Illegally-Parked and Abandoned Cars Plague Queensbridge Houses, Greenway

NYC Parks said it is aware that this segment of the Queensbridge Park Greenway has become a haven for illegal parking. Photo: David Meyer
The Parks Department knows the Queensbridge Park Greenway has become a haven for illegal parking, but drivers continue to park there. Photo: David Meyer

A bicycle and pedestrian greenway that connects protected bike paths on the waterfront to Queens Plaza and Queens Boulevard has become a parking lot, with private and government-placarded cars lining its southern curb for months.

The Parks Department knows about the vehicles parked in the path and “has been ticketing when they are observed,” according agency spokesperson Meghan Lalor. But that hasn’t deterred people from leaving their cars on the greenway.

The greenway, which is technically part of Queensbridge Park, runs for two blocks from Vernon Boulevard at the East River waterfront to 21st Street, between NYCHA’s Queensbridge Houses and the Queensboro Bridge.

On Vernon Boulevard, motorists continue to park illegally under the bridge, blocking pedestrian access to the sidewalk on the west side of the street. Streetsblog reported last October that Con Edison employees were parking their personal cars there while making repairs to the bridge.

I visited the location twice this week and found the greenway filled with parked cars. Some of them had Parks Department placards. In others, drivers displayed orange safety vests (at least one had the word “contractor” on it). Some of the cars had out of state plates.

“[It’s] a new phenomenon. Cars were not parking there until a few months ago,” said Ray Normandeau, a longtime Queensbridge resident. “We’ve seen people park a car, then walk to the subway.”

Around the corner, on Vernon Boulevard, illegally-parked cars continue to force pedestrians into oncoming traffic. Photo: Ray Normandeau
Cars on the sidewalk force people into traffic on Vernon Boulevard. Photo: Ray Normandeau

Before drivers started parking there, Normandeau said, there were concrete Jersey barriers along the south side of the greenway. “The cars are worse,” he said. “The Jersey barriers were a bit easier to walk around.”

While Normandeau does not own a car, he said his neighbors who have cars pay to park in NYCHA-owned lots adjacent to the path.

The Vernon Boulevard sidewalk is most often obstructed at night and on weekends, Normandeau said, which he attributes to people attending events at a nearby hotel.

I found eight cars taking up most of the Vernon Boulevard sidewalk on the north side of the Queensboro Bridge. Some were apparently dumped there — all but three had expired registrations. At least two of the vehicles with current registrations had some form of NYPD identification on display.

Vernon Boulevard, with Queensboro Bridge at right, is lined with illegally-parked cars, some of them apparently abandoned. Photo: David Meyer
Vernon Boulevard, with Queensboro Bridge at right, is lined with illegally-parked cars, some with expired regisrations. Abandoned vehicles are a problem in the area. Photo: David Meyer

Lalor said abandoned cars are an issue in the area, and Parks can’t keep up with removing the ones left in areas that are under the department’s jurisdiction. “They are very often replaced,” he said.

Normandeau has been trying to get illegally-parked cars ticketed for years, and keeps an online collection of photos dating from 2014. He said the 108th and 114th precincts, whose shared border runs along the bridge, refuse to take responsibility.

“I’ve given pictures to officers of the 108th,” he said. “For the 114th [I gave them to officers] higher up the chain. No one has come out and said ‘It’s our jurisdiction.’”

  • macartney

    Did you ask Jimmy Van Bramer for comment?

  • Yikes! That is worse than I have ever seen it.

  • Simon Phearson

    Drivers are a group of insufferably entitled brats, item # 12495

  • ad astra

    Poor design and lack of maintenance bear a large part of the blame IMO. That stretch is much too wide, badly rutted, lined with litter, and feels more like a driveway for cars than a shared-use path for bikes and peds. It feels like a place no one cares about, and drivers are taking advantage of this. It’s an insult to the residents of the Queensbridge Houses that the city hasn’t rehabilitated it and cleaned it up.

  • jeremy

    I pass here every day, it’s pretty bad.

    It’s really not really obvious that it’s a greenway. Why not put signs up and 2 big rocks preventing cars to drive into it?

  • jeremy

    I think it’s actually people from the Queensbridge Houses that are parking there

  • Vooch

    yes – a Perfect Situation for lavish use of bollards

  • The fact there is no striping or glyphs on the pavement, make it just feel like a roadway that we are biking on.

  • Kevin Love

    He is too busy fighting against affordable housing.

  • ad astra

    Even if that’s true, the few residents that have cars are making life worse for everybody who doesn’t.

  • ad astra

    That has always been my feeling. It’s been badly neglected as bike infrastructure has been built up on either end of it.

  • Bernard Finucane
  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Heh, ironically if you pan to the right in that link, there’s a car parked on the sidewalk (in a place with no bollards).

    What’s really amazing to the mind of an American is that this is an intersection of two streets that are one-way for cars and two-way for bikes. It’s gonna be decades before we see that here without a specific contraflow lane.

  • jeremy

    Yeah, actually i didn’t even know it was a Greenway, thought it was an abandonned alley at first. The idiots who park there must think the same

  • LimestoneKid

    Doesn’t surprise me. I’ve been unable to get the NYPD or the Department of Sanitation to tow away a vehicle under the BQE for months. They claim it’s not derelict. Two flat tires and smashed in windows and they still claim that it’s not derelict.

    https://twitter.com/RodentHour/status/766677521953873922

  • van_vlissingen

    I cycle through there all the time. I never realized it was a Greenway either. I just assumed it was some municipal parking lot you were allowed to ride through. this could easily be fixed with just a few bollards and signage.

  • neroden

    These need to be towed to a crusher’s yard, particularly the NYPD cars. I’d be in favor of vigilante towing at this point.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Con Ed Staff Caught Illegally Parking on Sidewalk By Queensboro Bridge

|
Cars belonging to Con Edison employees assigned to a project on the Queensboro Bridge are squeezing pedestrians into the roadbed as workers illegally park on the sidewalk. On both the east and west sides of Vernon Boulevard at Queens Plaza South, near Queensbridge Park and Queensbridge Houses, sidewalks are being used as private parking for bridge workers. When confronted, […]

Eyes on the Street: Vernon Boulevard Gets Bike Lane Barriers

|
Biking in western Queens is getting a welcome upgrade. The two-way bike lane on Vernon Boulevard has not had any type of protection from traffic since it was installed in 2013. The lane was frequently obstructed by drivers who used it as a parking spot. Now, DOT is installing barriers along the bikeway to keep cars out. The project received the most […]

Eyes on the Street: Vernon Boulevard Bikeway Upgrade

|
Buffered bike lanes on Vernon Boulevard in western Queens are getting upgraded to a buffered two-way bikeway. Gil Lopez was near Hallet’s Cove this morning when he snapped a photo of DOT crews installing the bike lane, which when complete will include flexible posts to keep out car traffic. The two-way lane will run from […]

CB2 Chairman Punts Queens Greenway Vote Over Loss of Parking

|
From Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Committee Chair Mike Heffron: At the Queens Community Board 2 general meeting on Thursday, May 1, with no vote by board members, Chair Joe Conley delayed the board’s input on the Department of Transportation’s planned pedestrian and cyclist improvements to Vernon Boulevard, an important link in the proposed Queens East River […]

New Bike Routes on Tap for Long Island City and Sunnyside

|
Western Queens is set to receive a slate of street safety and bicycle network improvements. The projects will add shared lane markings and bike lanes to neighborhood streets, improve connections to the Astoria waterfront and Greenpoint, and address pedestrian safety at the site of a fatal curb-jumping crash. The progress comes after more than a year of […]