Eyes on the Street: Drivers Retake the Kent Avenue Bike Lane

DOT reconfigured the southern part of the Kent Avenue bike lane this spring, but that hasn’t stopped drivers from taking over the lane and the sidewalk for personal parking.

A reader took this photo earlier today. He writes:

I bike from LIC to Clinton Hill every morning and use the Kent Ave bike path. Luckily there was an upstanding citizen already on the phone with 311. This obstruction was particularly dangerous because it was forcing bikes into oncoming traffic. It wasn’t just one car either, it was six.

Part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway route, this stretch of Kent Avenue was given a road diet after a hit-and-run driver killed two people at Wilson Street in March 2013. Parking in the bike lane was a chronic issue before the redesign, and drivers continued to use it after the lane was painted. Then plastic posts went in, but at this point it’s clear this problem is not going away without an upgraded physical barrier or NYPD enforcement.

This section of Kent is on the border of the 88th and 90th Precincts. We’ve asked NYPD if the department is enforcing parking laws there.

105 thoughts on Eyes on the Street: Drivers Retake the Kent Avenue Bike Lane

  1. I’ve never understood how this isn’t fixable with enforcement. Just come along once an hour and tow the cars here, they know they’re parked illegally, and the way they’ve parked is dangerous, this is not the same offense as letting the meter run out. I don’t think a person would do this again if they came back and their car was gone. Same for double parking. People do it because they can get away with it, or because the fine is minimal its worth the risk.

  2. You know those are probably owned by police officers. Which is why they know they’ll get away with it.

  3. There are a lot of things about Vision Zero that are hard. This is not one of them. Tow the cars, erect a concrete barrier, and the problem will be solved.

  4. This is a real danger to all the people using the greenway. Even more people use this spot now that it is even safer. The message to moms, kids, seniors, and everyday commuter cyclists is – you don’t matter.

  5. I recall reading something similar about this stretch a few months ago. It seems that NYPD and the local community have made a deal to allow parking there from time to time.

  6. Those cars are almost certainly owned by Hasidim, who take over that stretch of Kent Ave during every High Holiday. There’s a big gathering space of some sort right across the street. The reason they won’t get ticketed or towed is that they’re a political force to be reckoned with, and it’s Rosh Hashanah. A better design is the only way.

  7. Interesting. How does this fit in with Mayor de Blasio’s vow to increase community engagement on bike lanes?

  8. It is likely that this is related to Rosh Hashanah, and that the ‘time to time’ relates to Jewish Holidays and/or Satmar events. I was planning to use this with my kids tonight to go to Rosh Hashanah dinner in W’burg. Maybe there is a way to appease all if this is considered an accommodation to a specific community group.
    I wonder if one of the warehouses could rent parking space for Jewish Holidays.

  9. If I ever meet Bill Bratton I will dare him to do 3 miles of my commute with me. Any able-bodied person from 5-75 years old should be able to ride 3 miles on a bicycle.

    If he makes it up 5th Ave and Smith St alive, I think he may decide to start enforcing Vision Zero.

    By the way, I’d gladly bring Commissioner Trottenberg and Mayor De Blasio along too.

  10. Every time I ride on St. Nick just south of 125th, I see 15-20 cars parked this way, sticking out into the bike lane. They’re all NYPD, because the 33rd is right there. Good luck with this one.

  11. In most cases its cops but in this case its locally influential Hasidic Jews. You can tell because the chosen people have been chosen to own Toyota Siennas.

  12. Alternate side parking is already suspended for the holiday, so theres somewhat more parking space than usual. Thats a very shitty excuse if thats the one theyre using.

  13. Yep. They’re usually more on the sidewalk than in the bike lane there, at least as far as I’ve seen. It’s very Vision Zero to have to walk in the 3 foot space between the back of the cars and the brick wall of the building.

  14. I understand the uproar regarding drivers taking over the bike lane and forcing cyclists into traffic. But not once does this article mention or show concern for the sidewalks rendered unnavigable.

    This is why the bicycle lobby frustrates me because it doesn’t even consider the cyclist before or after he/she dismounts. Or even a bicyclist at heart who has to take the bus one day but has to navigate THIS.

  15. There are plenty of past posts on this same topic. Many comments about the sidewalk. Plus: wanting to get the cars out of the bike lanes would also mean freeing up the sidewalk. Not sure what mentioning the “bicycle lobby” in your comment is all about. The people on this blog are heavily pro-ped & pro-bike.

  16. But see, it’s not just about bicyclists when it comes to improving the viability and desirability of sidewalks, every city’s largest transit network. Sidewalks serve as a buffer between public thoroughfares and private ownership. So, I’d like to think that by addressing sidewalks as *never* being a place for motor vehicles, bicyclists have their cake and eat it too.

  17. I often daydream about undertaking such a trip with some of those in charge of these matters in the city. I did actually once (accidentally) ride several miles with Boris Johnson when I lived in London because he was on his bike, was lost and knew I knew how to get him where he needed to go. But Smith St/Jay St to the Manhattan Bridge in the morning rush would be a good crash (pun intended) course in what’s wrong with the city’s streets.

  18. The parking in the bike lane there is to do with events in the Satmar premises across the street or in the Steiner Studios. It’s really dangerous at that point and yet in the previous incident mentioned in the link above – which I reported to Streetsblog – the NYPD were essentially supervising the operation.

  19. The police were supervising the incident I encountered in June. The police have been persuaded that this is a reasonable solution to the occasional desire for large numbers of people to park minivans near the Satmar headquarters.

  20. Yah no shit buddy. You’re preaching to the choir.

    Except for this part, which is gibberish.

    So, I’d like to think that by addressing sidewalks as *never* being a place for motor vehicles, bicyclists have their cake and eat it too.

  21. A lot of us in the bicycle lobby have made very clear suggestions to NYPD, DOT, and elected officials that ending the abuse of sidewalk parking and this kind of motorist entitlement has to be a part of Vision Zero.

  22. I know it’s not just about bicyclists. We all know that. I’d say about 98.6% of the people on this list are all about pedestrians and cyclists (and transit). I’m as pro-ped as they come, if you were looking at my Twitter feed today you’d see I tweeted about a dozen photos of new pedestrian infra in my neighborhood today.

  23. It’s a testament to the dysfunctional and corrupt nature of NYC politics that things like this continue to happen. When mayors, city council members, police chiefs, and police officers look the other way at situation like this, they create a de facto different set of laws for groups that have power and money.

    In a well-run government, by contrast, if access for an event is a problem on certain days, they FIX THE PROBLEM, not just screw over the safety of people walking and biking (which includes Hassidim) in order to cater to the event. This is bad governance. This is corrupt governance, This is not democracy. Ugh.

  24. Actually it does mention the sidewalk. And we write about pedestrian safety issues every day.

    Plus I don’t ride a bike, so I don’t know that I’m even a member of the bicycle lobby.

  25. #visionzero apparently includes tripling the parking supply in New York by allowing parking on sidewalks. Nice work, Bratton! Way to stick up for vulnerable users.

  26. In this particular area, sidewalks are not terribly relevant. Lots of bikes on this route, very few pedestrians.

  27. It’s suspended because they can’t/won’t drive on holidays, useful in areas where both sides of the street would otherwise have to be cleared during the holiday.

  28. Green-painted bike lane
    Double-white lines
    Buffer zone
    Brightly-indicated signalization
    No-parking signs

    Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Do we need barbed wire fences, tire spikes and armed guards to keep cars off the bike lanes?!

  29. Why won’t it be enforced? Do your police not enforce your laws? I thought police officers were public employees who work for the taxpayers? Of course I’m being facetious here, but I think your point highlights a different problem with police forces, almost everywhere in the country. Sadly not the most serious problem facing police.

    That being said, I’m more pointing out that at least where I’m from, enforcement would mean ticketing, and relatively small tickets, not towing. This is sufficiently bad as a safety issue, and its sufficiently obvious that its illegal that I think towing is warranted.

  30. This is easier said than done. Here’s the problem: Four or five nights a year, a large volume of people gather together in one spot to celebrate religious holidays. The people choose to drive, which is not surprising considering there is no subway near this spot. So what’s the fix? Tear down housing or commercial structures to build parking lots or garages that would be filled only a few nights a year? If you build a garage or a parking lot, now that property’s owner has a financial incentive to stay open year round, which encourages more auto-dependence. I’m not sure that’s preferable to what is happening now. I’m more concerned that NYPD does this every single day on St. Nicholas Avenue, as the commenter above noted, than here on a handful of High Holy Days. I think some of the angst over the usurpation of the bike land and sidewalk would be reduced if the City was just open about what happens, and posted signs that said 90-degree back-in sidewalk parking allowed at this site on X, Y and Z days.

  31. This isn’t double parking. This is a “protected” bike lane that is not protected well enough to stop people from parking on it and the sidewalk. A more robust design is a perfectly simple approach to ending this problem forever. Do that and the cops can concentrate their very necessary enforcement efforts in places where design is not the answer.

  32. There’s enough room to ride between the minivans and the bollards. I think even two could squeeze by each other, perhaps.

    If this really only happens a few days a year (for a few hours) I don’t have a huge problem with it.

    P.S. I work near here. When the bollards went in, I noticed that the gaps between them seemed bigger than usual. I wonder if that was done on purpose, specifically to allow this practice to continue.

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DOT Plans Road Diet and Bikeway Upgrade on Deadly Section of Kent Avenue

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