How to Stop NYPD From Blocking Bike Lanes

Ninth Avenue, Midtown South Precinct. Photo: ## Miller##
Ninth Avenue, Midtown South Precinct. Photo: Stephen Miller

We’re seeing a lot of photos this week of police parked in bike lanes. Fortunately, there is something cyclists can do about it in addition to submitting documentation to Cops in Bike Lanes.

Blocking a lane is not merely a sign of disrespect on the the part of NYPD. It’s illegal, and it poses a risk to people on bikes who are forced into auto traffic (and are sometimes ticketed for their trouble).

DNAinfo reported this week that NYPD plans to open Twitter accounts for all precincts. This will make it easier to complain directly (and publicly) to NYPD about police in bike lanes.

If you can make the time, you can also speak face to face with commanding officers via precinct community councils. Every precinct has a community council, and meeting info is posted on each precinct’s web page. NYPD has a precinct locator if you’re not sure which jurisdiction applies. NYPD may often come across as a big blue wall, but local officers do respond when people show up to speak with them.

Eighth Avenue, outside Penn Station, Midtown South Precinct. Photo: ##
Eighth Avenue, outside Penn Station, Midtown South Precinct. Photo: @joseapie

One of the photos in this post was taken in the 6th Precinct, and two in Midtown South, where police regularly take over the bike lane outside Penn Station, within feet of a huge Citi Bike dock.

Inspector Edward J. Winski is the commanding officer for Midtown South. The Midtown South community council meets on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m at the New Yorker Hotel, 481 Eighth Ave. The community affairs phone number is 212-239-9846.

The 6th Precinct CO is Inspector Elisa A. Cokkinos. The community council meets on the last Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at 25 Carmine St. The community affairs phone number is 212-741-4826.

Washington Square North, 6th Precinct. Photo: ##
Washington Square North, 6th Precinct. Photo: jennifergolby/Instagram
  • urbanresidue

    311 needs to add blocked bike lanes to the Service Requests on their app. The NYPD is largely data-driven, so it would help to be able to actually get them the data on the problem.

  • Tyler

    That first photo with the motorcycles is infuriating…. they shouldn’t be parking their motorcycles there in the first place, BUT the *way* the parked isn’t just lazy, entitlement type behavior. This is INTENTIONAL and spiteful blocking of the bike lane.

    They could have placed their motorcycles parallel to the curb, creating a fairly limited obstruction. However, they took *extra* effort to pull over, then back in and make their motorcycles perpendicular to the curb.

    This is like me not only stopping my car along the curb in a non-stopping zone (or double-parking), but parking my car sideways to maximize my full lane-blocking potential! Just crazy.

  • qrt145

    They are parked that way to minimize the _length_ of the bike lane that is occupied. You know, to maximize the space that’s left for parallel parking of cars and vans on the bike lane later…

  • BBnet3000

    Flexible delineators might help for curbside lanes.

    Most of the blocking I see is still civilian vehicles, so if we could get the NYPD to enforce that, perhaps the irony of themselves doing it might start to occur to the cops.

  • Carl S

    I don’t think you’ll make much headway. I reported dozens of police cars that parked on the greenway for weeks to 311 and they closed the case saying it was work related. I also reported cases of unmarked cars parked under “no standing anytime” signs outside a fire department and got the same response.

  • Carl S

    It seems to be at the discretion of whomever is on duty because the police department used to ask the cars outside the fire department not to park there. For the past 3 months I always get responses saying no action is needed.

  • Kevin Love

    “… civilian vehicles…”

    Last time I checked, NYPD was not military police.

  • BBnet3000

    I meant civilian as opposed to government (id have said the same thing if these were DOT or parks department vehicles).

  • Moore

    This is in NO way a defense of these cops, BUT, this is they way (per the DMV) you are supposed to park motorcycles. I suspect the equation here is habit (how they parked) + hubris (where they parked) = menace to bikes.

  • I think the idea is just to make it easy so that more people will do it, and the number of (closed) complaints will reflect the harm caused. But I’m more hopeful that public complaints on Twitter will have an effect. It is illegal to park illegally, even for work. What a backward city we live in, where this is even a question!

    It’s easy enough for bureaucrats to lie in their own controlled 311 system, but it’s another thing on a public forum where false claims can be easily refuted.

  • Tyler

    Sure, it’s the way you’re supposed to park a bike when you’re in a parking space…. When you are *blocking* something, you usually take effort to minimize the effort. Call it habit, hubris, ignorance, a-holeness, whatever you’d like…. it’s just the standard above-the-law corruption that the NYPD has as their core value.

    I mean, “traffic enforcement” agents creating dangerous bottlenecks routinely by double-parking in order to ticket things like parking meters and expired inspection stickers… while ignoring actually dangerous things (including their own behavior)! It’s all part of the mix. It’s sad. Maybe it’s poor training? Maybe some of them are just stupid? Doesn’t matter. The effect is the same. When you behave in a way that you could/would/do punish others for, well….

  • Clarke

    Also, can attach photos to tweets, with license plate number clearly visible. Cannot do so on 311 (for parking violations…other issues do allow for photo upload, which suggests that they really DON’T want to issue tickets for illegal parking)

  • AdBastard

    You’re all a bit whiny on both sides of the aisle.

  • Tyler

    Whiny? This isn’t a matter of “once in a while” that cyclists and pedestrians are inconvenienced… This is an issue of NYPD officer regarding bicycle lanes/paths and sidewalks as *appropriate* places to stop/park their vehicles. Not for responding to emergencies — they can block everything and the kitchen sink for that — not a problem. It creates frequent and unnecessarily dangerous situations for roadway and sidewalk users (i.e., the opposite of what the police are supposed to be doing) and it undermines the respect for the badge that they should be instilling in the public. The corrupt do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do attitude is self-defeating and harmful. Why shouldn’t everyone park their cars in bike lanes and on sidewalks and double-parked when you need to pick up your lunch or do a little shopping? The police do it!

    Put some more police on bikes and maybe send a bunch out in wheelchairs, then maybe we’ll start to see bike lanes and sidewalks clear up….

  • LD8

    Go to the politicians and elected officials. The only way to stop police officers from doing this is to force them. In my town, we eliminated this problem a while ago by raising hell about it to councilors and other elected leaders. We made it the front-page of local newspapers. Within a few months the problem was completely eliminated and I’ve not seen an occurrence in years.

  • Mrpc

    Emergency vehicles including police, medical and fire can and should park WHEREVER is convienient. Imagine a family member or a friend needs emergency assistance and the responding vehicle is forced to circle the block looking for legal parking before exiting the vehicle to render aid. MADNESS.

  • Mrpc

    Sillytalk. Whiny indeed.

  • Brad Aaron

    Thanks for the input, straw man.

    Read first, then write.

  • Ian Turner

    These vehicles are not responding to emergencies.

  • Mrpc

    Really? How would you know? .. Oh that’s right you don’t have a clue.

  • Tyler

    If you can’t tell the difference between a police officer responding to an emergency and a police officer getting a coffee at a bodega, you might be dimmer than I first suspected.

  • Mrpc

    That goes for u 2 BRAAAD… BrAD…jesus..I know nothing exceeds the importance of your bicycle ride but you don’t have the slightest idea of what emergency responders are doing or planning.

  • There’s a spot on my commute home (near the junction of Schermerhorn and Hoyt in downtown Brooklyn, since you ask) where I come across a police vehicle parked in the bike lane pretty much every other night. It’s on a corner where there are often cars to one’s right and one can’t see the vehicle until one’s turned the corner and it’s directly in the way.

    The vehicles are always parked, entirely unattended and there’s a police station nearby.

    But, yeah, who am I to say they’re not responding to an emergency? How can I know it’s not an emergency? Why am I presuming to put ordinary, hard-working New Yorkers at risk for my bike lane?


  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    Why is there no internal affairs for quality of life issues? I’m all for the normal internal affairs going after the worst cops, the rapists, murders and thieves. But we should demand a lower level internal affairs to go after illegal behavior like this. We can all recognize that in an emergency people may need to do things outside of the normal rules. But when you scofflaw the rules other times, you should be nailed to the wall. It’s just another sign Bratton doesn’t have control of his police force.

  • Kevin Love

    Interesting usage. As an Army veteran, I am used to phrases like “civilian control of the Armed Forces.” Or “… in 1983 Argentina made the transition from military rule to a civilian government.”

    In other words, “civilian” is an antonym to “military.”

  • Kevin Love

    I would be willing to wager that almost all of the cops who engage in serious crimes of violence started off with lesser offences. Being able to commit illegal acts with impunity leads to an atmosphere of entitlement where more and more serious crimes are committed.

  • Kevin Love

    The flashing lights and siren tend to be a subtle hint that there might be an emergency response.

  • Kevin Love

    In many parts of the world, whenever an emergency vehicle is obstructing a live traffic lane, it is required to have on its flashing emergency lights. The reason being that obstructing a live traffic lane such as a bike lane creates a hazard, and the lights provide a warning.

  • qrt145

    Per Merriam-Webster, “civilian: a person who is not a member of the military or of a police or firefighting force.”

  • Kevin Love

    Interesting usage. It is common in the Army to use terms like “civilian police” to differentiate them from Military Police.

  • Joe R.

    No sirens or lights. They teach you that stuff in grade school.

  • qrt145

    Of course that’s right too; it depends on the context.

    It shouldn’t be too surprising given that police and firefighting forces have military-like hierarchies and culture (the police has captains, lieutenants, etc.; the fire department has battalions and divisions…).

  • Rabi

    Strawman. An emergency vehicle responding to an emergency obviously should be able to park anywhere. But I’ve seen emergency vehicles parked dangerously so the driver can eat lunch or use an ATM. That’s unacceptable.

  • Rabi

    In normal life, where the military isn’t really a presence, I think using “civilian” to mean “not police” is pretty common.

  • Rabi

    With the current push for Vision Zero, COs are feeling the pressure to be on the right side of streets issues. Calling out individuals, especially if you get plate numbers, can make a difference.

    Everyone should go to their local precinct meetings if at all possible. It’s such an important resource.

  • Kevin Love
  • AdBastard


  • Guest

    Buying donuts isn’t an emergency


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