Monday, January 21, 2019

Gowanus, Where Cars Are Parked On Sidewalks

Today, we make way for Gowanus resident  J. Moccasin Walker here on PMFA. Walker  (his nom de plume) contacted us a few weeks ago to make us aware of a problem that has plagued his neighborhood for some time: drivers parking their cars on the sidewalk, thereby blocking the way for pedestrians.
After counting 24 cars and trucks parked on the sidewalk at the same time on Union Street between Nevins and 4th Avenue, he decided to reach out to the community to document and make aware of this issue.

What’s with all the cars parked on the sidewalk?
By J. Moccasin Walker ***

It seems like we have an epidemic of drivers parking cars on the sidewalks in Gowanus. Sidewalks are for pedestrians, not parked cars. They are for parents with strollers, folks in wheelchairs and little kids on scooters. Sidewalks are not for motor vehicles.

While there are a few technical exceptions, drivers are not allowed to park, stop or stand on any sidewalk in New York City.

Parking on sidewalks reduces pedestrian space. It can divert people into the street to pass. We need to make the city more pedestrian friendly, not less. It is true that growth has increased competing uses and pressures. More traffic of every kind is using the same real estate. Local businesses, long used to open loading space, are being squeezed. Workers who drive to jobs in manufacturing zones are competing with new residents for street parking. Crews working on new buildings or upgrading sewers and utilities are added to the mix, both with work vehicles and with the cars they commute in. Ultimately, new solutions may be needed that go beyond this or any neighborhood, but in the meantime, things have gotten out of hand. There were twenty-four vehicles parked on the sidewalks of Union Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues one day last fall!

One of these days a mom with young kids will step out into the street to pass a parked car. A big truck will be speeding by and suddenly there’ll be a tragedy. Let’s not wait for that, let’s sort this out now. Why doesn’t the NYPD, or Councilmember Levin or Lander address the problem before the next accident?

People need to work and live, but the sidewalks are not free square footage for every business to expand onto or for any driver to park on. It’s bad enough we have dysfunction, narcissism and lawlessness in the White House. The good people of Brooklyn should maintain a more civil society and respect our neighbors and our shared public space.

*** J. Moccasin Walker hopes to be an occasional contributor to Pardon Me For Asking. A driver, a bicyclist and a pedestrian, he is an ever more cantankerous idealist. If he had a blog it might be called "Don’t Get Me Started."

This isn’t in Gowanus, but it shows the problem perfectly. You can see the crosswalk in the foreground and cars parked on sidewalk. The pedestrian has been forced into the street, which is inconvenient, dangerous and just plain wrong. This was taken last week on 4th Avenue by Industry City.

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These next two shots are on the east side of Nevins, opposite the Dand D pool and park.
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This is Sackett just west of 3rd Avenue, looking west.
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This is Sackett just west of 3rd Avenue again, looking the other way.

This shot is on the east side of 4th Avenue, looking north towards Douglass Street
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This is the sidewalk by the gas station at Union Street and 4th Avenue
Here is more of the same at the gas station on Union and 4th.
Here is another shot of that gas station at night.If the cars belong to gas station employees, 
they have all sorts of room in back to park a car or two.
This is Union Street west of 3rd Avenue.
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Here’s Union east of 3rd Avenue
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This is the north side of Union between 3rd and 4th.
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This is the small garden on 4th Ave, just north of Union. This car had a Parks Department parking permit but it was for Queens. And there was room at the curb!
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These are more shots back near the D and D pool, looking west towards Nevins.
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Here is the same corner, by the D and D pool block, looking northeast.
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The car wash on 4th Avenue and 1st Street has made the sidewalk a regular part of their shop. It is always soapy and slippery underfoot and nearly always blocked.
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This is mid-block on Sackett Street, looking east from Nevins.
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This is DeGraw Street just west of 3rd Avenue.
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PMFA would like to thank Walker for this contribution and for making us aware of this 'epidemic.'
Let us hear from you, dear Readers.  Are you noticing this issue in Gowanus as well?  


Anonymous said...

I live in Gowanus and our block association has had great results working together with the 78th Precinct Neighborhood Community Officers to fix these types of ongoing quality-of-life issues. I'd highly encourage Walker to reach out to the NCOs and outline where the problem is occurring, and they'll definitely put it on their radar. They're friendly guys and work together to solve the problem.

The NCOs can be emailed here:

The NYPD NCO program is wonderful. They're taken care of abandoned cars for us, had the USPS stop blocking our sidewalks and bike lanes, and even brought a squad car to our block party. Can't recommend these guys enough.

Rob Blatt said...

This is a HUGE issue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens as well, especially with the post office on Empire Blvd.

Anonymous said...

This is a consequence of DOTs traffic mitigates in our CB6 neighborhoods. The installation of bike lanes, bike corrals, extended sidewalks, designated parking for rental cars have limited parking spaces and forced people to park illegally. I don’t condone this but the City can’t take away street parking and not build alternatives. No one is giving up their cars!

jr195 said...

I open 311 complaints all the time about this. NYPD does nothing, often closing the case within minutes.

trevor said...

And city council says that rental bicycles and scooters parked on sidewalks are an intolerable nuisance, so we can't have them.

But block the entire sidewalk with your personal car? "Why, that's totally fine, we would never want to inconvenience the 25% of New Yorkers who own cars by denying them from taking 100% of available street space."

Anonymous said...

What about the cars parked on the sidewalk outside the police station on Classon Avenue between Dekalb and Lafayette? Pedestrians are forced to walk on the uneven bricks next to the schoolyard

J.M. Walker said...

Interesting responses, thank you all. Passing NYPD or traffic officers I've asked to ticket parked cars on the sidewalk always have some reason for not doing so. I will contact the 78th Pct. Community Affairs as per the suggestion. I noticed an interesting post elsewhere about this same problem on Baltic between 3rd and 4th a few years back. As for the NYPD parking their own personal cars on the sidewalk, it is constant, blatant and extreme in front of the 78th on 6th Avenue, but I figured I needed to pick my battles. Can't say they lead by example though. - J.M. Walker

bored at work said...

The entire block of Union Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue is a problem. Multiple car repair businesses routinely block the sidewalk. I have some sympathy for these businesses as they are working on damaged cars. The worst offender here, and highlighted in the photos but not by name, is the casket company on Union Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues. Employees routinely park their private vehicles on the sidewalk adjacent to the building with no regard for pedestrians. Perhaps the NCOs can work with the businesses to remind them of their obligations.

This has nothing to do with the creation of bike lanes and other infrastructure (which makes for a safer environment for all) as the casket company has been using the sidewalk for parking for as long as I have been in the neighborhood (25+ years)

Anonymous said...

the north side of Union St between Hicks and Henry is impassable to pedestrians because of NYPD's personal vehicles parked on the sidewalk outside the 76th precinct. It's ridiculous to think they'd ever enforce the "no parking on sidewalk" law there or elsewhere.