NYPD officers handed out fliers on April 2nd near the notorious intersection of 125th street and Lenox Ave where several deadly accidents have taken place in the past few years. The fliers warned about the dangers of double parking for drivers and pedestrians.
“I’m always happy to see NYPD, because I feel the people are a little bit safer with them looking out over us. It’s always good to see the NYPD, it really is,” said Benny Merritt who lives a few blocks away from the intersection.
Some Harlem residents couldn’t recall the accidents that had taken place over the years but in January 2014, Pedro Santiago, a 45-year-old bicyclist was killed by an MTA bus as it pulled out of a stop near the intersection. Santiago was attempting to cross in front of it. Similarly, in September 2012, a 26-year-old taxi cab driver hit a 62-year-old man on a motorcycle as they both approached the intersection. The motorcyclist was pinned against a tour bus stopped at a red light and was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital.
The 28th precinct, located on 120th street and Frederick Douglass Blvd, handed out ‘Parking Alert’ fliers encouraging Harlemites to, “Please Respectfully Park Your Car”; take the time to look at your surroundings before parking and; avoid double parking.
“[Making the public aware] can only help, I drive and I know it could be dangerous,” said Merritt. “You have kids running between cars, cars that can’t see them, so to be aware is to be alive.”
Another flier handed out discouraged drivers from double parking because the practice obstructs the view of other drivers, impedes traffic flow, and increases the chance of collisions.
Miguel Matos, 53, who was handed a flier before crossing the intersection was skeptical about the NYPD message to the public about double parking when they themselves do it.
“I hope its going to help a little bit, but their own people do it [double park],” he shrugged and said.
Still, one NYPD officer maintains that this is positive action, meant to decrease the number of fatalities caused by car accidents in the heavily trafficked shopping area, that is also an attraction for tourists seeking to visit the renowned Apollo Theater.
Gavin Chi, 30, a vendor on 125th street, said sometimes shoppers need to double-park otherwise they won’t find parking.
Chi, who admits to double parking when he has an emergency, thinks making the public aware with the fliers will probably help the issue, but he isn’t sure that people will heed the warning.
“[Drivers] know that double parking is illegal, but sometimes they really have no choice.”
Those who drive and shop in the area agree, but one offered another suggestion for decreasing the probability of collisions.
“There’s always a couple of things [the city] can do, starting with fixing the ground,” said Merritt. “A lot of accidents are caused by all these potholes; the car gets out of control [after] going in potholes and that’s a danger to the public too, so its a lot of issues, [double-parking] is just one of the issues.”