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.

  • Adrian Horczak

    Police are supposed to put their lives at risk for our safety, but they make the streets more dangerous for their own convenience!

  • ddartley

    Blocking the bus lane doesn’t just screw over bus riders; it congests the whole street, into which the big ass bus then has to lumber–which it’s not supposed to have to.

    Also, de Blasio is scared of NYPD. Getting him to do something about this and about placard abuse will require lots of public pressure on him about it (may never happen), or pressure on NYPD and other abusing agencies, directly from sources other than the mayor.

  • JarekFA

    It’s got to be Cuomo. He’s got his Staties. He doesn’t need the NYPD. You already see NYS Police on the highways/bridges/tunnels in NYC.

  • ohhleary

    FWIW, I saw two Staties parked and blocking an entire sidewalk on Hamilton Avenue on Saturday.

  • JarekFA

    Damn, I bike on that sidewalk too.

  • JarekFA

    Damn. And I bike on the sidewalk when I take Hamilton Ave. It’s a 12 min ride from my house to Ikea and I’m not going to take a 20 block detour to the shitty 9th street bike lane. Still feels not particularly safe taking the sidewalk as the intersections are all traffic sewers too anyway (see pic, from my Ikea trip).

    It’s like — should I get a zipcar. Car2go. Lyft/Uber — to get 1.5 miles? Or be a scowflaw and ride on the sidewalk in industrial land. I love how the city goes on and on about how isolated Red Hook is. And ya, it is isolated because you have death moats boxing in most of Red Hook. A handful of citibike stations aren’t going to make Hamilton Ave less dangerous to cross.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    And one might think since he’s on his second and final term he would finally take a stand?

  • NS

    Now this seems like a good use of tow trucks.

  • neroden

    Yep. Maybe the county sherriffs (who I just discovered still exist) can issue warrants and get tow trucks to remove the illegally parked cop cars.

  • neroden

    County sherriffs can arrest NYPD.

    Kings County sherriffs just arrested a corrupt, violent police sergeant who parked on the sidewalk in front of their office, then fled the scene and committed a hit-and-run against a pedestrian.

  • neroden

    This is why for centuries the UK citizenry was very opposed to police. They suspected that they would be a violent, armed, occupation force. (This is why UK police are still not allowed to carry guns under normal circumstances.)

    A violent, armed occupation force is what the NYPD has become, and it needs to be shut down with extreme prejudice. Probably disarming them and taking away their cars would be a good start.

  • NYC Yellow cab


    Taxis, Commuter Vans, For-Hire and Certain Diplomatic and Consular Vehicles
    (a) Standing
    (b) Cruising prohibited
    (c) Pickup and discharge of passengers by taxis, commuter vans and for-hire
    (d) Pickup and discharge of passengers by certain diplomatic and consular

    Even with the above DOT Traffic Rules, NYC Taxi Cabs are ticketed for dropping/picking up passengers in a bus lane.

    NYC Taxi Cabs are Licensed by Taxi and limousine commission. And if a Taxi Cab Driver won’t drop/pick up in a bus lane TLC will fine the Poor Driver. Absolutely “DOUBLE STANDARD”.