It is just a proposal for now, but it's already generating a lot of buzz. According to Bloomberg, New York City council member Lincoln Restler is pushing a bill that would reward New Yorkers with cash for reporting illegally parked cars around town.
Specifically, city dwellers submitting photo or video evidence of parked vehicles blocking bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks and entrances or exists of school buildings would be rewarded with 25% of a proposed $175 ticket. "The Department of Transportation would review the evidence to determine whether an infraction has occurred, according to the bill's text," reports Bloomberg.
Restler claims that the New York City Police Department hasn't issued enough tickets enforcing the traffic rule, a fact that could be confirmed by the Mayor's Management Report, according to which the number of traffic citations across town is about 50% below pre-pandemic levels at the moment.
"I feel the safety risks every day that are associated with illegal parking," Restler said to Bloomberg. "It's even more problematic for the parent pushing a stroller or a person in a wheelchair who can't get by on the sidewalk because of illegally parked cars. That's why we are creating, in this legislation, a new structure to bring real accountability."
If the proposed guidelines sound familiar, it is because they're modeled after the Citizens Air Complaint Program, which also offers a 25% reward to New Yorkers who report idling commercial vehicles.
Although groups like Bike New York support the bill, detractors argue that it could lead to violent conflicts between drivers and reporting civilians. Critics also note that, at $175 per ticket, penalties would end up harming lower income New Yorkers more harshly than others, a fact that would contribute to broader economic inequalities.
Others yet suggest that, although the city has done quite some work to ameliorate the condition of bikers across town, structural changes might be more beneficial than a prosed civilian program would.
Joanna Weiss, the co-founder of the Fines and Fees Justice Center, said to Bloomberg that higher curbs, road redesign, protected bike lanes and placard reform might more successfully prevent bad behavior all around. On that last point: the new legislation was proposed alongside companion laws that would basically eliminate city-issued parking permits (placards).
"The reason we introduced these two pieces of legislation together was because so many of the most egregious parking abuses are perpetrated by people with real or fake placards in their dashboard," Restler said to Bloomberg.
We'll have to wait and see what happens, but we're sure that, if the legislation passes, "reporting illegally parked vehicles" will become a side hustle that plenty of New Yorkers will gladly take on.