Fidler on the Sidewalk

Streetsblog commenter and Brooklyn Councilmember Lew Fidler adds a tenth plank to his 9 CARAT STONE transportation plan: Sidewalk parking! In today’s Daily News:

Brooklyn Diary

Where in the world can an elected official park these days without earning the wrath of his fellow Brooklynites?

A silver Infiniti belonging to Councilman Lew Fidler — a vocal congestion pricing critic — was spotted last Thursday parked
on a pedestrian plaza near Borough Hall that has become something of a
go-to spot for law-bending city employees.

But it wasn’t the only time last week the unlucky Canarsie
politician stumbled into a parking problem. Just a day earlier, Fidler
was slipped an angry note on his windshield after parking directly
above a nearby subway grate.

"I did it," said a flustered Fidler after our spies caught the pol.
"I’m not going to apologize for it. I thought it would be better than
parking on the subway grate."

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Bless you Aaron. I knew this was coming. However, I park when doing govt business in an area permitted by the BP and where he is permitted to have parking. The prior park someone objected to the fact that it was on the subway grating. Thinking they might have a point—a mistake I admit—I parked five feet to the left for a few hours.
    Mea culpa.
    and I knew some of you would delight in this!

  • Pat

    correction: Marty is not permitted to park there. he is just as wrong as you are, Lew.

  • ddartley

    Hi there, Council Member.

    Like most, I’m glad you’re “here.”

    But a fine point about that BP parking thing you bring up: an agreement between the Parks Department and the BP doesn’t really carry any water legally.

    But such fine points don’t apply to everyone.

  • Some people get angry notes, some people get parking tickets, and most people are underneath that subway grating being endangered by their politicians’ parked vehicles and pro-vehicle policies. What would delight us, Lew, is if you could see far enough beyond the hood of your Infiniti to leave it at home.

  • Jason A

    Councilman, I don’t mean to pour it on, but no number of hydrogen cars will ever solve that parking problem.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Why would we be delighted? We oppose these activities for a reason. Now if you had gotten your car towed, like Senator Dilan, I might have had a moment of schadenfreude. But mostly, I just expected better of you.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Here is the reality Mr. Fidler. There is just a limit to the extent to which one can squeeze multiple or even one private automobile per family into a pre-automobile city.

    If Los Angeles cannot accomodate its traffic, Brooklyn certainly can’t, let alone Manhattan.

    We stretch as best we can. We tolerate double parking for deliveries and street sweeping. We allow illegal parking for those with plackards. We squeeze pedestrians into small spaces. We’ve chased children off the streets where they once played.

    There still isn’t enough room. And a payroll tax hike will not create enough room.

    So we are left with how to allocate what room there is. The current policy is to restrict off street parking in Manhattan to raise its price, but hand out 140,000 plackards so some people can park for free on the street, legally or illegally. It doesn’t seem to have solved the problem.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    First, i want to say that I appreciate the tenor of most of these remarks. It reminds me of a Star Trek episode when Kirk destroys the Romulans…and the Romulan Commander suggests that had they met in a different way, he might be able to call him “friend”.
    In some bizarre way, though i have only really met Aaron, and briefly at tht, I feel that I know some of you and that we really could be friends…or at least make common cause on many things.

    The area in question—where the subway grating is—is not sidewlak. And there are significant issues, legally, as to the permissible parking in that area in general. For another day.

    and larry, as I ahve said to Angus and others, no single mode of transportation could possibly sustain without the others in this City at this time. If we lost any one of them: caars, buses, subways—the City would strangle in its inability to handle the flow.

    you may drive you may not, it may be a choice for you. Last I recalled, Larry, you supported choice. But coercing everyone into one system would only overburden that system.

    BUILD IT and they will come.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (BUILD IT and they will come.)

    As my Room 8 posts on the MTA budget make clear, all we will be building starting six or eight years from now is nursing homes and related senior facilities.

    We’ll be lucky to keep the infrastructure we have. There are too many other needs related to an aging, non-working population.

    If it isn’t done by 2016, forget it.

    And the proposals now underway aren’t to accomodate growth, they are to ensure the quality of life of those already here. If we get the major improvements now under construction, I will be very happy. But I do not expect this.

  • Ace

    Council Member Fidler:

    I beg to differ. We would survive quite nicely without private automobiles. I have always found it difficult to understand how someone purporting to represent a group can do so without sharing some of their very basic commonalities.

  • Timz

    Council Member Fidler:

    How is asking you to park with the limits of the law “coercing everyone into one system…” Unless of course that system is the legal system.

  • Dave

    The problem with our current politicians is that they feel they are above the law. Lew knows he is breaking the law parking where he does but it is OK because the BP does it as well. Doesn’t hold water in a court of law but how do you get him there?

    The problem with these placards is the feeling it gives to their users to park wherever whenever with impunity (BTW let’s follow Lew and see if he uses the placard when is he is not on official business).

    By allowing 142,000 people to knowingly break the law adds to a sense of disorder and a feeling that laws are meant to be broken by all of us. Spitzer seems to have been caught up in it.

    I can only hope public outrage over placard and parking abuse gets things changed; especially if CP doesn’t pass. We know the politicians will never knowingly give up a parking perk, illegal or no.

  • Resom

    C’mon Lew, apply some Vulcan logic!

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    There goes that warm and fuzzy feeling.

    Some of these posts confuse commetns I made on substantive issues of transit with the parking issue.

    Again, even if YOU can survive without cars, the transit system would be crushed. Just as cars could not survive as a viable trasnportation mode if buses or trains were eleiminated. you may differ. I still believ that as do most people in the transportation field.

    As to parking placards, there are legitmate uses and purposes to them—well, some of them.I parked legally except for that one day when I chose to move over as opposed to park on the subway grating. A mistake. I have confessed. Won’t do that again. but the fact that you don’t LIKE parking placards doesn’t make their legitimate use illegal.

  • Dave

    What percentage of the use of placards do you think is legitimate? I would put it at well below 50%; like the doctor I saw on Sunday parking across from the Met displaying a “Doctor on Emergency Call” placard; like almost every single placard on the weekends in Soho and the Village.
    Anything that is so liable to misuse needs to be reformed; yet those who would reform it…the politicians and police..benefit from the placards so have little interest to rein in their use.
    No I don’t like placards for many reasons…you say and I agree their legitimate use is legal…so how do you suggest we make their illegitimate use illegal?

  • Ian Turner

    The “let everyone choose their own mode of transportation line” sounds great, when you first hear it. But the problem is that all forms of transporatation (even walking) require infrastructure, and that infrastructure cannot be built nor maintained for free. Which puts us back in the position of needing to make transportation choices a matter of public policy.

    Individual choices are affected by the government attitude, in everything from furniture manufacturing to agriculture, and certainly including transportation. The trick, therefore, is to set public policy in a way that yields the kind of cities — the kind of choices — that we want to see.

  • Eric

    Council Member Fidler,

    While admittedly, your district is not as well served by public transportation as some others, you could hop on the B41 bus from your district office to Brooklyn College, and get a free transfer there to the #2 or #5 subway, which would whisk you to Borough Hall without any worry about where to park. And from there, you’re only a brief subway trip (or better yet, a pleasant stroll, or ride on your convenient folding bicycle, across the Brooklyn Bridge) away from the Council chambers.

    Very environmentally friendly, probably as fast or faster than going by car, and a great way to lead by example.

  • ddartley

    Council Member, I believe this “subway grate” is something of a red herring. If it’s where I think it is (in the pedestrian plaza), then you’re not supposed to park there either!

    So you really shouldn’t have been there OR on the adjacent spot to which you “moved over,” I believe. (And of course that’s placard or no placard, but again, that goes to matters of enforcement and privilege)

    Also, I’m not saying you’re doing it, but please be sure not to brush off the placard part of the discussion because of the lack of warm/fuzzy feelings. Some of the people who comment here may sound witty or angry or both, but I’d say the feelings of all of them on the subject are quite valid, because things like this–parking on public, pedestrian space–is a real issue with genuine consequences for real people. Maybe not the specific time and place you did it in question, but overall, if all your colleagues, and all their staffs, and so on and so on, keep doing it and setting an example to each other, it really does, demonstrably start to negatively impact people’s lives around town, and they’re entitled to get angry about it.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    The grating is at the end of the permitted line of cars adjacent to the building. No red herring.

    And I do not brush off any issues of abuse.

    As to the pleasant stroll, in fairness, I have had leg and foot and knee problems for the past number of years, resulting in tw ohospital stays this past year. That also affects my ability to stand on a jerking subway car. I don’t expect any sympathy…just to point out that driving is sometimes the only viable choice for some people.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    The grating is at the end of the permitted line of cars adjacent to the building.

    Those cars are there illegally. Markowitz is not the law, and he can’t singlehandedly appropriate a pedestrian walkway for the use of his staff and guests. Just because he told you to park there doesn’t mean you should. If he told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge … ?

    And I do not brush off any issues of abuse.

    I don’t know what kind of abuse you’re referring to with that comment, but there was one post that was nasty and offensive, and you were completely right to feel insulted by it. I’m glad Aaron removed it.

    As to the pleasant stroll, in fairness, I have had leg and foot and knee problems for the past number of years, resulting in tw ohospital stays this past year. That also affects my ability to stand on a jerking subway car. I don’t expect any sympathy…just to point out that driving is sometimes the only viable choice for some people.

    Well, sympathy is all I can offer in this case. There are people with the same foot and knee problems who are blind, right? Does that mean they have no viable choices?

    Please, Lew. Cars can be useful for all kinds of things, but they’re not glorified wheelchairs. There are plenty of disabled people who take subways and buses every day. There are plenty of ways you could get to Borough Hall and back without having to stand on a jerking subway train, or park on a subway grate. This is a false dichotomy.

  • Ace

    The answer to leg and foot and knee problems is better community services and better public transportation (both convenience and accessibility).

    NYC residents should be proud of the services we already provide (scheduled door to door transportation to treatment facilities and educational opportunities)but, we could do a better job at both the government (the previously cited improved public transportation) and individual (would you like to sit down?) levels.

  • NYC residents should be proud of the services we already provide (scheduled door to door transportation to treatment facilities and educational opportunities)

    I agree. My friend who was unable to walk for six months after being hit with a motorcycle a block and a half from my apartment told me he was very satisfied with Access-A-Ride. No disagreement on the need for improvement, though.

  • Eric


    I should have thought about your leg issues, since now that you mention it, I recall having seen you limping. So, apologies.

    However, I would gladly give up my seat on the subway for you, and I hope you wouldn’t even need to ask (though I’m not always fully paying attention). And cycling may even be good rehab, though you may have given that a try already.


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