Eyes on the Street: Sidewalks for Pedestrians at the 78th Precinct

Photo: Wayne Bailey
This sidewalk used to be a parking lot for police. Photo: Wayne Bailey

Props to the 78th Precinct and commanding officer Michael Ameri for this one. Reader Wayne Bailey sends photos showing that the 78th is starting to get the sidewalk parking situation under control near the precinct house. Previously this block of Sixth Avenue was occupied by officers’ personal vehicles:

Image: Google Maps
The old situation. Image: Google Maps

It might seem like a small thing, but this is a big deal for walking conditions near the 78th, which is right next to a subway station and retail blocks on Sixth Avenue, Bergen Street, and Flatbush Avenue.

Here’s what the sidewalk right in front of the precinct used to look like, with “combat parking” — vehicles perpendicular to the street, backed over the curb:

The block of Sixth Avenue in front of the 78th Precinct. Image: Google Maps

And here is the same block now. Only one vehicle is marring the sidewalk:

Photo: Wayne Bailey

78th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Brian Laffey said the precinct shifted some of its parking a block to the north. “The community wanted it, people with strollers. It’s much cleaner now,” he said. “We’re just trying to be good neighbors here.” Combat parking does remain in place on Bergen Street, where Laffey said the sidewalk is less pinched.

Bailey says the parking fix is emblematic of the 78th’s responsiveness to streets-related issues under Ameri. It’s the same precinct that started holding monthly meetings about traffic safety, and the same precinct that won over residents by keeping the Bergen Street bike lane clear.

You can always tell when you’re close to a police building in NYC, because that’s where you’ll see a lot of cars taking up sidewalk space and squeezing pedestrians. Even if the 78th hasn’t completely cleared the sidewalks near the precinct, it’s made a lot of progress and shown that it’s possible to rethink how NYPD manages vehicle storage.

  • Kevin Love

    How about the critical issue of police openly violating the law? When the police treat themselves as above the law this is profoundly disturbing. Is this the USA or a third world country where the police are a law unto themselves?

    We are in a serious situation when NYPD’s open contempt for the law ranges from parking on the sidewalk to beating up an 84-year-old Chinese man for the “crime” of “disrespecting” them for not understanding their English commands.

  • J

    It’s completely absurd that this is even up for discussion. This isn’t about cops being good neighbors, it’s about corruption; cops thinking that they are above the law. Parking on the sidewalk is ILLEGAL, plain and simple. The 78th precinct acts as though they are doing the community a favor by not breaking the law as much. Whoopy freakin do. STOP BREAKING THE LAW, you corrupt pigs!

  • BBnet3000

    Wow some progress on this.

    On DeKalb Ave theres a line of cops parked on the sidewalk on a block with an elementary school for fucks sake.

  • cjstephens

    I have trouble with anyone offering praise to cops for finally obeying the law. That Ameri still can’t get 100% compliance shows how strong the scofflaw culture is throughout the NYPD.

  • Jeff

    What do you think will better further our advocacy? Continuing to work alongside precincts like the 78th and commending them for making strides in the right direction, or shouting at them and calling them “corrupt pigs” for not making those strides fast enough?

  • Well said. And even if one believes that this was an example of “corruption,” then Ameri is to be commended for cleaning it up.

  • Bob

    Now let’s plant some trees there!

  • Clarke

    If it’s a private car and is not being used for police business, look for a legal spot or put it in a garage.

  • qrt145

    I agree that we shouldn’t have to thank cops for obeying the law, but still, I’m happy that this precinct is setting an example. I hope it will help defuse the nonsensical defense “but how do you expect these poor officers to park legally? It’s impossible!” Now we can say: if the 78th can, so can you.

  • Cold Shoaler

    *Partially* cleaning it up, but yes this is a huge improvement. And it looks like it was done without having to put barricades up, like they used for the bike lane.

  • ENYBrooklyn

    They do this at my local precinct. Google map the 75th precinct and you will see they take up sidewalks on Sutter ave. from Elton st. to Shepherd ave. 3 blocks, they even take up the sidewalk along the precinct on Essex st. when driving passed you have to go into the opposite lane of traffic to get by.

  • Joe R.

    They’ve started to park on the sidewalk as in the third picture down at the local 107th precinct. This is despite the fact that the precinct has a huge parking lot. Exactly how much parking do they need? Or are they parking on the sidewalk because it’s just too much trouble to drive their cars in and out of the parking lot?

    On more parking related madness, at PS 200 on 164th Street and 71st Avenue they insist on parking school buses overnight right in spots adjacent to the crosswalk even though there is room to park away from the crosswalk. This severely impedes visibility for anyone attempting to cross 164th Street. Who would I complain to about this, or should I just leave a note on the windshield of the buses until they park elsewhere? It should really be illegal everywhere in NYC to park within about 75 feet of an intersection.

  • pol

    ‘It should really be illegal everywhere in NYC to park within about 75 feet of an intersection.’

    For reference, most streets in Queens are 250 feet apart.

  • urbanresidue

    I don’t understand how there hasn’t been a class action lawsuit for the ADA violations. Many of the station houses are essentially inaccessible to the disabled to these illegal conditions. It is bad enough to be the victim of a crime; it is only worse to be victimized a second time when you have to go down to the police station.

  • J

    Police thinking that the law does not apply to them is rampant across the city. While the approach taken with the 78th precinct partially addresses one manifestation of the problem at the local level (sidewalk parking in the 78th precinct), it fails to fundamentally address the larger issue of police believing that they are above the law. In fact, in many ways it reinforces this notion. If you accept the notion that police only must obey the law because they want to be nice to us, then you also accept that the second they get tired of being nice, they’re free to go back to breaking the law. Do we, as a society accept this? Are police actually just benevolent dictators beholden to none?

    This behavior by the NYPD is a sign of deep deep corruption and lawlessness within the agency, giving rise to all sorts of terrible behavior, including rampant NYPD DUI, police brutality, and ignoring city and state laws about crash reporting and investigation.

    This is bigger than the 78th precinct, and while I’m glad to see cars of the sidewalk, the premise of the entire conversation is deeply troubling.

  • One should believe that using a position of power to commit illegal acts with impunity is an example of “corruption”, since that’s what corruption is. 🙂

  • Andrew

    Not just the station houses – also the sidewalks themselves.

  • George

    Breaking the law by combat parking j J?They have a fleet of vehicles and tried utilizing space by parking that way. The community became opposed and the precinct collaborated with them and rectified it.Sorry the city of New York didn’t put police precincts in spots where there is adequate parking and space for a fleet of marked cars and private vehicles that officers have to take to work .78 should be commended for changing this behavior and setting positive example for precincts citywide

  • Andrew

    They have a fleet of vehicles and tried utilizing space by parking that way.

    “That way” meaning on the sidewalk?

    And there are ways to get to work other than by personal vehicle – such as the adjacent subway station.

    I agree with your last sentence, but the police have no business violating the law. If you choose to drive to work, then you need to find a legal place to park your car. Sidewalks are for pedestrians, not cars.

  • J

    If the vehicle fleet needs of the police require more parking, then they should be given more legal on-street parking. Illegally taking space from pedestrians is probably the worst solution I can imagine. Since this is a widespread problem, it needs to be dealt with at a level higher than the police precinct.


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