Reporting Stan Brooks
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With bike lanes and pedestrian plazas popping up everywhere, drivers feel like an endangered species in New York City.
But the City Council wants to change that, starting with a novel idea that could reduce the number of tickets traffic agents give out, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
What if a traffic agent actually had to prove that every ticket he or she gives out is legitimate?
You think it’s a fantasy?
Not to Council Transportation Chair James Vacca, who said Tuesday its time to reverse what he says is the anti-driver bias of the Bloomberg administration.
“We want a picture taken of the actual offense. We want that traffic agent to document with a picture exactly what was the offense,” Vacca said.
Noting that the number of traffic summonses have nearly tripled under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Vacca is questioning whether all of them are strictly legit.
“We have people who work two jobs who are now being required to take time off from those jobs to go fight traffic tickets that are bogus to begin with,” Vacca said.
At her state of the city speech, Council Speaker Christine Quinn also suggested easing alternate side of the street parking regulations to create more parking, and a law to prohibit agents from issuing tickets to drivers who momentarily step away from their vehicles to pay the meters.
“A $65 parking ticket, it seems like a small problem until you’re $65 short for your rent,” Quinn said.
“It’s a real pain in the neck sometimes,” said Kashif Brahim of Marine Park.
“If you don’t find a Monday park, you got to park on the Tuesday side. You got to get up at 9 a.m. and then if you don’t find a Thursday you got to park Tuesday and, it’s just ridiculous,” said Tony Filiciano of Chelsea.
Taking on what she calls the City’s effort to nickle-and-dime drivers, Council Speaker Christine Quinn is unveiling a series of “driver-friendly” initiatives aimed at making parking a bit easier.
1010 WINS Reporter Stan Brooks with ideas for parking tickets and meter maids
Among the ideas Quinn is floating during Tuesday’s State of the City speech is a proposal that would reduce the number of alternate-side parking days in some neighborhoods. Streets that received the highest cleanliness rating two years running would have the option to scale back street cleaning from two days a week to just one.
“You would actually be able to find parking on the side, that’d be perfect,” said Cindy Santiago of East Elmhurst.
However, some non-drivers are more critical. “A lot’s happened in the City lately and it’s cleaned up a lot and I don’t know if I would sacrifice it or not,” said Robert Minicki of Haledon, N.J.
Quinn was also targeting meter maids. Currently they can and do ticket any cars that don’t have a receipt on the dashboard, even if the driver is stepping away to pay the meter – no exceptions, no warnings.
“I had an experience with a traffic cop. I’m sitting in my car and I still get a ticket,” said Kashif Brahim of Marine Park.
Under the new proposal, ticket agents would have to tear up tickets on the spot for drivers who show a valid receipt.
After the recent push to make the City more bike-friendly, some drivers say its about time they get a break as well. “They got their break. I think drivers deserve a break too,” said Anthony Aviles of Chelsea.
Quinn is also pitching an online resource that would point drivers to open parking spots and alert them to street closures.
A spokesperson for Mayor Bloomberg said the City already has a pilot program for reducing alternate side parking in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
The relatively new push to spread the bike lanes further across the boroughs is only fueling the deep divide between drivers and bikers.
Yolanda Lopez of the Bronx is no fan of the the new pro-bike regulations. “I hate it with a passion,” she said.
“They put up a new sign, I make a wrong turn, I get a $90 ticket and points on my license. Nothing’s happening to these guys,” said Kate Helpern of the Lower East Side.