Henry St. Placard Abuser Fends Off NYPD By Mixing Church and State

Is the operator of this car on official Parks Department business or praying? And why does either activity excuse parking in the bike lane? Photo: Peter Kaufman

At this point, it’s hardly news that the length of the Henry Street bike lane was filled with parked cars yesterday (see here and here). Being a Sunday, it was par for the course, though still infuriating, that churchgoers were taking advantage of an informal agreement with the police to snatch that lane away from cyclists and give it to parkers during services. Can it get more outrageous than the status quo? Yes it can.

Ink Lake blogger Peter Kaufman snapped a few pics that nicely capture the multiple layers of exemptions and perks that NYC’s entitled motoring class employs at the curbside. A white SUV was parked in the bike lane. On the side and rear windows was printed “City of New York Parks & Recreation, Construction Division, Official Use Only.” On the front dashboard sat a homemade placard: “Attending Liturgy: Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral.”

From the driver’s perspective, this was probably a sensible belt-and-suspenders approach. If the police officer wouldn’t give the driver a pass for being a fellow city employee, being at church should put him over the top.

From the perspective of common sense and the law, of course, the doubled-up exemption shows just how absurd the system has become. The city had better hope that its employees aren’t attending mass as official business, or this could pretty quickly turn into a matter for the ACLU and not just transportation advocates. And whether it’s waiving the rules for city employees or worshippers, the NYPD doesn’t have the authority to change the rules for groups it favors and put cyclists’ safety at risk in the process.

  • Anonymous

    religion has held society as a hostage for so long it feels like normal to many people, exempt not only from taxes, but accommodated automatically because they have “faith”. There are a couple of Pat Condell videos that come to mind.

  • Anonymous

    religion has held society as a hostage for so long it feels like normal to many people, exempt not only from taxes, but accommodated automatically because they have “faith”. There are a couple of Pat Condell videos that come to mind.

  • Cberthet

    They are praying for a miracle to happen and the bike lane to disappear!

  • Steve Nuozzo

    Don’t forget this great bit of info from Peter’s post:

    “Before he left with his kids, the Henry Street resident also told me that that having the the cars on the sidewalk every Sunday, causes the pavement to crack and it’s the homeowners who are responsible for the cost of repairing it.”

    The church pays no taxes, and homeowners are left footing the bill from their services. If private citizens ruined church property, the Post would be all over it.

  • Ty

    This should be on the list, but not high on the list. The NYPD need to try doing a little traffic enforcement of ANY kind. I’d love to know how many dozen speeding ticket the NYPD has written… because I’ve seen a total of 4 cars pulled over in Brooklyn since I moved here 4 years ago. 1 a year! Wooo Hooo!

    Meanwhile the aggressive, dangerous behavior I see (as a pedestrian, biker and driver) is amazing — and not in a good way.

    I’d almost accept people parked in bike lanes if the traffic in the other lanes moved slower than 50 mph!

  • Anonymous

    So it says “Official use only” on the vehicle? Who should this be reported to?

  • Eric McClure

    What would Jesus do? It’s pretty certain he wouldn’t park in the bike lane. New York City needs to put an end to this shameful and dangerous behavior.

  • Pete

    You know, I’ve been wondering – the NYPD Compstat program results in all major crimes being posted & measured on a per-precinct basis. It’s even updated on a near-weekly timeframe.

    Why isn’t the same information being posted with regards to tickets written?

  • Bolwerk

    I have a modest proposal: if, for some reason, you have to have a legitimate use for a parking placard for official business in NYC, you have to drive a smart car.

  • Jkspinning

    Need a cyclist to volenteer to crash into a car parked in the bike lane and get the courts involved.

  • Anonymous

    It’s doing that on its own. Look at how bad the bike lane paint job looks. I was walking home past Berkeley Place, and the bike lane there is barely recognizable. I hope the city repaints soon.

  • The Truth

    Try getting organized to submit mass 311 complaints.
    There’s only so much they can gloss over the stats.

  • krstrois

    I just had to prematurely replace 100 foot of sidewalk in front of my Brooklyn house because the truck traffic on our street is so intense and they double park on our curb. I think if I had to replace because of religion I would go totally insane.

  • 1) Residents have to pay for cracked sidewalks caused by cars and trucks but all of us have to pay for the damage done by cars and trucks on the public roads. Even people like me who ride bikes, or use public transportation. And when I see something like 75% of cars with single drivers, I want to spit nails when people complain about how the MTA is “draining money” from the poor, poor drivers.

    2) Why do you get special priviledges because you’re religious? This is insane and strikes me as unconstitutional. I’ve said this before but if you want to drive your goddam car to church, you should have to find proper parking for it JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Or your church should provide parking JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Or take the train.

    Or ride a bike.

  • Ty

    But Suzanne, you’re provided free sign posts to lock you bike to. 🙂

  • KRN

    Official NYC vehicles have special license plates that indicate that they are registered to the government. This has regular license plates, so it’s someone’s personal vehicle that they are trying to pretend is an official vehicle. I don’t even think that Parks has a division known as Construction…

  • mike

    There is indeed a Construction division, but this vehicle looks suspect.



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