With bicyclist casualties due to vehicle collisions accumulating to an alarming number this year, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is has turned criticism toward the 108th Precinct claiming they have been letting dangerous parking practices slide.
Alleging that NYPD’s lackadaisical attitude toward enforcing placard abuse policies as well as parking practices that block sidewalks and bike lanes have conveyed that the “law does not apply,” Van Bramer called for a crackdown.
In letter to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, Van Bramer listed off 11 locations within the command where he claims residents are forced to walk in the street with their children because of vehicles parked on sidewalks.
“The 108th Precinct has become the epicenter of rampant illegally parked cars on the sidewalk and in the street, in addition to placard abuse. The precinct is overrun with illegally parked cars whose owners have no concern or respect for the law or resident of the community,” Van Bramer wrote. “Fifteen cyclists have died this year. Illegal parking makes our streets unsafe for everyone.”
The number of cyclists killed across the city has reached 15 this year.
Laura Shepard, who chairs of the Queens Volunteer Committee for Transportation Alternatives, said the 108th Precinct rarely takes action on reports of illegal parking in the command and that there is an active effort by bike advocates to document the issue on Twitter whenever it takes place. They also make 311 complaints.
“I’m glad to see Council member Van Bramer take a stand. Drivers jeopardize the safety of pedestrians and cyclists when they block sidewalks and bike lanes,” Shepard said. “The problem is constantly documented and reported, but the 108th Precinct is one of the worst offenders and rarely takes the reports seriously. We need a serious effort to put an end to this dangerous behavior.”
Van Bramer indicated 10-20 44th Rd. as a location where Ryder trucks are regularly parked on sidewalks and 30-30 Hunters Point Ave. as another location where Adirondack Direct employees use the walkway for vehicle storage.
UPS employees are also known to park their personal vehicles on the sidewalks around 49th Avenue and 27th Street, according to Van Bramer.
In recent months Mayor Bill de Blasio has charged Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan with the task of enforcing placard abuse and enlisted a small fleet of tow trucks to remove parked cars in bus lanes as park of citywide effort to decrease commute times.
And in February, Councilman Robert Holden and Speaker Corey Johnson introduced a legislative package that would take city employees to task for using parking placards to block bike lanes and park on sidewalks. Holden said there was also an issue of counterfeit placards being used for this purpose and could be putting public safety at risk.
The five bills within the package are currently laid over in committee, according to City Hall’s website.
On Wednesday, those advocating for street overhauls that place pedestrian and bicyclist safety as a priority staged a die-in in Washington Square Park where about a hundred people, including Van Bramer, played possum in a display of unity.
“It is heartbreaking that New Yorkers feel so unsafe walking and biking right now that pedestrians, cyclists and advocates feel they must stage a die-in in order for something to change. We must not stop fighting until our streets are safe for all. I hope you’ll fight with me,” Johnson said. “We need to break the car culture that is choking our streets and literally killing people.”
NYPD did not respond to QNS regarding the letter before press time.