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. You could probably pass through with some trepidation both on the sidewalk and in the bike lane. The problem though is that this kind of behavior delivers a terrible message: that the convenience of motorists is always more important than the safety and comfort of pedestrians or bicyclists. It also says that certain groups are above the law and sets a bad precedent. If the Hasidics can do this, why can’t I do it for my book club meeting, family reunion, etc. We pay taxes too.

  2. Aren’t they doing both already? That’s why the minivans are used? Actually I think there’s a huge parking lot in the Navy Yard. They should open that up for parking.

  3. Put up concrete barriers alongside the bike lane and the double-parkers could only be out in the travel lane, blocking themselves. That’s fixing with design.

  4. The first rule of the All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby is that you do not talk about the All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby. Since Brad isn’t talking about it, he’s clearly running the whole thing.

  5. You realize that the lanes are way out here on the periphery because of a deliberate campaign by a handful in the community to block bicyclists going through there, right?

    They got their way. Seems to me they should try their side-by-side parking along the street where the bike lane was removed.

  6. So where is that new Inspector General???

    This is flagrant dereliction of duty by the NYPD. Isn’t this why we needed independent oversight?

  7. BestParking.com shows lots at Kent & S9th, S6th & Kent, and S 6th and Berry. I’m assuming these lots were all at capacity when this trespassing occurred?

  8. Seeing that NYC is the media capitol of the world, I see this as a great opportunity for livability advocates to stage a large-scale protest. Hundreds in the streets with signs chanting as a tow truck comes to remove the cars of the selfish bastards.

  9. That’s private property. The city has the authority to regulate public space as it sees fit. In this case, the city is routinely not enforcing the posted signs and therefore condoning this activity during those times.

    @SeanKelliher:disqus, the “behavior” you’re referring to is really that of NYPD.

    But, like I said, the bollards were placed is such a way as to ALLOW this. DOT knew about this activity. If they really wanted to prevent it they would have placed the bollards closer together. They just don’t have the guts to do it.

  10. In my town, I think the police don’t even have a lot to do with it. If other city employees were in charge, they could just call up the towing company when there was a complaint, no need for the police.

  11. Vancouver, BC. We do have problems with vehicles in bike lanes, for sure – but cars parked on a sidewalk & a bike lane would not fly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car parked on a sidewalk here (knock on wood).

  12. So long as people fear that parking on a sidewalk would get their car towed, it should stay that way. Unfortunately it appears that NYC didn’t care so much, and now people can park in these ridiculous places without worry.

  13. I’m actually referring to double parking in the driving lanes. I actually do care that drivers can get through as well. In fact, I wouldn’t even call a driver parking in a bike lane “double parking”.

  14. Hello, and welcome to New York City. Today is the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish festival of the new year. Kent Ave is a street that runs beside the Hasidic section of Williamsburg, separating it from the Navy Yard. This holiday, as well as a few other holidays, results in large groups of people visiting from outside the area. Unfortunately there is a shortage of parking space. This results in people parking on the west side of Kent. While this does present an obstacle it is not an obstruction. The street is still available. You also have every right to complain to the city and to the police. It won’t do you much good because the Hasidim are extremely political and well organized and, let’s be honest, it’s their neighborhood. But complain because it just tells people you’re new to the area and don’t know much of anything about the people around you.

  15. “It’s their neighborhood” is not a justification for unlawfully occupying the public right of way, which affects everyone who goes through the neighborhood too.

    A complaint doesn’t mean one is new to the area, only that one has refused to accept the abuse that’s going on.

    And no, God’s law doesn’t supersede the Rules of the City of New York, no matter what your religion is (I’m peeved too by Christians and Muslims who act the same way).

  16. Oh, “it’s always been that way, ergo it will always be that way.” There’s obviously no other alternative. You know what, if some events related to the high holidays creat a justifiable reason to close some portion of the street (or all of it) do it properly – advance notice, proper safety measures, etc. Your argument is a red herring. That these vehicles aren’t obstructing motor vehicle lanes showed the contempt their drivers have for cyclist and bike infrastructure. It’s not “their neighborhood”, it’s a public right of way.

    And what’s your point with the obstacle/obstruction distinction? Never mind, I don’t care what your answer is.

  17. Run shuttle buses, just like everybody else in the civilized world does for large events at locations with insufficient parking.

    I don’t believe they’re too stupid to figure that out. Just too arrogant to bother doing it right, instead of stomping on the rights of others.

  18. Sounds like an absolute ADA violation, too.

    People with disabilities who are victims of crimes are victimized again by the NYPD when they try to get help.

  19. I said exactly that the above scenario isn’t double parking. Please read the whole comment thread. You cannot fix double parking with design, just as you cannot fix every single piece of bike infrastructure with design. There’s an above photo which shows some sort of truck driving up the bike lane. Motorcyclists can always get into the bike lane and park. Design can’t fix everything, enforcement must be part of the mix, and it should be proportional to how obvious the violation is, and how dangerous the violation is.

  20. What’s the fix? Move to the suburbs where you have plenty of land to allow all of your friends to park all of your own lawn.

  21. So you are comparing a street festival in which street closures are requested by a committee and granted by the city to a group of people simply doing what they want because it is a holiday for them?

    Seems a bit silly doesn’t it? It would be one thing if the sect requested parts of Kent Ave be blocked for parking it is another to simply do it. Kind of like how they just take over public sidewalk for Sukkot on a yearly basis.

    Also, it isn’t their neighborhood it is a neighborhood in Brooklyn. They don’t own the entire area because they own some of the real estate.

    Finally, you forgot incredibly corrupt, abusive, and prone to buying off politicians in your description of the sect.

  22. You want a mention of sidewalk? Go walk around Broadway and Lorimer area toward Flushing where this religious sect has built their Sukkot forts just like they do every year. Some are so large as to impede foot traffic. Yet nothing is ever done!

  23. You can say that about any group in New York City. I think it’s just stupid to ignore their power of influence over the situation. They’re going to do what they want because the people who are fighting them don’t know the first thing about their culture. So instead of approaching the Hasidic community about some kind of shared effort to work around these vehicles parking in the bike lane nothing will happen and protesting this issue will make bicyclists look like assholes.

  24. While I won’t intentionally damage cars which are parked illegally, I’m not going to be overly careful avoiding them if doing so will place me in more danger. For example, there are instances of double-parked cars where I just don’t have room to clear them by much due to traffic conditions. In those cases their rear view mirrors are fair game as far as I’m concerned. I’m not overly concerned either if my right pedal happens to leave a long scratch. If these people valued their property they would make an effort to park so as to not block traffic.

    Same thing here. While cyclists shouldn’t ding or scratch these cars on purpose, if it happens because the cars are mostly blocking their way I’m not exactly going to shed any tears.

  25. His point is that the Hasidim don’t own South Williamsburg anymore than you own your neighborhood, regardless of the shady real estate practices they like to pull (See: issues with S. Williamsburg residents and Bed-Stuy community). Being politically connected and having the police in your pocket doesn’t make their behavior legal or correct – in fact it’s the watermark of corruption.

    And when this is their behavior towards cyclists, it’s difficult to give a shit about their parking needs on a holiday

    Group of People Harassing and Restraining a Cycli…: http://youtu.be/VQ19lJkU-Xg

  26. Naw, we just need a fleet of tow trucks which will drag these illegally parked cars away to the impound yard.

    Oh, wait, NYPD has one of those, they’re just shirking their duty.

  27. The ADA is likely to be the correct hammer to use against sidewalk-blockers (like certain NYPD precints, and like these people). Advantages:
    (1) Private cause of action in civil court; doesn’t matter what the DA thinks
    (2) Federal court; corruption in local courts is irrelevant
    (3) injunctions and fines both available

  28. Since they’re not supposed to be driving on the holidays anyway, the illegal parking is completely unjustifiable. NYPD involvement is official corruption and should result in hard time, 25-to-life.

  29. The NYPD is completely corrupt and most NYPD officers belong in prison for 25-to-life. I’m sure there are a few good ones, but yeah, in NYC, the police do not enforce the laws anymore.

  30. If you can prove NYPD involvement, I advise suing the NYPD for the ADA violation. You should be able to get several million dollars, very easily, and an injunction to force them to cut it out. If they disobey the injunction, more money each time they disobey it.

    I bet United Spinal would be interested in supporting such a case.

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