Street Cheats: The Public Space Theft We Take for Granted

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Public space theft in NYC is so pervasive that sometimes it barely registers, even when it should.

A tipster sent this photo of a Department of Homeless Services Police van hogging the crosswalk at 14th Street and Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn. I write about placard culture for a living, and I have to admit that when I saw the pic above, my first thought was something along the lines of, “Yeah, and… ?”

This isn’t the worst example of parking malfeasance we’ve seen, but it does matter. Not only is the van in the way of the crosswalk, it’s also blocking sightlines at the intersection, making it harder for motorists and pedestrians to see each other.

It’s also emblematic of how we’ve let motor vehicles saturate the curb until they encroach on spaces where they’re not allowed. And most of the time we don’t give it a second thought.

In fact, crosswalk parking is so common that DOT crews often memorialize it in paint…

It may seem like a small thing, but crosswalk parking degrades the pedestrian environment, makes intersections more dangerous, and increases maintenance costs since striping crews can’t finish the job in one go. We shouldn’t accept that as an immutable fact of life.

 

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