Every afternoon during the week, like clockwork, a cacophony of horns start to honk incessantly and permeate our Hell’s Kitchen office as vehicles comes to a standstill for several blocks at West 44th Street and 11th Avenue. The majority of the drivers are New Jersey commuters darting for the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.
Cars, SUVs, buses, and tractor trailers all jockey for position and execute some of the most egregious examples of blocking the box that you will ever witness. What makes this specific traffic shitshow unique, is that these same drivers also systematically occupy the northbound lane on 11th Avenue.
As traffic starts to build up on the southbound lanes, one by one, motorists begin to veer left (pictured above) and trickle across the double yellow line, quickly choking the major thoroughfare. This creates huge problems for vehicles attempting a left turn from West 44th Street, an exit off the West Side Highway. This blockage transforms a small stretch of 11th Avenue into an illegal one-way stream of automobiles, preventing that turn.
Last week, I observed a taxi driver who was attempting to head north on 11th Avenue — as drivers are legally entitled to do — get caught up in this carbon clusterfuck. So did the NYPD, but their response was extraordinary. When the police van, which was illegally traveling south on the wrong side of 11th Avenue observed this cabbie struggling to go north amidst this convoy of cars heading the other way, the cops wrongly assumed he was the one breaking the law.
So, they stopped their vehicle smack dab in the northbound lane, to prevent the cabbie from moving forward. They then got out of the van and promptly started questioning the taxi driver. “I want to hear this one,” said one of the cops, dickishly, as they walked up to the driver’s side window.
Unfortunately, the mic didn’t pick up their entire conversation, but what ensued was several minutes of the the cops scolding the man as cars can be seen in the background illegally overtaking the lane. At one point, that same smirking cop, say: “You see all this traffic coming that way, why did you still make the turn?” Soon after, I had to interject and explain to the police that the cabbie was headed the right way.
They eventually let him proceed north legally and drove away illegally. Just shy of 45th Street the cabbie rolled down his window. “Thank you. If it wasn’t for you they may have given me a ticket,” he said. (Photos/Video: Bucky Turco/ANIMALNewYork)