‘Honest Mistake’? Brooklyn DA Detective Offers Poor Excuse for the Kind of Illegal Parking that Kills Cyclists

The Jeep of a Kings County District Attorney detective parked illegally on Adams Street. Photo: Julianne Cuba
The Jeep of a Kings County District Attorney detective parked illegally on Adams Street. Photo: Julianne Cuba

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.

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.

The detective's Jeep parked on Adams Street. Photo: Julianne Cuba
The detective’s Jeep was later parked in a no-parking area on Adams Street. Photo: Julianne Cuba

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).

Cops parked in the bike lane on Adams Street. Photo: Julianne Cuba
Cops parked in the bike lane on Adams Street. Photo: Julianne Cuba

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.


Jay Street Protected Bike Lane Construction Begins Next Week

Work on the protected bike lane on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn — including a new signalized crossing at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge — begins next Thursday, July 28. With around 2,400 cyclists a day, Jay Street is one of the busiest bike routes in the city — cyclists account for 34 percent of vehicle traffic during rush […]

Jay Street Protected Bike Lane Plan Clears Brooklyn CB 2 Committee

Last night, DOT presented its proposal for a protected bike lane on Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn to the Community Board 2 transportation committee [PDF]. Jay Street is the main approach for the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge bike path. During a 12-hour weekday period, DOT counted 2,400 cyclists on Jay Street, with bikes accounting for […]

The Jay Street Bike Lane Won’t Work If NYPD Parks All Over It

As crews restripe Jay Street to implement a curbside protected bike lane, some sort of learning curve is to be expected. Drivers need a little time to adjust to the new parking lane, which floats to the left of the bike lane buffer. But NYPD should know better from the start. Streetsblog reader Brandon Chamberlin snapped the […]

Do Unto Others? Church Parking Placards Put Cyclists in Harm’s Way

We posted the link in today’s headlines, but you really need the visuals that go with this story of bike-lane blocking, curb-mounting Sunday motorists, and the police who sanction them. Via Gothamist, the video comes courtesy of Ink Lake blogger Peter Kaufman, a Brooklyn Heights resident who noticed that all the cars illegally parked on […]