At P.S. 161 in Harlem the Sidewalk is the Parking Lot


Streetsblog reader Richard Conroy sends along these photos and writes:

Yesterday there was an article about Randi Weingarten saying teachers don’t abuse parking permits. I found that amusing since my daily commute takes me past P.S. 161 in Harlem where there are numerous vehicles parked on the sidewalk every school day. This school is on Convent Ave.


In her letter to the Mayor, United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten claimed that "teachers
are not abusers of parking permits, and to publicly suggest that they
are is deeply troubling." The letter was a response to the Mayor’s plan to reduce the number of city government parking permits and prevent unions from printing their own placards. 

At least they’re not parking on the playground, I suppose.

  • srock

    Biking on the sidewalk is a misdemeanor, and bikes get clipped regularly by the NYPD when they are parked on the sidewalk ( Yet apparently cars can drive AND park on the sidewalk with no repercussions. We live in a crazy world!

  • Thanks for sending these along Richard. I posted a few myself this morning, though they were curbside violations, not the more serious sidewalk parking you encountered:

    Weingarten doesn’t know what she is talking about.

  • JF

    Thanks, Rich! Here’s the Google Map of that area:,+New+York&fb=1&cid=40817587,-73953180,8533805993348470297&li=lmd&ll=40.818649,-73.95318&spn=0.007681,0.020084&z=16&om=1

    You can see that it’s a few blocks from the 125th and 137th Street stations on the #1 train and the 135th Street station on the B/C.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these teachers live a few blocks from other stops on these very train lines in Riverdale, Washington Heights or the Upper West Side.

  • mork

    Fine role models for our children.

    These teachers should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

  • mork

    Fine role models for our children.

  • rhubarbpie

    There is really no defending this. This school is within very easy walking distance of the 1, which has pretty frequent service, and the B & C, as JF noted. If the rules were enforced, I’m sure that many of the teachers and other employees who drive in would easily manage on mass transit.

    I’m wondering if any of the teachers who read this — assuming there are a few — have thoughts about how to constructively change the thinking at individual schools (rather than at the union, which will take a ton of work, though it’s important) so that principals and teachers are better citizens when it comes to this kind of illegal behavior.

  • bikecommuter

    Walk past any police precinct and see that it’s not just teachers–cops are all over the side walk as well. The teachers whose vehicles are in the pictures above appear to make some sort of effort to keep a large portion of the sidewalk clear. Around the police station at 182nd and Broadway, even sidewalk ramps are blocked by the police.

  • glennQ

    I agree; those cars should be ticketed and towed… My car would be if I decided to park on a sidewalk.
    Look at those cars though… With the exception of that M-B SUV, it is Hyundi, Kia… econo-box galore. Those teachers are not getting rich teaching kids in Harlem…

  • lee

    Most teachers don’t live in the city and are travelling from Jersey, Long Island, Bronxville etc!
    If cops and firemen have designated parking spots, why shouldn’t teachers!!
    You all don’t know what they go through!!
    They have to leave hours earlier just to find a street parking spot, and most times a spot that is on the RIGHT side of the street(alternate street parking)!!They are not permitted to just leave the building to move their cars!
    Therefore, I commend the school and police department for making things a little easier for those teachers that need a place to park their frigging cars!!

  • Lee, we DON’T think that cops and firemen should automatically have designated parking spots. And we don’t think that NYC teachers should be living in the suburbs when there are plenty of good places in the city to live.

  • “I commend the school and police department for making things a little easier for those teachers that need a place to park their frigging cars!!”

    I commend teachers and cops who live in the neighborhoods they serve and walk to work.

  • Teacher

    Where do you suggest they park then? Most arent paid enough to cover hourly/day charges at a parking lot and they dont have any regular parking in the area. Guess teachers should be expected to walk 30 min to work everyday as well as stay til 6 PM and still not get paid. You start ticketing teachers for coming to work to babysit your kids that you send to us with no manners or home training so you can go to work then you wont have anyone qualified to try to educate the children. I walk by an area where the Firemen park their cars on the sidewalk and block the whole sidewalk and even the handicap area on the curb. Let’s comment on that.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    I expect that teachers obey the law like everyone else and not park on sidewalks.

    I expect teachers to walk or bike to work or use mass transit like most other New Yorkers.

    If teachers must drive to get to their jobs I expect them to pay for or search for on-street parking like most other NYC drivers.

    If teachers are given special places to park their cars, I expect that the value of the parking be accounted for in their compensation packages.

    Likewise, if some teachers are choosing to forgo this parking, I expect that the city would pay them additional compensation, or cover their mass transit costs, equal to the value of the parking that car-commuting teachers receive for free.

    The massive sense of entitlement of municipal workers, when it comes to driving and parking, never ceases to amaze me.

  • You start ticketing teachers for coming to work to babysit your kids that you send to us with no manners or home training so you can go to work then you wont have anyone qualified to try to educate the children.

    Any teacher who thinks that about city kids is not qualified to educate any children.

  • Ian Turner

    Lee, Teacher: Perhaps these teachers should move someplace with better access to public transportation, so that they don’t have to waste so much time and gray hair on stressing about parking.

  • BicyclesOnly

    No doubt, there are New Yorkers with an inappropriate attitude of entitlement towards government services. These are the kind of people who litter, don’t put the necessary energy into raising their kids, park in bus stops, don’t recycle, etc., and expect government workers to deal with the messes they create. I condemn these behaviors and can appreciate how they must frustrate many dedicated government workers.

    But it only makes things worse when government workers conspire together to give each other “courtesy” in the form of abusive and illegal parking privileges that materially detract from the safety and convenience of the general public.

    For example, with the completion of the new bike path on Columbus Ave., my son and I have modified our route to school so that we travel west on 83rd Street from Columbus. That block has both a fire house and a post office. Every weekday morning, the roadway is narrowed to about ten feet because of all of the double parking by vehicles with bogus post office and firefighters union placards. There are always pedestrians walking in the street because the sidewalks are blocked by similarly-placarded vehicles. I’m just trying to get my son to school in a safe and healthy way and a major obstacle is the illegal parking by the post office and firehouse employers which has the tacit approval of NYPD. NYPD has basically given away the roadway which belongs to the public, for the private use of fellow gov’t employees. So its not too hard to see how this will lead some people to throw that piece of trash on the ground, rationalizing that public employees should work for what they get. It really is a vicious cycle.

    The other route we used to take west, West 77th St. has a similar problem caused by teachers. There are large portions of curbside space set aside for DoE placrad parking, and a small section right in front of P.S. 87 intended as a no parking-drop off zone for parents. But the teachers park in the drop-off zone, so the parents park and unload their kids in the bike lane, creating a hazard and a serious inconvenience for everyone else. I don’t accept that as a legitimate price for me and my son to pay in order to keep P.S. 87 running.


Weingarten: “Teachers Are Not Abusers of Parking Permits”

A car with a teacher’s permit on the dashboard is parked beneath a "No Parking Anytime" sign. The license plate number does not match the one printed on the permit. ( United Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten sent a letter to Mayor Bloomberg Friday expressing objections to his plan to reduce the number of […]

Randi Weingarten Still Doesn’t Get It

Back in January United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten protested Mayor Bloomberg’s mandate to reduce the number government parking placard handouts. In a letter to the mayor, Weingarten called the move "deeply troubling," and claimed that taking free parking away from teachers — who, unlike tens of thousands of other government employees, "are not […]

Weingarten Looks to Soothe Tension Over Placard Cuts

Today is the first workday of the new year for city public school teachers, some 52,000 of whom have a little over a month to prepare for a commute without free parking privileges. As reported earlier this week, the city and the United Federation of Teachers have reached an agreement that will rescind all but […]
Streets around NYC schools are about to get more chaotic.

Reversing Bloomberg Reforms, City Will Reissue Tens of Thousands of Teacher Parking Placards

Get ready for a lot more car traffic and illegal parking around New York City schools. The de Blasio administration is returning to a system that enables widespread abuse of parking privileges, with the Department of Education agreeing to hand out parking placards to any school employee who has a car and requests one, reversing reforms instituted during the Bloomberg administration.