Long-Awaited 4th Avenue Bike Lane Is Already A Cop Parking Lot
This past summer, in the midst of the highest rate of cyclist deaths in the Vision Zero era, the city announced they were accelerating the installation of a two-way protected bike lane on Brooklyn‘s 4th Avenue. With the bulk of that infrastructure now in place between 61st and 1st Street, the safe streets remedy seems to be serving another purpose entirely: cop parking lot.
The below video, captured by Bike South Brooklyn co-founder John Tomac, offers an instructive look at just how thoroughly the NYPD has occupied the lane. Behold, Mayor de Blasio: Your trusty bike lane enforcers.
According to Tomac, the stretch of bike lane and sidewalk between 28th and 30th Street is “constantly” filled by both NYPD squad cars and personal vehicles bearing police placards. A similar problem afflicts the intersection near 51st Street, where firefighters with Ladder 141 have also claimed the lane for themselves.
“Everyone who rides a bike around this city knows that any time you’re around a police station, a firehouse, basically any government building, you’re dealing with cars on the sidewalk and in bike lanes,” said Tomac, a Bay Ridge resident. “It’s a disaster to get around.”
During a press conference earlier this year meant to address placard abuse, the mayor seemed to acknowledge the problem, and suggested that the city could come up with a better system for providing parking to city employees.
“What we can say with assurance is there are some police precincts, some fire houses where there is ample parking and there are a lot where there is not, and that’s crazy,” he told reporters. “We have to come up with a system that actually accommodates these employees, and again, if it takes leasing a parking lot or leasing spaces in a garage or whatever the heck it is, we’re going to find a way.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office did not respond to questions about whether any progress had been made in that regard, or if the mayor would direct public employees to stop parking in the bike lane. Inquiries to the NYPD and the DOT were also not returned.
The latter agency was warned about the likelihood of this exact scenario by Tomac in 2018, after plans for the protected bike lane were first announced. He received a response from DOT Brooklyn Commissioner Keith Bray, who noted that the need to “maintain parking access for NYPD vehicles” would create a gap in protection between 29th Street and 30th Street.
“You have this big transformative bike lane on 4th Avenue, and it’s pretty obvious this is going to be a problem,” said Tomac. “You’re going to get shoved out of a lane and forced to mix with traffic going 40-miles-per-hour on a wide artillery road.”
In response to numerous complaints from safe streets advocates this week, Councilman Carlos Menchaca said he’d reached out to the 72nd precinct about the problem on Tuesday. When Tomac returned to the block afterward, many of the cops’ personal vehicles, at least, had been moved. In their place, a new construction site ate up much of the bike lane.