Car Dealers Are Ruining the Queens Boulevard Bike Lane in Elmhurst

After a 311 complaint about car dealers using the bike lane as an extension of their lots, NYPD officers reported "no evidence" of bike lane obstruction.

Car dealers aren't letting one of the city's flagship bike improvements get in the way of storing their inventory on public streets. Photo: Jessame Hannus
Car dealers aren't letting one of the city's flagship bike improvements get in the way of storing their inventory on public streets. Photo: Jessame Hannus

DOT redesigned 1.2 miles Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst last summer with bike lanes running along the service road medians. As the city extends this redesign along one of the only continuous east-west routes in Queens, the Queens Boulevard bike lane promises to make biking a more viable travel option for hundreds of thousands of people.

But not if car dealers use it as a showroom.

In this video from Jessame Hannus, you can see the cars that auto dealerships have left clogging the Queens Boulevard bike lane.

Appropriating public streets and sidewalks is a longstanding practice along major streets like Queens Boulevard and Northern Boulevard, and Hannus tweeted this morning that a dealership “has always used that space as extension of their lot.”

With six dealerships in the immediate vicinity, however, the exact culprit is not clear.

NYPD hasn’t sent a strong signal that this illegal use of the bike lane should stop. The online ticket for Hannus’s 311 complaint yesterday afternoon said officers arrived at the location within a half-hour and “observed no evidence of the violation.”

Initial data show that the redesign of Queens Boulevard has made the street safer, but if car dealers are allowed to store their inventory on it, Queens residents won’t get the safe, continuous bikeway they deserve.

  • kevin

    I guess the solution should be to key the cars.

  • AnoNYC

    No consideration for anyone else but their own profit.

  • AnoNYC

    When the NYPD responded to the complaint; were the vehicles already moved, moved when the police responded, or not moved at all?

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    And this dealership sucks anyways. Would you buy a car from a place called Buy Cars, Inc? Come on!

  • These cars should be towed. That would get the dealers’ attention.

  • AnoNYC

    Dot 3 brake fluid accidentally spilled all over the paint.

  • sbauman

    The most likely reason why the dealer parks the cars in the bike lane is that he has paid off the local precinct to look the other way. The question is whether of not the police brass wants to eliminate such corruption. If they do, there are several stings that could put the dealer out of business.

  • BubbaJoe123

    NYC really needs private towing on public streets. Private towing company gets appropriate insurance, pays a registration fee to the city, and is provided a city-issued smartphone. They find an illegally parked vehicle, turn on the NYC Parking Enforcer app, and video it. Person in a city call center views the video, confirms that the vehicle is illegally parked, and approves the tow. Car gets towed. Private company and city share the towing fees. Would either dramatically improve safety and traffic flow, or generate a boatload of income for the city. Or some of both.

    There’s no way those guys would be parking vehicles in the bike lane like that if they were facing $300 in fines and having to go get the car from an impound lot.

  • kevd

    Don’t any cyclists on Queens Blvd have ULocks?
    Windows break very easily.

    Shockingly easily.

  • EcoAdvocate

    Frequent calls to the car dealership and police precinct, mayor’s office, commissioner’s office would help to kill this illegal use.
    People use a public space for free and become accustomed to it being free and available to them.

  • EcoAdvocate

    unclear from the article. it would be interesting to know how long it took, and whether the responding officer was told to call the dealership first to tell them they were coming.
    More pictures, more frequent complaints, even daily or several times a day, as often as this occurs. If people got on this the responding officers would get tired of the game.

  • EcoAdvocate

    A less costly thing some people have been doing for cars parked in bike lanes is bringing a can of spray whipped cream. It’s messy enough as is, and the longer the cars are left in the bike lane, the more baked on it becomes.
    or get a roll of these “I parked in a bike lane” stickers: they come off glass pretty easily, but paint…not as much. They KNOW they’re doing it blocking the bike lane. They don’t care.
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-K1hMXE7qbEU/VNunNK2C67I/AAAAAAAA9lM/8HiRoeuNjj8/s1600/iparkedinabikelanesticker.JPG

  • MattyCiii

    I’d love to have the resources (time, proximity) to do this: arrive there with folding chair and smart phone. Submit 311 complaint. Watch and wait.

    When 311 ticket is closed, I’d know whether cops bothered to visit the site and whether any cars moved…

  • MattyCiii

    Spread bird seed on the car roofs. Birds poop while they eat…

  • JudenChino

    As tempting and cathartic perhaps it’d be to vandalize (deserving) automobiles that are flagrantly parked in the bike lane; please don’t. If you get caught ,the NYPD will have no problem making life very difficult for you. It’s just not worth it. And trust me, I’ve been tempted to throw my lock through a window, key doors, slash tires etc . . . . The NYPD won’t give a shit how justified it is. They won’t feel shame that their lack of enforcement in part caused it. They will fuck up your record and your wallet. And trust me, I’ve felt the urge on my occasions. I had a buddy who punched a car that failed to give way in the cross walk– they charged him with battery (this was in DC; in NYPD it’d be assault). We don’t live in a jurisdiction that takes vehicle on people violence seriously. So the best we can do is publicize and shame (like this article does).

    But yeah, I’ve totally felt the urge and thought up strategies to pull something like that off. . . but, I’m not going to, because it’d be counterproductive to the ultimate goal of safer streets for all.

  • Vooch

    disagree

    a subtle key’g works wonders to communicate

    key word subtle

  • Vooch

    it’s come to that point

  • c2check

    How absurd that people can, most often without consequence, park in bike lanes, on sidewalks, etc, make getting around actually dangerous for people
    while inflicting minor cosmetic damage to an inanimate object would be a surefire way to actually get in trouble with the cops

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Capital project coming in a few years, design probably starting soon? This needs bollards or similar hard protection against this kind of behavior. Even if advocates get the NYPD to care, there’s no guarantee that will hold up long term.

  • com63

    I wonder if you could do this and then file CCRB complaints about the officers who lied. I’m pretty sure they just close the complaints from the precinct without even visiting the site. I’ve complained about parking on sidewalks and the complaint is closed suspiciously fast. You could sit there and videotape the call, the scene and then the complaint being closed without an officer arriving.

  • Brian Howald

    Damaging property is a misdemeanor. Threatening vulnerable road users is apparently a mitzvah.

  • Brian Howald

    What makes you think this is bribery as opposed to the typical indifference of the NYPD towards blocking pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure?

  • Ira Rutman

    This is an ongoing problem with this dealership, On Yelp there are reviews regarding the safety hazards.

    https://www.yelp.com/biz/caribbean-auto-sales-elmhurst

  • Vulcan Logic

    I’d check out the film, theatre, and service industries. All have oddball hours and availability and I bet you’d be able to get a team together to do just that (speaking as a long time film and service industry employee)

  • djx

    THIS.

    At best, most don’t care. At worst, a fair number slightly like the idea of fucking with cyclists. I was “friends” with an NYPD officer, who tried to explain to me an anti-cyclist crackdown by saying it was in response to Transalt highlighting placard abuse. He was telling me this as it that behavior – using their position to retaliate against a part of the public – was entirely legitimate. He was like “Here’s the background on the crackdown. See, it’s totally understandable. You’d do the same, right?”

  • I would imagine we could crowd-fund this pretty easily. How much would it cost to get someone to do this via TaskRabbit? $200, if that?

  • AMH

    So true–drivers can assault you all they want, but the moment you stand up for yourself you’re the criminal. FUBB!

  • Creem82

    Let’s just get 100 or so of these stickers and COVER the paint jobs of these cars. Eventually, the time and work it takes to clean them will outweigh the convenience of using the lane. Where do we get these stickers?

  • AMH

    Is this what other cities do? Sounds like a good idea. Smartphones have the ability to vastly improve enforcement, we just need political will to follow up.

  • AlexWithAK

    Yeah, this is probably accurate. Which is actually worse. Taking money is at least practical. This is just because they’re assholes.

  • Ira Rutman

    Perhaps getting a protest together with transportation organizations or talking to the Mayor’s Office would have an effect. In general 311 is a waste of time. This place looks to have an unsavory belligerent reputation, Going by there business reviews.

  • c2check

    Bicyclist gets hit: well what were they doing to deserve it?
    Illegally parked car/aggressive driver gets keyed: how dare someone do such a thing!

  • Alan
  • AnoNYC

    It’s important that we document these problems and raise hell with the city.

    I mean, drivers even drive into parking protected bike lanes here from the intersections. We need physical barriers.

  • thomas040
  • A symptom of an out-of-control police force that operates without any oversight from the civilian government. The police actually believe that they are in charge; and our politicians do nothing to disabuse them of this notion.

  • Ken Dodd

    The NYPD brazenly lies about the outcome of 311 reports. On multiple occasions I have made noise complaints against the drunks who hang out under the scaffold across the street and play loud music at 3am. I have filed 311 noise complaints online, and listened as the music continued unabated until 6am. Then I see that I got an email at 4:30am telling me that the police arrived at the scene and found no evidence of noise taking place, and that no action was taken. LIARS!

  • Ken Dodd

    I recently had a bat swung at me out of the window of a car as I cycled past, and when I swatted it away with my arm, it broke the guy’s side mirror. He subsequently lost it and chased me at high speed the wrong way up a one way street and deliberately smashed into the back of me at high speed, leaving me with substantial injuries. When the cops arrived at the scene, they came into the ambulance where I was being treated and announced that they were arresting me for criminal damage. I have to go to court in June. It’s freaking unbelievable.

  • Ken Dodd

    Leaving one star Yelp reviews is a sure fire way of putting public pressure on scumbag businesses like this. The owner will get an email notification every time someone posts one.

  • Ken Dodd

    They frequently don’t bother to show up to 311 complaints and then mark them as completed. I have multiple first hand experience of this.

  • Ken Dodd
  • localmile

    “Hey Vinnie, this is Gil over at the precinct. Got a complaint about you parking cars in the bike lane. I’m going to have someone drive by there between 4:00 and 4:05 today if that’s OK. Let me know if he needs to wait a bit longer.”

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