When the NYPD Puts the Public At Risk

Joel Epstein
3 min readOct 16, 2023


By: Joel Epstein

Traffic enforcement matters.

The NYPD blocking the bike lane at 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.

A few blocks from my apartment on St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem is a dangerous intersection for pedestrians and bike riders, deliveristas and drivers. Stand on the corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and 145th Street and watch the cars and trucks and bikers and deliveristas run the red light and you will see just how hazardous this intersection can be. But that’s not all. Compounding the risk to public safety, NYPD regularly parks in the bike lanes south of 145th Street forcing bikers and deliveristas out into traffic. This isn’t a sometime thing. Everyday, patrol cars and vans block the bike lanes.

NYPD breaking the law and endangering public safety.

Sometimes it’s the transit police who in principle are patrolling the busy A, B, C and D station and sometimes the cars and vans appear to belong to the local precinct. Making matters worse, following the NYPD’s lead and the utter lack of parking enforcement, customers of Dunkin’ and Famous Fish Market on the east side of St. Nicholas Avenue near the corner double and triple park up the block. On the west side of St. Nicholas Avenue, drivers regularly double park as well to drop off and pick up students at the Neighborhood Charter School: Harlem.

Of course this isn’t the only place the NYPD flouts the City’s laws and parking regulations to suit their unclear purposes. Anyone biking up or down St. Nicholas Avenue between 123rd and 122nd Streets can rely on the lanes being blocked by patrol cars and vans from the 28th Precinct. Placard abuse by officers who park their private cars in the bike lanes is a related problem that no one in the Police Commissioner’s office or City Hall seems to give a damn about. Yes, I have frequently reached out to the Commissioner and on NYC 311.

An NYPD van, parked the wrong way, blocking the bike lane outside the 28th Precinct (The situation is no better following the recent street repaving).

If it hasn’t already occurred, someone will no doubt be killed or seriously injured because of the NYPD’s illegal parking and lack of enforcement at both 145th Street and 123rd Street. And what will happen then? The City will be sued and will ultimately settle, shelling out millions of dollars in a settlement that won’t ever bring back the loved one lost to a preventable situation.

A deliverista forced into the middle of the street by a long line of double parked cars blocking the northbound St. Nicholas Avenue bike lane.

Around the City, the Department of Transportation is remaking streets, including Third and Tenth Avenues, to make them safer and to separate bikers and pedestrians from moving motor vehicles.

A new bike way protected by a floating parking lane on Third Avenue on the Upper East Side. This should be done on St. Nicholas Avenue.

Curbside bike lanes and floating parking lanes are an effective way to reduce the friction that occurs when streets serve multiple uses as they do here. In an effort to gain traction for traffic enforcement and protected bike lanes and floating parking lanes at 145th Street I have reached out to City Councilmember Shaun Abreu as well as NYCDOT and Transportation Alternatives.

It is past time to make these intersections safer so no one becomes a victim of the NYPD’s indifference. We have the means and the strategies to do so and no coffee and a donut is worth more than a human life.

Yours in transit,


Joel Epstein is a New Yorker and an advocate for public transit, livable cities and public space.

#nyc #NYPD #NYCDOT #TransAlt #ShaunAbreu #BikeNewYork #SafeStreets #VisionZero #ProtectedBikelanes #TrafficEnforcement #PlacardAbuse