The People Sworn to Uphold the Law Are NYC’s Biggest Bus Lane Violators

NYPD's casual disregard for bus riders and cyclists comes through loud and clear every day.

Police vehicles parked in the Utica Avenue bus lane. Via TransitCenter
Police vehicles parked in the Utica Avenue bus lane. Via TransitCenter

Any effort to solve NYC’s transportation challenges has to involve dedicating a lot more street space to transit, biking, and walking. But across the five boroughs, the city’s attempts to prioritize space-efficient modes of travel are sabotaged… by people who work for the city. And police are the worst offenders.

Take Utica Avenue, for example, where the city and MTA launched Select Bus Service in 2016. The B46 runs through some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city. Each day, tens of thousands of riders rely on the Utica Avenue bus lanes, which should be clear of obstructions just like subway tracks.

On Friday, TransitCenter posted video of not one but seven NYPD vehicles parked in the northbound Utica Avenue bus lane between Bergen Street and Dean Street in Crown Heights:

NYC bus ridership is plummeting, with an alarming 6 percent drop in 2017. Instead of ensuring the city’s transit lanes help reverse the trend, NYPD is making the problem worse.

No justification for NYPD parking in a bus lane or bike lane seems too trivial. The same day TransitCenter released its video, Transportation Alternatives Paul Steely White posted a photo of an 84th Precinct squad car blocking the two-way bike path on Park Row outside City Hall during the evening rush hour. The officer inside was eating a sandwich.

Surely, you say, this pattern of behavior must concern higher-ups in the de Blasio administration, which  has spent resources on bus lanes and bike lanes and set policy goals to increase transit ridership and cycling. Maybe the mayor himself, when confronted with visual documentation of the problem, will issue directives to put a stop to this.

Except none other than Bill de Blasio has said it’s OK for motorists to block bike lanes, despite the fact that doing so is both illegal and dangerous. On Saturday, a driver in the mayor’s convoy was spotted in the middle of the 9th Street bike lane, during one of the mayor’s regular road trips to the Park Slope YMCA:

Illegal parking has probably come to feel like second nature to both on-duty police officers and the mayor. When they’re driving their personal cars, cops get a free pass on parking violations because they have city-issued placards. As a career politician, de Blasio has been a member of the placard class for at least the better part of two decades.

NYC’s bus lanes, bike lanes, and even sidewalks won’t function the way they should until the abuses encouraged by placard culture are no longer tolerated.

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