drivers are now much less likely to block it.