UWS Struggles with NYPD Clogging Columbus Ave Traffic

A totaled car in police custody parked in front of The Strand on Columbus Ave between 81st and 82nd streets (May, 2021)

Community Board 7‘s Transportation Committee met on Tuesday evening to discuss a number of items, one of which was why the western side of Columbus Avenue between 81st and 82nd streets is frequently lined with double-parked private cars blocking traffic.


One board member pointed out that the cars are sometimes clearly police vehicles, and that sometimes the vehicles are damaged – adding that they “[make] it much tougher to get through those blocks for not only vehicles but buses and delivery vans and everything.” The board member added that he sometimes sees the line of cars extending to 83rd Street and even sitting in turning lanes.

The 20th Precinct’s traffic sergeant joined the meeting to clarify that the cars belong to officers – while later confirming that some of the damaged vehicles may have been in accidents or belonged to suspects.

“As you guys are well aware, parking around the precinct is very limited. Unfortunately, we have an influx of officers with limited parking space here. So unfortunately, they do take up those lanes. Sometimes they’re in the turning lane. We try to talk to officers, they most often move their vehicles. But it’s simple. It’s us. Those are our vehicles. Parking here is very limited. And again, we’ve had an influx of officers coming in from different commands. So we can continuously keep talking to them, keep talking to them. I know that they’re also doing construction on the precinct block itself, which unfortunately at times [forces us] to move some of these vehicles back out onto Columbus.”

The sergeant went on to state that there are three nearby streets where parking is designated for cops, but that residents who aren’t aware of this frequently take their spots. The streets he mentioned were the precinct street itself (82nd between Amsterdam and Columbus), Columbus Ave between 81st and 83rd streets, and 83rd between CPW and Columbus.


There was some questioning about whether all of those cars belong to 20th Precinct cops. The sergeant said it’s the “vast majority” of them.

A board member also asked the sergeant if the NYPD had any relationships with parking garages, but he said that question was above his pay grade.

A member of the public who attended the meeting argued that the street they live on – Columbus Ave. between 81st and 82nd – is frequently dirty and full of rats because, they say, the street never gets a proper cleaning because of the parked cars. Talk ensued about a coordinated effort between the Dept of Sanitation and NYPD.

“We will be talking to you and to DOT about getting you some more parking spaces in strategic locations. And if you have anybody in the precinct that has the option of taking mass transit, I’d be happy to give them the best directions from where they’re starting,” a board member said at the meeting’s conclusion.

The full meeting can be watched here (it’s the first 30 minutes or so).


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