‘Honest Mistake’? Brooklyn DA Detective Offers Poor Excuse for the Kind of Illegal Parking that Kills Cyclists
Of all the people to park in a bike lane!
A detective at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office used his Jeep to block the Jay Street bike lane this week — the latest city employee to ignore the danger and the illegality of such placard abuse.
In this Nov. 16 case, the detective didn’t even have a valid placard, choosing instead to leave a hand-written note (presumably meant for cops or tow companies, but not cyclists, to call him to move the vehicle) on the four-wheeler, equipped with a dangerous bull bar, that he left in the middle of the green paint.
“Do you want to endanger the lives of cyclists by parking in the bike lane in front of @BrooklynDA’s courthouse? Be sure to let @NYPDTransport know that you work for Eric Gonzalez to avoid getting a ticket,” the watchdog NYC Bike Lanes reported wrote on Twitter.
Do you want to endanger the lives of cyclists by parking in the bike lane in front of @BrooklynDA's courthouse?
— NYC Bike Lanes (@NYCBikeLanes) November 18, 2020
Reached by phone, the driver — who declined to provide his name — told Streetsblog on Friday that he didn’t mean to park in the bike lane, but he didn’t realize he had done so.
“Had I had known that, obviously, I wouldn’t have parked there,” he said. “It was an honest mistake.”
That’s the kind of honest mistake one would think would not be made by someone in that particular district attorney’s office, given that Brooklyn prosecutor Sarah Pitts was killed on Sept. 7 while biking home along the Wythe Avenue bike lane that’s almost always blocked by private school buses and cars servicing religious schools in the area. It is not believed that Pitts was killed because of a blocked bike lane, but illegally parked vehicles have caused the deaths of other cyclists, including Madison Lyden, who in 2018 was fatally run over by the operator of a garbage truck when she was forced to swerve out of the Central Park West bike path after her route was blocked by a taxi driver.
When contacted by Stretsblog, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s office first sought some context about the illegally parked Jeep, such as if the assault car had been parked only for a few minutes, or for hours, and if the slew of other illegally parked cars along Jay Street belonged to other agencies, too, or just the DA’s. Eventually, the spokesman got around to rightly criticizing the act.
“The car in question was not an office vehicle, nor did it have an official placard,” said spokesman Oren Yaniv. “It should have been ticketed and towed like anyone else who parks illegally in a bike lane.”
Illegal parking has been pervasive for years on Jay Street, where city employees have put nearly anything on their dash — including safety vests, letters, fabricated permits, and even once a barely passing 2018 Police Officer Exam — in an attempt to avoid getting a ticket.
Streetsblog reported over the summer that a whopping two out of every three parked cars on the stretch of Jay Street between Livingston and Tillary streets had “parking permits” in their windshield — and more than one-third of them were total shams. DOT claimed that transforming the street into a car-free busway restricted to just buses, bikes, and pedestrians would make it safer and improve beleaguered bus speeds along the corridor. The busway went into effect on Aug. 31, but the problem persists.
On Friday, Streetsblog visited the scene and found about six cars with Kings County District Attorney placards in illegal spots — though none in the bike lane — on both Jay Street and Adams Street.
And the Jeep in question was no longer making the “honest mistake” of parking in the bike lane; the detective had moved his truck to a different illegal parking spot on Adams Street, next to the bike lane that this time was occupied by cops (see below).
Eventually, of course, such illegal parkers can be written up by members of the public, thanks to the neighborhood’s frustrated Council Member Steve Levin, whose pending bill would create a system for people to report drivers who block bus and bike lanes — because, obviously, cops aren’t doing that particular job.
Neither the NYPD or DOT responded to a request for comment.