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NYPD Sidewalk Parking Will Disrupt Fourth Avenue Protected Bike Lane

The Fourth Avenue bike lane won’t have physical protection outside the 72nd Precinct. Image: Google Maps

NYC streets belong to police squad cars and placard holders, and one of the biggest traffic safety projects in the city isn't going to change that.

In Brooklyn, the upcoming Fourth Avenue protected bike lane will have a one-block gap to accommodate NYPD "combat parking" outside the 72nd Precinct, according to an email NYC DOT sent to Bay Ridge resident John Tomac earlier this week [PDF].

The gap will affect the southbound side of Fourth Avenue between 29th and 30th streets, where squad cars and personal vehicles parked perpendicularly to the curb hog the sidewalk and jut out into what should be the right-of-way for bicycles once the redesign is implemented.

"Due to the need to maintain parking access for NYPD vehicles, it is not feasible for the planned bike lane on 4th Avenue to be protected from travel lanes by a physical, vertical barrier at this location," DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray told Tomac.

The problem extends beyond the precinct house block. The southbound sidewalk between 28th Street and 29th Street is also filled with officers' cars, and the northbound sidewalk between 51st Street and 52nd Street, outside an FDNY engine house, is overrun by illegally-parked personal vehicles.

Realizing this, Tomac contacted DOT and Council Member Carlos Menchaca to find out whether the city plans to work with police and firefighters to maintain a safe, continuous protected bike route.

The agency's answer: sorry, but nope. Instead of a protected bike lane, Bray said, southbound Fourth Avenue between 29th Street and 30th Street will get "markings like those along other protected bike lanes in the City at locations where they intersect driveways." The response did not address the block between 28th Street and 29th Street or the block outside the fire engine house.

Typical bike markings along a driveway look like this:

DOT's design for standard protected bike lanes that run along driveways, depicted here on East Hampton Boulevard in Queens. Image: DOT
How DOT marked a protected bike lane on East Hampton Boulevard in Queens where it intersects driveways. Image: DOT
DOT's design for standard protected bike lanes that run along driveways, depicted here on East Hampton Boulevard in Queens. Image: DOT

The city's inability to impose order on NYPD car storage will disrupt what is supposed to be a continuous, low-stress bikeway. People biking by the precinct will not only have to get uncomfortably close to car and truck traffic, they'll also have to keep an eye out for NYPD vehicles coming and going from what's essentially a block-long driveway.

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