For at least a year now, the First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn Heights has been giving parishioners parking placards for their cars when parking in the bike lane on Henry Street. The placards explain to police that occupants of the vehicle are conducting "Church Business." One local resident, Peter Kaufman, believes "they have some 'understanding' with the 84th Precinct, whereby if they put a sign in their window that they are attending church, they don't get ticketed." On his blog Ink Lake, Kaufman posted video of this epic bike lane block during last Sunday's service [SPOILER: they're parked along the entire block]:
We called First Presbyterian Church, and a woman who would only identify herself as Annie told us, "When people come to church, they just take the sign from a stack inside the church. You can park in the bike lane anywhere on Henry between Pierrepont and Clark and the police won't ticket you, as long as you have that on your dashboard. But only during Sunday service."
At the 84th Precinct, Officer Brandon Bunting fielded our call and admitted that "it's a sensitive issue. I live in Harlem, and sometimes people park three cars wide there. But you're not allowed to block the bike lane, placard or no placard; if some kid is riding his bike there and has to go out in traffic, it could be bad. At the same time, it's a sensitive community issue and we try to work out a compromise." Another officer said, "For years we have allowed people to park in front of the church while they worship."
This isn't the first time the parking placard controversy has been injected with religion; for years police on the Upper East Side looked the other way when employees of Park East synagogue used bogus DIY parking placards for years to park illegally.