NYPD officers and other city employees are parking their personal vehicles in a brand new bike lane in Lower Manhattan, angering local residents who say the city has turned a blind eye to the makeshift parking lot.
Since its installation earlier this month, major swaths of the new Centre Street bike lane, located steps from City Hall and NYPD headquarters, have been rendered unusable by parked cars. On Friday afternoon, most of those vehicles were bearing NYPD placards or police union-issued cards that allow officers to evade enforcement.
Asked on Friday about the conditions of the new bike lane, Mayor Bill de Blasio first raised the possibility that the vehicles were there as part of the city’s 9/11 anniversary preparations. He added that, absent a legitimate excuse, he would order the vehicles to move.
“I’ll get the details, but I obviously want bike lanes clear and police vehicles out of bike lanes unless there’s a really specific and appropriate reason,” he said.
The bike path, which has both protected and unprotected sections, is intended to serve as a critical passage for cyclists entering Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge. That bridge is slated to get its first-ever bike lane later this month. The new crossing has been touted by Mayor Bill de Blasio as a key Vision Zero achievement that will allow a “safer and more seamless route along the bridge for cyclists.”
But safe streets advocates fear that blocked bike lanes will pose hazards to the growing number of cyclists traveling across the new crossing.
“The paint is barely dry before our own city employees have claimed it for parking spaces,” said Michael Francoeur, the co-chair of Manhattan Community Board 1 Transportation Committee, which has pushed for the new bike lanes. “When the lane opens on the bridge, it’s going to be funneling cyclists, many of them tourists biking in the city for the first time, into a dangerous situation.”
“We can’t have safe streets when basic traffic laws aren’t being enforced, especially when those tasked with enforcing them are among the most rampant violators,” Francoeur added.
The Department of Transportation will meet with the Community Board 1 on Tuesday to discuss the new bike lanes, along with a proposal to extend the lanes north of Foley Square.
Inquiries to the NYPD and the Department of Transportation were not returned.