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Great news: NYC's streets have become race tracks for post-apocalyptic dragsters

Noise complaints by residents along the West Side Highway are way up.

Written by
Howard Halle

Since the pandemic's start, a certain subset of New Yorkers have volubly expressed their need for speed by racing their motorbikes and souped-up muscles cars up and down New York's biggest thoroughfares.

Speeding in general has been up since the beginning of the lockdown, but according to a report in Patch, some 400 people have called 311 to complain specifically about drag-racing in their neighborhoods, compared to 87 such complaints made during the same period last year. The reason is simple: The streets are emptier because of the current crisis, and people are stuck at home—meaning more of them are around to suffer as internal combustion enthusiasts bring the noise.

As the borough with the most complaints, Manhattan is the epicenter of the motorized mayhem with neighborhoods along the biggest arteries—the West Side Highway, Harlem River Drive, the Henry Hudson Parkway—being the hardest hit.

However, the plague of drag-racing, or more precisely, street-racing, is nothing new. It's been going on for decades in parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, and with speeds reaching as high as 160 MPH, it's a dangerous pastime: In January of 2019, one racer slammed into light pole along Review Avenue in Long Island City and was pronounced dead at the scene.

If there's a difference between then and now, it may be the hours. While racing typically takes place late at night or early in the morning, a significant portion of recent complaints involved incidents between 9am and 5pm—brazen to be sure, but also temporary: At some point, normal NYC traffic is bound to return, crawling along at its usual snail’s pace.

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