Do Unto Others? Church Parking Placards Put Cyclists in Harm’s Way

We posted the link in today’s headlines, but you really need the visuals that go with this story of bike-lane blocking, curb-mounting Sunday motorists, and the police who sanction them. Via Gothamist, the video comes courtesy of Ink Lake blogger Peter Kaufman, a Brooklyn Heights resident who noticed that all the cars illegally parked on Henry Street during Sunday services at First Presbyterian sport postcards on the dash. They say "Church Business," and the 84th Precinct honors them as if they were etched on stone tablets.

John del Signore at Gothamist got some officers at the 84th to explain the compact between police and the church:

Officer Brandon Bunting fielded our call and admitted that "it’s a
sensitive issue. I live in Harlem, and sometimes people park three cars
wide there. But you’re not allowed to block the bike lane, placard or
no placard; if some kid is riding his bike there and has to go out in
traffic, it could be bad. At the same time, it’s a sensitive community
issue and we try to work out a compromise." Another officer said, "For
years we have allowed people to park in front of the church while they

These wink-and-a-nod agreements are hardly exceptional. Last
year, Uncivil Servants shined a light on an Upper East Side synagogue, the Park East,
that fashioned bogus parking placards for its employees, all with the tacit approval of the local precinct.

As Streetsbloggers suggested this morning, think of what a blessing it would be if our local houses of worship tried to welcome their flocks in a way that doesn’t maximize driving and endanger other people using the street.

  • But you’re not allowed to block the bike lane, placard or no placard; if some kid is riding his bike there and has to go out in traffic, it could be bad.

    Yes, only kids ride bikes, because real adults have cars. Thanks, Officer Bunting! In the spirit of Thanksgiving and the Group W Bench,


  • J. Mork

    Funny how the police don’t feel the same about the church that serves Critical Mass.

  • The Dynamic Mumeshantz

    This happens all the time all day with or without placards. Course nowhere near what happens on Sunday mornings, but I see cops routinely drive by two or three cars parked there without even stopping.

  • S Greenberg

    Why not send an email to Rev. Beth Waltemath, Associate Pastor, at , and ask her why the church can’t be a better neighbor?

  • Paul

    Tow them and crush ’em!

  • This has to be done with sensitivity otherwise, you are going to have a mob protesting in front of every elected official and administrative office of the City. This is a bone that the police and the city throw to keep an organized constituency peaceful and to a certain extent under their thumb. It’s a fool’s bargain to think that regularly breaking the law is somehow acceptable.

  • Streetsman

    Anybody ever ridden on Dean Street between 6th Ave and Carlton in Brooklyn? One side of the street has a complete double row of parked cars from end to end during services at the Temple of Restoration. No idea how you would get your car out if you were parked behind the second row. And this on a street with a bike lane and a fire house. Long history of PD looking the other way on this stuff.

  • I just love the irony of people engaging in unethical and antisocial behavior on their way to church. No doubt those bike lane parkers consider themselves the paragon of morality.

  • fdr

    This is the same rationale for why the City Council passed a law ending parking meter collections on Sundays, so people in church wouldn’t have to run out to feed the meter.

  • CYRider

    One of the churches stated advocacy programs is to “Promote actions to reduce our ecological footprint through recycling, buying non-disposable goods, reducing fossil-fuel use, purchasing locally-grown produce.”

    So, driving to church and parking in the bike lane is a double whammy!

  • Jason A

    They do this in my neighborhood, too. It’s such a political hot potato, so whatever… but it’s really annoying when the cars are stacked so deep in the street there’s only one lane for travel, and invariably someone impatient rides on your back wheel and starts honking. Like, even though you’ve elected to travel on a space-sensitive vehicle that combats this very problem, it’s your fault the neighborhood has decided it wants to devote every last nook of street space to automobile storage.

    Just wanted to get that off my chest 🙂

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Two cheers for Judaism.

  • > “For years we have allowed people to park in front of the church while they worship.”

    I guess us atheists need to register at the rectory? I’d like to park in front of the local economy I’m stimulating but I keep getting these orange envelopes on my windshield….



    “You wanna know whether I’m moral enough to join the army…”

  • Mick

    This is separation of church and state working in reverse. The state will not go and penalize the church for its transgressions. Usually the leaders of these communities are well connected and cause waves when there is a disruption to there congregation. uphill battle I say

  • The Where

    This was on Brooklyn Heights Blog way before the cutter and pasters at Gothamist had it.

  • P

    BHB did post before Gothamist, but I sent mail to both, and Gothamist also added some original reporting – talking to both the precinct and the church.

    Both are fine blogs.

    I’ve posted an update on my blog: