NYPD Cop to Cyclist: I Didn’t Ticket That Truck in the Bike Lane Because My Supervisor Told Me Not To

Police officials decline to comment on officer who was caught on camera admitting that he was told to look the other way.

This is the illegally-parked truck that started a long conversation between a cyclist and a cop that revealed a lot about how police officers think about cyclists. Photo: Chesney Parks.
This is the illegally-parked truck that started a long conversation between a cyclist and a cop that revealed a lot about how police officers think about cyclists. Photo: Chesney Parks.

An officer from the NYPD’s Seventh Precinct said he did not slap a ticket on a truck parked in a bike lane because his supervisor told him to give such scofflaws “a little time” — a rare admission that confirms many cyclists’ worst fears.

Last Monday, a cyclist who goes by the name Chesney Parks on Twitter approached Officer Adam Blum to inquire why the cop chose to “drive by and ignore” rather than ticket the driver of the moving van parked in the bike lane on Clinton Street, between Stanton and Rivington streets on the Lower East Side.

“Because you’re allowed…” Blum started before Parks cut him off.

“No, you’re not,” he said, adding that he seen the van blocking the bike lane — and endangering cyclists and drivers — for an hour.

That’s when Blum said he was only following orders.

When my supervisor tells me something, I have to abide,” Blum said in the exchange, which was captured on camera and will likely be must-see TV for all cyclists who distrust the NYPD’s sincerity about enforcing basic safety rules. “The supervisor explained it to me like this: with commercial vehicles double parking … according to the laws as I’ve been told, they have a legitimate window of five minutes before I am allowed to do anything.

“He told me to give them a little time,” Blum added of his unidentified supervisor.

The law, in fact, states that bike lane violators do not get a grace period. The city Department of Transportation’s “bike lane parking” fact sheet says clearly that motorists are not permitted to obstruct a bike lane for any amount of time. Also, section 4-08(e) of the Rules of the City of New York defines “general no stopping zones” where “stopping, standing and parking (are) prohibited.”

“No person shall stop, stand, or park a vehicle in any of the following places,” the section reads. One of the places is “bicycle lanes.”

Scores of cyclists have been injured after being forced into traffic by taxis or trucks (or cops!) parked even for seconds in bike lanes — in fact, two days before Parks filmed his video with Officer Blum, Australian tourist Madison Lyden was killed by a garbage truck driver after she was forced out into traffic on Central Park West because a taxi driver blocked the bike lane. There are dozens of Twitter accounts devoted to exposing scofflaws, including @USPSInBikeLanes, @carsnbikelanes, @fedexinbikelanes, and, of course, @copsinbikelanes. (Full disclosure: StreetsblogNYC is also working on its own investigation of double-parking by trucks making deliveries and is still accepting photos via email or with the Twitter hashtag #loadinglosers.)

The exchange between Parks and Officer Blum, who won a precinct community council award in 2016, is in no way definitive evidence that every cop gives a break to every bike lane scofflaw — but it does confirm increasing anecdotal evidence that police officers don’t care much about truck drivers, cabbies, city officials with cars (or fellow cops) that endanger cyclists.

Indeed, the NYPD declined to comment for this story when asked to explain why Blum’s supervisor told him not to properly enforce the law. Streetsblog also asked if it is city policy to give bike lane blockers a five-minute grace period. Again, no response.

Parks said he appreciated that Blum took the time to talk to him, but added that the NYPD is “utterly tone deaf.”

“In the days after Madison Lyden was killed, it was business as usual for cops and bike lanes,” he told Streetsblog. “There’s just no response from them whatsoever. No crackdown on bike lane violators. No top-down order to stop parking NYPD vehicles in bike lanes. In everything they do and say, our police department communicates to cyclists that they’re on their own. Their lack of enforcement endangers every single road user and pedestrian in the city and it has to stop.”

Perhaps Blum was merely following the example of Mayor de Blasio himself, who famously said on a radio show earlier this year, “If someone is blocking, for example, a bike lane for 30 seconds while they take out their groceries or they let their kid off, I don’t think they should get a ticket for that.”

The conversation between Blum and Parks lasted far more than five minutes, but Parks said he returned to the moving van 20 minutes later and it had not been slapped with a ticket, evidence that Blum did not make good on his promise to “gladly” ticket it after the requisite observation period.

 

  • Larry Littlefield

    If not sure police officers are out there looking to give lots of tickets, but supervisors tell them not to.
    It’s more that police officers don’t want to give tickets, and only do so when supervisors demand that they do so.

  • madbandit

    The NYPD is hopelessly corrupt.

  • Not being sensationalist when I say that NYPD are among the people I fear the most in 2018. I am a law-abiding, natural-born US citizen who has never been arrested or charged with a crime by the way.

  • KeNYC2030

    The NYPD has demonstrated repeatedly that it has not the slightest interest in meaningfully enforcing traffic laws. The likely reason is that it doesn’t view this as part of its job and because officers identify with drivers. Imagine if the police ignored breaking and entering because so many cops themselves came from a culture where breaking and entering was acceptable. This is essentially what’s happening.

  • 8FH

    Can we bring a class action lawsuit against the city and the NYPD for systematically endangering cyclists? We would certainly have standing.

  • djx

    I want to quibble with the term “parked” in the headline. The article makes the distinction, but it’s worth remembering that there are different levels of a car/truck being stopped.
    Parked is when the car is stopped and the engine is off
    Standing is when the car is stopped with the engine running and someone is inside
    Loading is when the car is stopped and people/things are actively being removed or loaded into the car.

  • BrandonWC

    Almost but not precisely. The three degrees are parking, standing, and stopping. Whether the engine is on or someone is behind the wheel have nothing to do with it. Under NYC Traffic rules:

    Parking. “Parking” shall mean the standing of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading property or passengers.Standing. The term “standing” shall mean the stopping of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in receiving or discharging passengers. Stopping. The term “stopping” shall mean any halting, even momentarily of a vehicle, whether occupied or not.

    So the truck in the photo is stopping and standing (and stopping is prohibited in all bike lanes).

  • bggb

    Kudos to this officer for unintentionally admitting what we all know to be true.

    I had a friend who worked in the bike/ped division of DOT for years. Years ago he told me time again that NYPD will only pay attention to whichever traffic law that they are instructed to enforce on a given day (usually only one infraction at a time – don’t want to overwhelm the officers by having to think too much).

    If they’ve been told to ticket cyclists at a three way stop, they’ll ignore speeding cars and all manner of more dangerous behavior.

  • Uchenna Kema

    ITC most people here forget that thanks to well minded people in the 1950s and 1960s all the loading docks were removed, so now its impossible to load on every non Avenue so whoops. The cyclicst should dismount and walk around the truck instead of going into the unsafe street

  • carl jacobs

    A wise man (he used to be my boss) once told me that the best way to get rid of a bad policy is to follow it exactly. Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. Delivery trucks are not going to snarl traffic for the sake of keeping bike lanes clear. If you try to force a solution like that, you will quickly learn the priority of transportation modes.

    And if you really want to protect cyclists then you need to recognize that the dynamic footprint of a bicycle is inherently incompatible with the dynamic footprint of a motorized vehicle. You need separate traffic flows, and by “separate” I do not mean bike lanes.

  • William Lawson

    Or alternatively, commercial operators should accept the fact that they’re not necessarily going to be able to pull right up to the front door of every residential address in the city. I worked in removals for a while many years ago – we’d regularly have to park up the street, down the street, on the next block etc, in situations where it was just not viable to park.

  • Uchenna Kema

    The issue is still, you end up with not enough parking period and as no store has stock, and its illegal to deliver overnight/stores won’t open, you are forced to play Rush Hour parking.

  • William Lawson

    Which is why we need congestion pricing in Manhattan. And we need metered parking everywhere. There really is no reason why car owners should receive free storage space for their giant hunks of steel simply by virtue of the fact that they bought one. Half of our roads are clogged by assholes who only ever use their cars once in a while.

  • Uchenna Kema

    No one has free parking in downtown manhattan, even on the numbered side streets its only free at night… when no one cares, at daytime alternate side and 3 hour parking limits people

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    Except, we cannot advocate for truck deliveries at night in mixed use districts. The noise they make is phenomenal and keeps residents up at night… also, the trucks speed at night.p, which us quite dangerous.

    Otherwise…yes, congestion pricing is a must.

  • AnoNYC

    A significant portion of NYC’ geography is mixed use, and trucks are already running on major streets at all hours of the day.

    Noise is not a good reason to not advocate for off peak deliveries.

  • If NYPD refuses to enforce the bike lane, I have a three word warning: Spike Bike lives! Road flares are wonderful for identifying road hazards like trucks parked in the bike lane.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Is an NYPD Bike Crackdown Underway?

|
Even before the NYPD identified a hooded cyclist as the this morning’s likely Times Square bomber, two reports of bike commuters being ticketed and harassed by the police have already hit the Streetsblog inbox. Perhaps it’s just that the weather’s getting nicer and more people happen to be out on bikes but at least one […]

NYPD Emerges as New Focus for NYC’s Livable Streets Movement

|
Arrest Her! T.A. membership coordinator Abby King tears up the streets on a "sport utility bicycle." With their rampant illegal parking, refusal to enforce basic traffic laws and unwillingness to treat pedestrian injuries and fatalities with any level of seriousness, the Police Department is establishing itself as the New York City government agency most in […]