‘It’s a mess’ Downtown bike lane constantly blocked by illegally parked cop cars

Illegally parked cars force moving road users into the oncoming traffic lane.
Photo by Joe Hiti

Their motto is courtesy, professionalism, respect — except when it comes to bike lanes!

Police officers and city bureaucrats are illegally parking their cars in a Downtown Brooklyn bike lane at all hours of the day, leaving one out-of-towner to question why have a bike lane in the first place.

“You can tell bike lanes are not really respected,” said Canadian Dan Pavlich.

The Schermerhorn Street bike lane between Nevins and Smith streets is flanked by numerous municipal buildings, where the offices of the Police Department’s District 30 Transit Bureau, the Human Resources Administration, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority can be found.

A construction site lined with illegally parked cars blocks off the entire west-bound side of the road near Hoyt Street.
Photo by Joe Hiti

And while workers there enjoy their own designated parking spots, unmarked vehicles featuring police placards and other law-enforcement paraphernalia on the dashboard routinely park in the bike lanes and sometimes in the middle of the road, ensnaring traffic and creating a hazard for cyclists and pedestrians, according to one frustrated cyclist

“It’s chaos and gridlock and impossible to bike through safely, notwithstanding the fact there are bike lanes there,” said Blythe Austin, who volunteers with the safe streets advocacy groups Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets. “It’s also very dangerous to cross as a pedestrian there.”

Two inspections by Brooklyn Paper’s Bike Lane Action News Bureau on Sept. 25 and Sept. 30 discovered two dozen vehicles blocking the bike lane, along with a handful of double-parked cars on the street.

About a third of those had police placards in their windshields, while others made do with Police Department-issued vests, jackets, and one camouflage-patterned notebook with an American flag and an NYPD shoulder patch on top of it.

Or this U.S. Army hat along with a Lieutenants Benevolent Association business card.
Photo by Joe Hiti

One passing cyclist said “It’s terrible,” while another said the painted lanes have essentially lost their intended function.

“It’s not a bike lane, it’s a parking lane,” said the rider, who declined to give his name.

And it’s not just drivers blocking the bike lane. A construction site had setup Porta Potties on and placed traffic barriers around the bike lane, despite Council enacting a law last June allowing the Department of Transportation to revoke a builder’s permit to use part of the street for construction if they don’t provide an adequate detour for cyclists.

Austin noted that she saw a traffic agent ticketing cars over the weekend, but said she’s skeptical any of summonses were issued to police or bureaucrats.

Downtown cyclist and safe streets advocate Blythe Austin said the bike lane on Schermerhorn Street — including a Citi Bike dock — is routinely blocked by illegally-parked cars.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

“City officials do not want to police each other,” she said.

A transit cop leaving the Schermerhorn Street station in plain clothes blamed deliveries to nearby supermarkets and other government agencies for the parking problems.

“A lot of space is used up by food deliveries at the supermarket and people dropping off at the HRA office,” said the cop, who didn’t provide his name.

One officer blamed the mess on the construction, while another Boy in Blue simply refused to comment.

In lieu of parking placards, motorists use creative markers that they’re Police Department employees, including this patch-flag-camouflage-notebook combination.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

“I can’t comment on that,” he said.

Requests for comment to the Department of Transportation’s and the Police Department’s press offices went unanswered.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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