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Eyes on the Street

Motorist With NYC Disability Placard Blocks Curb Ramp With Car — Legally

11:55 AM EDT on October 30, 2014

NYC drivers with disability permits can park just about anywhere, even in the way of others with disabilities. Photos: Brad Aaron
NYC drivers with disability permits can park just about anywhere, even if they create obstructions for others with disabilities. Photos: Brad Aaron
NYC drivers with disability permits can park just about anywhere, even in the way of others with disabilities. Photos: Brad Aaron

I've taken up the early morning walk habit, and my route takes me through the intersection of Seaman Avenue and W. 214th Street, in Inwood. It's a T intersection with an unmarked crosswalk and curb cuts.

I wrote a few months back about how DOT basically did away with a lot of unmarked crosswalks by allowing motorists to park in them. This isn't one of those. But despite clear signage prohibiting drivers from parking there, for the past three mornings the curb cut on the east side of Seaman has been partially or completely blocked by vehicles.

On Tuesday and Wednesday it was an Acura with a bogus-looking attempt at an NYPD placard and, for good measure, a reflective vest with "NYPD" printed on it, left on the dashboard.

Today it was a different car. Behind the windshield was a laminated card with the "NYC" logo and a wheelchair symbol -- an apparently legitimate city parking permit for people with disabilities. Ironically, this driver had completely obstructed the sidewalk ramp, prohibiting anyone using a wheelchair, stroller, or grocery cart from crossing or accessing the sidewalk from the street, and impeding visibility for all pedestrians and motorists.

The thing is, assuming the permit is legit, this is legal. From the DOT web site:

The City permit allows the driver to park at most curbsides on city streets including in all “No Parking” zones (except those marked as taxi stands); in “No Parking”, “No Standing” or “Authorized Vehicles Only” spaces authorized for doctors, press, diplomats and government agencies; at metered parking without paying; in “No Standing, Trucks Loading and Unloading” or “Truck Loading Only” zones except for specified restricted hours.

If you're a New York City motorist and can prove you have a disability, it seems you can by law park in such a way that make streets less accessible for people with disabilities who don't drive.

That each of these cars was parked on a residential street at a little after 6:00 a.m. suggests they were left there overnight, and it's possible the Acura was there for two days. I've seen other cars parked illegally in the early morning as well -- an SUV with a State Senate license plate is a regular offender -- so it's not as if these drivers have anything to fear, regardless of where they stow their cars or what they leave on the dashboard.

Whatever works.
Whatever works.
Whatever works.

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