Editorial: Give Stuy Town’s drivers a break

As Town & Village reported this week, a number of community residents have gotten parking tickets or even towed for parking in spots along the newly designed 20th Street east of First Avenue that used to be legal.

While the city has already made the choice to justify the permanent loss of 12 parking spaces in the interest of enhanced traffic safety (an important issue to be sure) it’s unfortunate that this plan was enacted with almost no heads up to the community (unless you count a tweet in September by the Department of Transportation, followed by an article in this newspaper after residents noticed the sudden loss of parking spaces).

It is also unfortunate that this lack of communication extends between city agencies. Ideally, there would have been a message given to the NYPD that parking spaces that are no longer legal were legal up until very recently and that perhaps motorists parking where they have always parked might be deserving of a grace period, as Council Member Keith Powers is asking for.

As for the issue of people concerned about having to cross two bike lanes to get to a bus stop, we understand their frustrations as well because while the 13th Precinct has been pretty consistent in stopping scofflaw cyclists and e-bike riders when they catch them, the police can’t be everywhere and not everyone can outrun the bikes. The author of one of the letters above makes a valid point about this.

We believe it would be a worthwhile idea to have some NYPD monitoring of the bike lanes, at least for a while until pedestrians, cyclists and motorists become accustomed to the new lay of the land.

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9 thoughts on “Editorial: Give Stuy Town’s drivers a break

  1. As a cyclist, I don’t mind that there are motorists that live nearby who don’t want to find themselves facing a huge hassle with local parking & I definitely don’t mind being careful on the new bicycle lane on 20th Street, which I appreciate & I hope works well enough for everyone.

    As a resident of downtown Manhattan, I’m appalled to find anyone with an entitled attitude about street parking. There is a very adequate transit network in the area & there are many residents who cannot afford the costs of car ownership here. There is also a very big automobile garage right across the street. There are also clear signs on the street noting where parking is legal and illegal. And there’s the issue that no resident owns curbside parking here.

    Most local residents aren’t confused about the difference between “it would be nice to have parking available where it makes sense to provide it” and “you owe me a parking space”. If you are forever going to begrudge your neighbors, the local council member & the city because of 12 first-come-first-serve parking spaces that were repurposed (out of hundreds around the complex), you should move somewhere that is designed as a car-first, parking-first environment. This place ain’t it.

    While my own personal feelings about the matter are informed by global policy examples, I have interacted with many members of the local community, particularly during the L Train open house & feedback sessions — among the many ideas going around, I was surprised to consistently hear from ST and East Village residents, unprompted, that they held little priority for casual local drivers & would support getting rid of all the street parking in the neighborhood. That’s not exactly the way I think things should go down, but the truth is that few local residents own cars & benefit from street parking; far more people would benefit from transit enhancements (particularly improved paratransit, better bus dispatching & restoring service cuts from the MTA) & there would also be a much greater audience served by expanding CitiBike into more curbside parking rather than vice-versa. As I see it, car owners feel the opposite & feel very put-upon by the difficulties of street parking in Manhattan. I understand that… it’s because you own a car in a place where it doesn’t make sense. The problem is not everyone else; it’s your car. There isn’t any more street parking coming. It’s never going to get easier. Sell your car and free yourself of the burden. (Not that they ever fetch much of a price anyway) Leave the street parking sagas to the newcomers who don’t listen to good advice & will also get fed up eventually.

    • I often hear this from bicyclists — get rid of your car. In case you’ve forgot, this is a city not the suburbs. You don’t seem to comprehend that not everyone can or wants to ride a bike or take public transportation. Do you expect someone with a family to get their groceries home on the bus or on their bike? It’s unrealistic and selfish thinking. Not everyone can afford to have their groceries delivered from a Fresh Direct or Peapod. Should someone pick up their elderly grandparent on the back of their bike? NY has always had cars. We are not Amsterdam. There is no comparison and I don’t appreciate people who come to this city and dictate that people give up their cars. That’s a personal choice and it shouldn’t be thrust upon them. I made a choice to give up my car because I wasn’t using it as much as I used to. Again — my choice. If things change, I’ll buy another car. I use my bike just as much as I did prior to that. You don’t seem to realize that there are places out of the city that are inaccessible by public transport and a car is necessary. If there are too many cars for your liking, perhaps you can move to a bike friendly city. Also, if you think cars don’t “fetch much of a price anyway”, you’re out of touch.

      I would appreciate it if some bicyclists get rid of their entitled attitude. You have bike lanes; now use them. You have a red light — you’re supposed to stop and not yell, “Get out of the way!” to a pedestrian. Ride with the traffic; not against it. When you run someone down, take responsibility. Basically, follow the rules. We’ve had cars and bikes for years without bike lanes and we managed to survive. If anything, the configuration of bike lanes by the curb and cars parking in what used to be a driving lane has made it more dangerous for all. What we need now is common sense and mutual cooperation.

      • Are you people joking? I’ve lived in Manhattan for almost 15 years. I think I understand very, very well that it is very hard to own a car in Manhattan with no dedicated garage space. It is FAR easier to use a car in the suburbs, and much harder to get around via bicycle (particularly because all the drivers are trying to kill you).

        This is a transit-oriented city, and it always has been, and if your personal car gets in the way of transit & emergency vehicles then it should be towed out to sea. While you don’t HAVE to give up your cars, telling the city that it MUST plan to give your personal automobile space to park (at both your origins and destinations) is an act of self-centered hostility against the other residents of the city. Manhattan simply doesn’t have the space for your cars. Even if every bicycle lane and bus lane became metered parking, it still doesn’t have the space for everyone to have cars. Almost every other global city has learned this lesson and has instituted strict driving access limits & parking limits in their urban core. They did not do this because they’re all quirky… they did this because this is the only way that cities really work, and cars are the new things to the equation (after thousands of years of civilization) that do not work.

        Here’s the good news: if we phase in better transit access (like restoring bus service cuts) and if we slowly but definitively encourage personal vehicle owners to either garage their occasional-use vehicles (if they can afford it) or sell their cars without replacing them, then there’s enough street space for everyone to get around quite functionally. We should have a setup where transit covers all needs, and that should be a priority over maintaining a high flow of traffic for individual car drivers just rolling around Manhattan whenever they like. That benefits the most people by far, including in this district, where under 20% of the households have access to a personal car (meaning over 80% of residents primarily get around via transit). This is in the national census, it’s not something I made up because I moved here last month and I want to annoy you. If you accept these facts and make long-term decisions accordingly, it will help you in the long run.

        • For what it’s worth, I don’t own a car, don’t care if anyone else does, or where they park, think this unnecessary redesign is awful, and have been cycling in NYC daily since before you were likely born. I have no problem with free on-street parking, but then again I don’t view motorists as my enemy.

          What do you call someone who thinks a freakin’ parking spot “is an act of self-centered hostility against the other residents of the city”? Self-righteous zealot?

  2. A majority of cyclists claims they need safer streets but we have all seen those cyclist, run red lights or zip through crowds or even go the wrong way. Because they are on a bike they think its safe and they are above traffic laws. NYC laws states that bike are to be treated like vehicles, meaning you can not run a red light because it is convenient for you to do so, Or go against the traffic because you don’t want to cross to the other side of the street. There should be a new law, stating that all cyclist needs to have their bikes registered like cars and have license plates. So pedestrians can report those crazy cyclist.

    • Tom, you should know that if you call the local precinct with a vehicle’s license plate number and say that you saw a motorist use that car to break a traffic law, there’s nothing that they can or will do about it. So this isn’t going to work for bicycles, either.

      The main effect of requiring bicycle registrations will be that each cyclist will have to pay $75 to “license” their bike like a car, and every unlicensed bicyclist minding their own business otherwise will have to pay upwards of $150 in fines and court fees when the cops pull them over in a traffic sting for no other reason. These are the same as it costs to break the law with a vehicle (because fines are not differentiated) – you could buy a whole bicycle with $150.

      The police have never said that they have had problems identifying cyclists who are involved in serious collisions, and the local precinct is already writing hundreds of bicycle tickets a year around the area of Stuy Town (out of over 10,000 trips taken per day).

      However, if you think bicycle riders should be universally monitored and cited for any offenses on the principle of the matter – that, because they think they are not cars and can be more casual, that they are more dangerous & should NEVER get away with breaking the law – then yes, adding more onerous and expensive laws would have a substantial effect along those lines.

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