NYPD Keeps on Junking Up Midtown Streets With Fences and Barricades

The barriers are getting in the way of people walking and biking on some of the city's busiest streets.

What is the point? Photo: Nicole Gelinas
What is the point? Photo: Nicole Gelinas

While peer cities like London carve out more car-free space on their busiest streets for walking, NYPD is busy dropping metal fencing and concrete barriers all over Midtown, obstructing paths for pedestrians and cyclists.

The measures on some of Manhattan’s most crowded blocks look like typical police security theater in response to the October vehicle ramming attack on the Hudson River Greenway, though NYPD has not confirmed that’s the case.

At crosswalks and bike lanes, the fences and barriers take up scarce public space, hem people in, funnel them into uncomfortable pinch points, and sometimes block their path forward.

Streetsblog contacted NYPD on Friday and again this morning asking why the barriers have been installed, and for a list of locations where they’ll be placed. We have yet to receive a response.

At 50th Street across Sixth Avenue, for example, a concrete Jersey barrier now covers more than half the width of the crosswalk at the curb, getting in the way of people crossing the street. The Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas shared a scene from this morning:

On Fifth Avenue at 49th Street, seen at the top of this post, Gelinas photographed another barrier obstructing a crosswalk, surrounded by a jumble of metal fencing. Across the street, more fencing jutted out into the crosswalk, serving no apparent purpose:

NYPD put down similar measures in Times Square after a ramming attack there in the spring, using concrete barriers and metal fencing as a protective buffer by a pedestrian zone on Seventh Avenue. The barriers occupied a section of raised bike lane through Times Square.

Six months later, the bike lane is a mess. NYPD’s security measures have for all intents and purposes obliterated a bike connection that was in the works for nearly a decade.

NYPD security measures have successfully obliterated Times Square's year-old raised bike lane. Photo: Chana Widawski
NYPD security measures have obliterated the year-old raised bike lane on Seventh Avenue through Times Square. Photo: Chana Widawski
  • MatthewEH

    I hate to be truthering what’s going on with the 4-block bike lane strip in Times Square, but in point of fact, for the last 6-8 weeks it’s been 75% fine. The block between 46th & 45th Street is blocked with jersey barriers, that hasn’t changed. And not great. During morning commute hours I’ve had fine success just taking the lane that block.

    But 45th-42nd Street are fine, status quo. (Well, the treatment as the lane hits 42nd Street is not great. Cars in the leftmost lane there are generally turning left, many cyclists — usually me included — are continuing straight. If tenable, I’ll often take the lane from 43rd to 42nd to get around that mess. It’s not an NYPD-induced mess though. It’s baked into the infrastructure.)

  • Brian Howald

    With all these barriers everywhere, what’s to stop someone from renting some and randomly closing Manhattan Avenues to traffic?

  • c2check

    No need to rent, just move around the ones that aren’t tied down!

    That’s what I like to do with stray cones I find lying around—move them to some intersection to help slow turns 🙂

  • Brian Howald

    I move cones, too, though barriers are a bit harder to move without attracting attention.

  • c2check

    Eh, who cares—New Yorkers don’t have time to worry about what some rando on the street is doing 😉

  • Guest

    Is this also happening in Park Slope? I’d guess not. It really speaks to the mayor’s lack of concern for what happens in the city’s center. Even though most of us don’t live there, many of us spend a lot of time there. As a Queens resident, I loathe going to Midtown, where I must spend two days a week, because it is such a chaos of traffic, fumes, and barriers. It is much worse than it was 10 years ago. And the mayor doesn’t care about how I feel about it as long as I can theoretically drive myself there with the car I don’t own.

  • CroatianSalt

    No politician ever wastes a crisis. Terror attacks give cover to politicians so they can implement what they really want to do. The high value folks want to be driven – anyone who works for a Wall Street IB after 7 pm gets a car service home, paid for by the man. Buses and subways are for the little people.

  • ohhleary

    Interesting. I only ride through there in the evening and the block between 44th and 45th is always blocked by at least two NYPD vehicles and an NYPD tent. Plus, the newly added barriers in front of the Palace Theater between 46th and 47th make it all but impossible to pass stopped traffic in the sharrowed lane. Maybe not the case in the morning, but it’s an absolute disaster every evening.

  • qrt145

    The NYPD vehicles and tent are also there in the morning. In the last several months I’ve only seen that block clear once. Maybe MatthewEH is an early bird and gets there before the NYPD and before me!

  • MatthewEH

    Not that early. 8:35ish.

  • Ken Dodd

    I see this NYPD fencing everywhere now. They had it blocking off half of the bike path going past Madison Sq Park recently. No point to it whatsoever. What do they think it’s going to prevent? It’s certainly not going to stop a large truck. The NYPD cannot help but betray its fundamental and rampant disrespect for cyclists and pedestrians. I look at these guys and I see such stupidity in their eyes. You almost have to feel sorry for them.

  • Ken Dodd

    I don’t find it fine at all. I’m forced to ride in the most horrendous traffic. The small part of the path that the NYPD is blocking is only the half of it. Once I get past the cops, I don’t feel safe riding up that ramped curb onto the bike path whilst I’m in such heavy traffic, so I have to wait until after the next intersection to rejoin the path. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the NYPD traffic bozos have taken to parking on the bike path right by 42nd at various times of the day. Here they were on Sunday, and they were there for at least an hour. I’ve seen them here on many occasions. On this occasion I politely asked them if they wouldn’t mind moving because of the risk they’re posing to cyclists, and of course they just blanked me, every single one of them.

  • MatthewEH

    Oh, I’m not saying that there aren’t things that NYPD and others do to make things worse. (I don’t typically encounter them before 9 AM on a weekday, but that may not be representative.) Just limiting my discussion to permanent or quasi-permanent barriers.

  • MatthewEH

    Um, #notallcops? I get what you’re saying, though.

  • qrt145

    That’s the crack of dawn by my standards! 🙂 Maybe the NYPD shows up at 9 am?

  • Toddster

    So sick of the #notallcops tag. You hear the “one bad apple” line that gets tossed around anytime a cop does something wrong. People forget the rest of the saying: “one bad apple spoils the bunch.” Standing by while others abuse their power, whether because they are ill informed or ill willed makes you just as complicit and just as much a part of the problem.

  • Ken Dodd

    RIght, and it’s not just one bad apple – there is an institutional culture of bone headedness, arrogance, incompetence, laziness, dishonesty and corruption in the NYPD. So far we’ve yet to see any kind of movement among the “good apples” to correct it.

  • MatthewEH

    How about let’s not declare that all cops are stupid pigs, mmmkay?

    We don’t like it if we’re treated in a presumptive and contemptuous way by a cop ’cause we have the temerity to get around the city using something other than an NYPD cruiser. So why on earth are you leaving equal and opposite comments making presumptive and contemptuous judgments about every cop we might meet? It’s an extremely bad look.

  • There are bad cops and there are enablers. That’s it. It is impossible to survive in the NYPD in any other role.

    No change of this toxic culture is ever going to occur. The only fix for this is the disbandment of the agency and the creation from the ground-up of a new one. Until we are willing to do that, we have to understand that our police force is a horde of thugs and terrorists.