How Many Obstacles Does It Take to Stop NYPD Sidewalk Parking?

This is the generous new sidewalk extension at the five-way intersection of Washington Avenue, Park Place, and Grand Avenue in Brooklyn. Here you can see bell bollards protecting the added pedestrian space between Washington, on the left, and Grand on the right.

I live around the corner, and I can’t say enough about how much this addition has improved the walking experience. Before DOT put this in as part of a broader safety project, the area between Grand and Washington felt like a grey zone were pedestrians weren’t supposed to tread. Walking on the east side of Washington usually entailed weaving between a combination of parked police vehicles and metal barricades:

Image: Google Street View

The cops who operate out of the building at the corner of Grand and Park have staked claim to the sidewalks here, and they seem to consider any pedestrian space within a 200-foot radius of their workplace to be fair game for parking. Here are their vehicles hogging the sidewalk on Park:

At first, when the city poured concrete earlier this year, the cops parked all over the new sidewalk extension too. But that has subsided over the past several weeks as more obstacles have popped up. Many more obstacles. First there were the bell bollards, a standard part of DOT’s toolkit for pedestrian safety projects. Then came several skinnier, red bollards. Now there are huge granite slabs sitting on the sidewalk.

I wish I had taken pictures the whole time to document the sequence, but here’s where things stand right now. Including the traffic signal pole, there are now 13 obstacles in the way of police who want to park on this sidewalk extension:

The total could rise to 15 if the new tree pits get planted as one would expect. This is apparently what it takes to keep the cops from appropriating space from people on foot in order to store their personal vehicles.

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