Placard Abusers Gravitate to Upgraded Inwood Crosswalk as Soon as the Stripes Are Dry

A city-owned vehicle with a Human Resources Administration placard, blocking sight lines at a crosswalk in Inwood. Photos: Brad Aaron
A city-owned vehicle with a Human Resources Administration placard, blocking sight lines at a crosswalk in Inwood. Photos: Brad Aaron

Over the summer DOT upgraded an unmarked crosswalk on Seaman Avenue in Inwood, alerting drivers to the presence of people crossing at W. 214th Street. It didn’t take long for placard abusers to lay claim to it.

To improve visibility at the crosswalk, DOT converted a curbside parking spot to a no standing zone on the east side of Seaman. Soon after, city employees with placards began parking in the no standing zone, obstructing what is supposed to be a car-free space that allows motorists and people entering the crosswalk to better see each other.

One offender is the driver of this city-owned Prius, which bears a placard issued by the Human Resources Administration. This car is frequently parked in the daylighting zone overnight. It was there for much if not all of last weekend, and it was hindering visibility at the crosswalk as of 7:30 this morning.


The problem of placard abuse goes beyond this HRA staffer. The whole placard system amounts to an elaborate way to hand out permission slips for government workers to illegally take over bus stops, delivery zones, and other parking-restricted areas. This is just one example of how placards directly undermine DOT’s street safety projects, which often rely on low-cost methods, like striping, that are easily circumvented by placard holders.

While law enforcement will soon be bringing a case against fake placard issuers, the de Blasio administration has let the larger problem of official placard abuse get worse, reissuing tens of thousands of placards that the Bloomberg administration had discontinued.

The mayor promised a crackdown on abuse after the press raised a stink over the massive increase in placards, but there are simply too many in circulation and too few consequences for placard holders who break the rules. It’s still business as usual five months after de Blasio announced the crackdown.


We asked the Human Resources Administration who drives this vehicle, and what the agency plans to do in response to this staffer’s bad behavior. We also asked DOT if it might take measures to protect the no standing zone at Seaman and 214th Street. We’ll update this post if we get answers.

Update 10/5/17: The Human Resources Administration sent us this statement: “We expect HRA employees that have city cars assigned to them to adhere to all parking rules and regulations. We have investigated the matter and instructed the employee to park the vehicle in designated parking areas.” DOT has not answered our queries about design improvements to prevent people from parking in the crosswalk daylighting zone.

  • Put a bike corral in it.

  • vnm


  • AMH


  • gneiss

    This is what I saw all over central Paris. Any place where they didn’t want cars to park due to space or visibility concerns, they put in bike parking.

  • Vooch

    humor re bollards

  • Urbanely

    With so many of these in circulation, you would think that the traffic cops would be writing tickets en masse and just printing money. (I think) the fines are higher than for people who forget to feed the meter, and just about every block has some violators. I don’t get it. Meanwhile someone with a placard parked in a no standing area on a narrow street near me. I reported it to 311 and they closed the ticket and claimed they didn’t see anything.

  • com63

    Agreed. I think most bollards in Europe are actually there to prevent people from driving or parking on the sidewalk. The fact that they offer protection to pedestrians from errant drivers and terrorists is just a bonus.

  • com63

    The city claimed they hired 100 traffic agents just to do enforcement of this. Someone from Streetsblog or the Post should go undercover and get hired as a TEA.
    They should go around and just give tickets to placard abusers and then document the reaction. I’m sure there would be retaliation by their supervisor because of complaints from the abusers.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    De Blasio hands these out to get votes. How many of the recipients live in NYC and how many will vote for him? We know the police won’t anyway.

  • Fool

    These are the same voting constituents who do not want tolled bridges.

  • Larry Littlefield

    One thing I’ve noticed is a HUGE increase in the number of police officers directing traffic to get motor vehicles through, all over the city. I pass, it seems, five each way. There used to be few if any.

    I guess with crime down and 1,000 more cops on the payroll, they have to do something with them. Is this the additional “Vision Zero” cops?

  • Joe R.

    I’d like to ask de Blasio, or really any other politician, exactly what public benefit do parking placards provide? Usually when a government subsidizes something, there should be some public benefit. I’m just not seeing one here. All the benefit accrues solely to the vehicle owner. All the downsides accrue to everyone else.

    The best solution is to just do away with parking placards altogether, or at best limit them only to official vehicles. Maybe some city workers sometimes need to park official vehicles in illegal places occasionally to do their job. I can’t think of any reason why we should grant special parking privileges for their personal vehicles. Let them play the parking lottery like anyone else who drives.

  • Vooch

    tax the benefit as per IRS rules and you‘d see placard use drop

  • Jason
  • If you flipped that bike share station around and pulled the docks out from the curb, you’d solve this problem instantly. Or you could put in O racks and bolt them to the street.