But in some neighborhoods, including Long Island City, advocates say streets are often blocked by cars parked illegally on the sidewalk.
Last Thursday morning, at the intersection of Crescent Street and 43rd Avenue, transit and civic groups joined Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer to highlight the dangerous effects of cars on sidewalks.
At that particular corner last week, three cars were parked on the sidewalk, and several more were parked inside a lot.
“Sidewalks are not made for cars to be parking on them,” Van Bramer said. “That is illegal and dangerous.
“Whether you’re building a building, coming to work or doing anything else, there is never an excuse,” he added. “It is not just inconvenient, it is dangerous and potentially deadly.”
Sarah Lyons, a mother of two kids and a member of the Court Square Civic Association, said she worried about the safety of her children and their friends.
She recalled an incident last June in Bushwick where a four-year-old girl who stopped to put on her shoe was run over by a driver driving on the sidewalk.
The girl, later identified as Luz Gonzalez, was taken to Wyckoff Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her mother, who was also struck, suffered lacerations to her leg.
“All we want is to be able to walk down the sidewalk and not have to live in fear that a car will run over our kids pulling into or out of a parking spot on the sidewalk,” Lyons said.
Lyons called on the NYPD, Department of Transportation (DOT) and City Council to “do everything they can” to solve the issue.
She also called on the businesses and drivers of Long Island City to “do better” by the children and families in the area.
For his part, Van Bramer called on both the 108th Precinct, which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, and the 114th Precinct, which spans Astoria and the northern part of LIC, to crack down on illegal parking “everywhere and every time.”
“There are too many free passes going on here that allow people, and encourage people, to park illegally,” he said.
Van Bramer added that he’s already met with Captain Michael Gibbs, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, about the issue.
“He knows it’s a problem as well,” he said.
The Long Island City pol further said that the illegally parked cars, including the ones at 43rd Avenue and Crescent Street, should be ticketed and towed. He will look at increasing the fines and penalties for these types of infractions, he said.
“This is not a matter of convenience, it’s a matter of life and death,” he said. “It’s a matter of safety.”
Van Bramer also announced last week his endorsement of a new campaign by the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives to use automated enforcement on common street infractions.
The campaign, called Tech for Safety, will soon be introduced as legislation in the City Council.
Juan Restrepo, Queens organizer for Transportation Alternatives, said the pilot program would bring 20 cameras to enforce three different infractions: parking in bike lanes, blocking the box and violating a pedestrian right-of-way.
“This is an endemic problem,” Restrepo said. “We’ve already seen that there are tragic results to actions like these.”
One example Restrepo noted was the death of 23-year-old Australian tourist Madison Jane Lyden, who was killed on the Upper West Side last August.
Lyden was riding her bike in a bike lane, but had to swerve when a cab was blocking it. She was then struck by a private sanitation truck.
The truck driver was reportedly arrested for driving while under the influence.
“It’s very tragic because it’s preventable,” Restrepo said.