Illegal Parking Abounds on Main Street as PSD Idles


Illegal parking is more than a nuisance for rule-bending drivers. On Main Street or anywhere else, it overturns laws devoted to public safety, even if the reasons aren’t always obvious. Say your child gets hit because an illegally parked car blocked the view, you’d want something done, wouldn’t you? But on Roosevelt Island, that’s far from guaranteed where the worst cheating is of the official variety.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Illegal Parking Is Everywhere. So, How Come Public Safety Can’t See It?

“Honestly, cars parked within a foot or two of pedestrian crossings is an issue up and down Main Street every day, and I never ever see notices or adequate signage,” our reader wrote. He offered emailed details and a photo.

Main Street at 40 River Road.

According to New York DMV: Parking or standing is not allowed within 30 feet (10 m) of a traffic light, STOP sign or YIELD sign. Here, you’ve got a doubleheader, and our reader says he sees it every day.

Routine failures in enforcing these rules may have contributed to recent accidents on Main Street where women were stuck by cars in crosswalks.

But really, what can you expect when RIOC’s official policy makes rule-breaking its standard?

The New York State Shelton J. Haynes Parking Area.

When the state agency that never makes a mistake decided that President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes must have his own, four space parking area, a perk all of his predecessors managed to do without, they carved out his privilege in open defiance of DMV regulations.

DMV: Parking or standing within 20 feet (6 m) of a crosswalk at an intersection is not allowed. Except on Roosevelt Island if it pleases Shelton J. Haynes.

A key reason for this regulation is giving pedestrians and drivers a clear view of each other at their potential point of contact. No driver approaching this intersection would ever see a child running into this crosswalk nor would the child see the car. Many, maybe most drivers handle this and other Roosevelt Island intersections as opportunities for “rolling stops.”

What was PSD thinking when bowing to Haynes’s demands for free parking for four cars? What are they thinking now when anyone with passing familiarity with DMV regulations knows this puts people of all ages at risk?

From Haynes’s example, it flows downhill…

Leadership misbehavior and elitist privilege leads to predictable results.

Taking a short walk between the Tram and Good Shepherd Plaza, about a quarter mile, I found, In under 15 minutes, the Shelton Haynes PSD-supported violation along with these…

Cars on both sides of the crosswalk violate DMV’s published rules. A friend of mine in a wheelchair was smacked by a car in a situation just like this. “Rolling stops” and illegally parked cars make a perfect storm for the vulnerable.

At a recent Town Hall, Public Safety chief Kevin Brown declared, responding to a complaint, “We enforce parking regulations.” But no, they don’t. Including the gas guzzler parked in the New York State Shelton J. Haynes Parking Area, I never saw a single ticket.

Nor, honestly, did I expect to.

DMV: Parking or standing is not allowed along a curb that is cut, lowered or made for access to the sidewalk. This one even ignores the painted curb and diagonal lines marking off the area.

This one’s even in a well-marked red zone, maybe a hundred feet from PSD’s offices, but no action.

DMV: You cannot stop, park or stand within 15 feet (5 m) of a fire hydrant, unless a licensed driver remains in the vehicle to move it in an emergency.

Here’s yet another fire hydrant violation and in a marked off area.

Last but not least, a delivery ban not just illegally parked at a hydrant, but too close to the crosswalk. We’ve all seen children run into crosswalks. When views are blocked, a hard lesson is always waiting to be taught.

With the routine “rolling stops” consistently tolerated, wheelchairs, strollers and children take unnecessary risks every day here.


Illegal parking is as common on Roosevelt Island as doing things the right way is. Somewhere along the line, there must be a reason why RIOC’s 50 public safety officers can’t be effective. And once we learn that, we can make the changes needed to fix it.

But don’t bubble over with optimism. In recent months, we’ve seen local politicians as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo-in-a-Dress circle the wagons in protecting RIOC from accountability.

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  1. The new stop signs say to Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. seems to be interpreted as no need to stop if no pedestrian is seen. That is probably the rolling stop you discuss. The signs are ridiculous. At the meeting last week Bacon spoke of ” speed HUMPS. Never explained that they are different from BUMPS.

    • Humps are just less dramatic and aim to get around the law by reducing risk. But speed was not an issue in any of the recent accidents. The real issue, which we heard repeatedly in the “Town Hall” is the absence of PSD’s 50 officers and, when they are present, their indifference. I should add I talked with Chief Brown about this, a few years ago, and even showed him video of officers standing around while cars and bikes rolled through intersections. The large problem is that, nice guy that he is, Kevin Brown is not up to the job. When Jack McManus left, there was a huge drop off because, with Jack, you could bring him a problem and he’d act on it. If he disagreed, he’d say so. We’re paying a lot of money for a very weak operation, and it’s costing us a ton in nonmonetary ways.

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