Eyes on the Street: Who Will Protect the Protected Bike Lane From NYPD?

Reader David Holowka sent these photos of NYPD breaking the law and putting cyclists’ lives at risk on Eighth Avenue, across from Madison Square Garden near a massive Citi Bike station.

“Here’s the scene in front of the Main Post Office this morning,” Holowka writes. “I watched several cyclists diverted into car traffic. A nice tragedy and lawsuit against the city in the making!”

Holowka is a regular bike commuter on Eighth and Ninth Avenues, and says police routinely use both protected bike lanes on this block, between 31st and 33rd Streets, “as a rush-hour NYPD parking lot.”

“On my commute home, the Ninth Ave. bike lane behind the Post Office is often blocked by NYPD traffic police cars or postal vehicles, despite plenty of room for them to park elsewhere,” he writes. “It’s done so brazenly as to suggest sanctioning by NYPD.”

The photos below were taken on July 3, in the middle of the NYPD bike-ticketing blitz — when police were blocking bike lanes and issuing criminal charges against cyclists who attempted to ride around their cars. Holowka, who posted some of the pics on his blog, says all four cyclists pictured were “forced into busy vehicle traffic in 40 seconds” by parked and double-parked NYPD vehicles.

  • Perhaps bike activists should carry around books of fake parking tickets that cite the section of parking code these cops are in violation of.

  • Anonymous

    What is so frustrating about this is if the police parked in one of the car lanes, the risk of death and injury to the other drivers would be minimal. Yet they choose to risk the lives of the most vulnerable — those without one ton of steel and air bags around them.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe DOT should put some bollards that allow bikes through but not cars.

    (Ideally, we would want cars to be able to pass for snow removal and such. But I’d rather have the lane blocked with snow a couple of weeks per year than by police cars 365.2422 days per year.)

  • Adam Herstein

    NYPD is above the law.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Can we follow up with an inquiry with this precinct with photos of the offending police cruisers? Every precinct has Community Affairs officers who are supposed to handle this kind of thing.

  • Actually that is illegal. You could get a ticket for writing someone a fake ticket.

  • There are plenty of narrow snow plows out there that can fit in between the bollards. Snow removal is no excuse for not putting up bollards.

  • Anonymous

    “Supposed to.” Let’s just leave it at that.

  • Anonymous

    “Supposed to.” Let’s just leave it at that.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Liza Mueller

    I work in an office overlooking 8th ave in the mid 30s, and often ride the 8th Ave lane. From our perch we have observed both the ticketing blitz and the blockage of bike lanes by police cars. Taxis and livery cabs partially blocking the lane in front of the New Yorker Hotel are also a common problem.

    This is the precinct for the area: http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/precincts/precinct_014.shtml

    Does anyone have experience having productive communications with their Community Affairs liaison? Any tips?

  • Mark Walker

    To serve and protect a status quo that’s on its way out. As opposed to, say, oh, the taxpayers paying for their paychecks and gold-plated benefits. The NYPD seems to have too much time on its hands. It might be improved by a round of layoffs, with traffic enforcement shifted to DOT, which might do a better job of it.

  • Thingsinthebikelane


  • They’ll tell you they can park wherever they want “in the line of duty” and that will be that. At least that’s how the Stockholm police tend to put it …

  • http://facebook.com/blockeradecykelbanor – from Stockholm, Sweden.
    Bike lanes, especially without a curb, are a magnet for illegal parking.

  • Robert Wright

    I seldom cycle on the Manhattan Avenues (I use the Greenway for my commute from Brooklyn, then head up W54th Street). But last Friday I went to a lunch meeting at Union Square down the Broadway “bike lane” (a quaint name for a part of Broadway where people walk, wheel deliveries and drive) then headed back up 8th avenue. The whole of 8th avenue was stressful. The bit around Penn Station was pretty bad, but the section round the Port Authority Bus Terminal was also pretty terrible. A parks department vehicle pulled fast towards the bike lane near Union Square, I shouted a warning and the driver started yelling at me. In addition, no vehicles – none at all – voluntarily obeyed the “yield to cyclists” signs at the westbound cross-streets. Police was stationed at many of these corners and watched the motorists’ rule-breaking with the dead eyes that only a seriously donut-starved, bored NYPD officer can manage.

  • Stacy Walsh Rosenstock

    Earlier this week I came across the 6th Precinct’s Night Out Against Crime barbecue in Father Demo Square. For whatever reason, they had all the CitiBikes removed from the Carmine Street BikeShare station and had wrapped it in yellow tape. If NYPD can’t resist interfering with BikeShare how can we ever expect them to stay out of protected bike lanes? Anything concerning bikes seems to draw them like flies to honey.

  • moocow

    And I would rather hand shovel the lanes than put up with this crap.

  • Robert Wright

    If the police were acting towards pretty much any other group in the persistently prejudiced way they act towards cyclists, there’d be a civil rights law suit about it. I don’t think cyclists have the same range of problems as groups whose civil rights are systematically abused. But I can’t help feeling there should be some term for how the police marginalize cyclists – and some remedy: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-ride-past-city-hall-rally-and-why-i.html

  • Anonymous

    Just write “please don’t park in the bike lane” on a sheet of paper and slip it under the wiper

  • J

    In DC, the city puts up plastic bollards at the entrances to some of the protected lanes during the summer, and removes them for snow plowing in the winter. Not sure about street sweeping, though.

  • Anonymous

    But if they get these calls and complaints day after day, and at every community meeting, they’ll start to take the hint.

  • Ian Turner
  • I hope so!

  • Anonymous

    I’m shocked that the NYPD would do this, said nobody.

  • Bike infrastructure should be plowed by specialized vehicles that brush away the snow instead of using a traditional plow.

    Check this out:

    Easily small enough to fit in most protected bike infrastructure

  • Calista DeJesus

    I doubt that this will change much but lets all write to transportation alternatives,police commissioner and dot. The more of us thst complain, tge better. Look what happened with bergen st bike lane? We must speak up

  • thingsinthebikelane

    It’s good to see that driver douchebaggery transcends borders, because if there’s one thing that all drivers can agree on it’s surely that having even a modicum of respect for anyone else they share the road with is second to their own convenience.

  • alex

    Will someone with a lot of money and a good lawyer just please smash into the back of one of these squad cars in a bike lane? I would volunteer but I am too broke…

  • Scott Sanderson

    Wow these photos are really egregious.

  • Sean Kelliher

    Last year, I tried to fix a problem similar to this. At Thanksgiving, on Second Avenue at East 21st Street in Manhattan, a Christmas tree vendor set up shop on the sidewalk. This was fine. But then he used the bike lane to park his pick-up truck every day. This wasn’t fine and it was dangerous.

    Interestingly, the guy never seemed to get a ticket. After a while, I got frustrated and visited the 13th precinct, which ironically was across the street from the stand. I asked the desk officer if someone from the precinct could tell the vendor not to park there. They promised to get right on it. Nothing happened. I waited and then filed a complaint with 311. Nothing happened. I waited some more and then called the 13th Precinct’s Community Affairs division. The detective there assured me he would get on it. Nothing happened and the vendor parked there until he dismantled his stand at Christmas.

    My advice is to contact community affairs and follow up with the same person you speak with initially. I tried different routes which I don’t think was helpful. The desk people in precincts rotate and it is probably difficult to talk with the same one more than once. Also, 311 requests are often met with cryptic replies something like “the location was investigated and no evidence supporting the claim was found.” Additionally, they are impossible to respond to. I wish you good luck.

  • Cold Shoaler

    The “bike lanes” on 8th and 9th in midtown are less than useless. The cops, delivery trucks, pedestrians, cabs, hotdog carts, businesses (garbage), etc., do this every day. [Thank you for the take-the-lane opportunity; I was so bored over there on that green sidewalk, without any cars.] I’ve heard from more than a few people that they would commute more frequently if these “bike lanes” weren’t so stupid.

  • Anonymous

    I was in a similar situation with a gas station down the block that likes to park on the sidewalk. Contact your community board and city council representative. I got some traction and some results but its pretty obvious that for some reason the local precinct has decided to let these guys park where they want.

  • Galfromdownunder

    I have to admit I thought police in general were above the law. They have to do something pretty bad (like shoot someone) to be hauled over coals and face it, languishing in a bike lane must rate pretty low. What really irks me are pedestrians blithely strolling or even power walking in the bike lane. I fantasize about buzzing one of them ever so gently with my handlebar … alas, we’d both probably end up in a mangled Marc-Jacobs-tote-n-tubes heap..,

  • Lisa Zwick

    I took 8th Ave yesterday for the first time in a long time and observed that the “protected” bike lane is just extra sidewalk. I rode the streets most of the time (with angry drivers behind me bc Citibike cant really go much more than 10mph). If the cops don’t respect the lanes themselves, they certainly will never enforce them.

  • Where is Danny MacCaulif (sp?) when you need him? Or a decent BMX street rider to use those cars as “streetscape” to ride tricks over?

  • callmeL

    Some cop should give that illegally parked car a ticket, hah!

    Check out Central Park West and 60th. Bike Lane disappears for 1-2 blocks because it is reserved for some random parking spaces with cars perpendicular to the curb. I’m not sure if this is true, but someone told me those are the personal cars of cops that drive to work. If this is true that is some sweet parking, but it wouldn’t make sense since there are so many parking garages nearby.

  • Rabi Abonour

    You’ll probably get written up for vandalism or something.


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