Flower power! City uses planters to stop illegal parking on Jay Street

Fresh addition: A rider enjoys the new planters along the Jay Street bike lane.
Brooklyn Paper
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Trees a crowd!

Illegal parking along Jay Street has become so rampant that the city is now using big tree-filled planters to block drivers from stashing their rides in illicit locations — the only natural way to stop the Downtown street from going to pot, according to one regular commuter.

“I think the planters, the physical barriers, are the only things that are going to keep cars from parking,” said Prospect Heights cyclist Paul Vogel, who rides along the stretch to work each weekday.

The Department of Transportation put in six of the planters between the bike and bus lane in the Manhattan Bridge-bound channel from Willoughby Street to MetroTech last Friday, according to a spokeswoman.

The agency specifically installed the shrubbery to weed out motorists who leave their cars in the space — despite striped marking making it clear the spot is out-of-bounds — so coach drivers have room to turn into the bus bay outside the office complex, she said.

Other forbidden parts of the street have bendy plastic poles called “bollards” to warn drivers away, but they don’t physically stop them, while the sturdy botanical barriers are the arboreal deal, said Vogel.

“The planters are way better than those things the city put in — people drive all over them,” he said.

The city finally installed a long-awaited parking-protected bike lane along the street last summer after years of complaints from cyclists about the treacherous stretch, where riders previously had to share with vehicles.

Pedal-pushers applauded the improvements, but groused that police still weren’t stopping scofflaw drivers who kept parking in dedicated bike and bus spaces — often cops themselves parking outside the courts.

Now the shrubs seem to be doing what the authorities could or would not, according to bike boosters.

“The planters seem so far to be preventing people from parking in the bike lane,” said Luke Ohlson, who is the Brooklyn organizer for pro-bike group Transportation Alternatives. “It seems like a success.”

Still, the hedges have their downsides too, Vogel noted — people are prone to use them as trash cans, and someone has to maintain the trees, or they get pretty gnarly.

And it is only a matter of time before a driver does some unsolicited pruning, he predicts.

“People will crash into them, I guarantee you someone will drive into them,” he said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to clarify the intended placing of the planters.
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Reasonable discourse

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
March 28, 2017, 9:01 am
Local from Brooklyn says:
Thank you DOT for doing something to stop scofflaw motorists. They frequently block the bike lane, make illegal uturns, run red lights, speed, don't signal, and do other things that make conditions dangerous for people on bikes and on foot.
March 28, 2017, 9:13 am
Gary from Park Slope says:
Now how about addressing the placard abuse parking in the bike lane on Boerum Place near Fulton St.
March 28, 2017, 9:45 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
dogs on Jay Street now have more choices
March 28, 2017, 9:49 am
Wilma from Park Slope says:
This is illegal - what if I needed to make an Emergency park? Am I supposed to run over the flowers now?
March 28, 2017, 10:17 am
Chris from Sunset says:
Emergency Park (n.) def: When a public park is rapidly deployed to solve a civic crisis.

Seems fitting.
March 28, 2017, 10:52 am
Peter from Brooklyn says:
"Emergency Park"

When Wilma does not want to walk the extra 5 feet to the donut shop.
March 28, 2017, 10:56 am
Jason from Fort Greene says:
"Arboreal Deal"

March 28, 2017, 10:57 am
Josh from Park Slope says:
What is an emergency park? That sounds made up
March 28, 2017, 11:11 am
Daniel from Williamsburg says:
This is awesome! Wish they would deploy the same pro techniques everywhere!
March 28, 2017, 11:28 am
Nathan from Prospect-Lefferts Gardens says:
Wait, so the solution to cars parking in the bus lane is to instead put plants permanently in the bus lane? How exactly does this solve the problem of the bus lane being blocked?

Why is police enforcement never considered as a solution to this issue, seeing as it's literally their job? Oh yeah that's right, because NYC cops are 100% useless at enforcing traffic violations.
March 28, 2017, 11:33 am
Moocow from South Slope says:
You know what kept cars out of that lane? The mountain of snow that blocked the lane for days.
You know what kept cars from parking there after the mountain was removed? The 2 foot ridge of solid ice/snow that was left there behind the mountain clean up.

The only enforcement I have seen on Jay St are cops ticketing bikers who were acting on behalf of their own self preservation, and had broken traffic laws.
March 28, 2017, 12:01 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Today the police were ticketing illegally parked cars and trucks making deliveries on schermerhorn between Hoyt and Bond...
March 28, 2017, 12:16 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
The red-painted pavement is the bus lane.
March 28, 2017, 1:06 pm
Bembry from Crown Heights says:
A great idea. Now!! Can we do the same on Livingston street to get the $DOLLAR$ VANS away from the bus lane and especially the bus STOPS???
March 28, 2017, 1:13 pm
Guest from NYC says:
Isn't that red paint for a bus lane?

Why not put the planter in the buffer, or if too wide just install flex posts.
March 28, 2017, 11:08 pm
WhatNYC from QUEENS says:
What?! This is nuts we already don't have no wherrreeee to park ,,, I'm so tired of this , people come move here from out of town and we have to change our city for what ? Them . This is wrong. Everything was fine 5 yrs ago now we can't drive threw here , park here , walk here .f****** seats in the middle of 34st!? Come on this is out of hand . New Yorkers need to stand up I really can't stand this mayor now . He don't give AF just approves everything and anything .
March 28, 2017, 11:31 pm
Holly Courtwright says:
No one was thinking, now they'll just park in the middle of the street! But at least we have a great lane that's been made unusable for anyone. Just dump some potted plants in the middle of the street!
March 29, 2017, 6:49 am
NN from Boerum Hill says:
The city needs to remove jurisdiction over parking tickets from the NYPD and create a new, independent agency to handle them.

And DOT should install permanent, solid, unmovable bollards that will damage a car if it tries to run over them.
March 29, 2017, 4:30 pm
Adamlaw from Park Slope says:
Folks, that's not a bus lane but is supposed to be a buffer between the bike lane and the lane for cars. As for "emergency parks" I want one in my neighborhood.
March 31, 2017, 12:14 pm
Waldo McCourtney from Cobble Hill says:
Make fun all you want, but one day you'll need to Emergency Park, and you can't because of a plant buffer. If someone dies, you don't care, as long as no one parked in the lane that was randomly painted red and decided to be made useless.
March 31, 2017, 2:17 pm
Brian from Chinatown says:
Why can't you just emergency park in the car lane? Or pay for your own parking instead of expecting taxpayers to give you welfare parking?
April 3, 2017, 6:40 pm

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