Lesson 1: shave even on Sundays - you never know when the press will show up. Yesterday morning I went out to see if any of the coverage of the bike-lane parking by service-goers of First Presbyterian Church had caused either the people to park somewhere else, or for the cops to hand out tickets.
Nope. As I walked up Henry Street, the entire bike lane was filled with cars - all with a 'We're Praying' sign. Only the spot in front of 160 Henry, which fought back with orange traffic cones, was empty.
As I walked down the street, again taking a movie of all the parked cars, a reporter from News 12 Brooklyn showed up. She saw me with my camera and said she wanted to talk to me, and I said, "likewise". I told her I was the author of the original blog post. She interviewed me, shot some video of the street, then went inside to interview someone from the church.
When services ended, I approached the pastor, the Reverend Stephen Phelps, who was saying goodbye to worshipers. I asked if I could tape him, and he said he'd "prefer you didn't." (Lesson 2: next time, tape him saying that); but he did talk to me for a few minutes.
He told me that he's had the job for about a month, and that in every "city that he knew", the police allowed church-goers to park in order to pray, because church members "add so much to the spirit of the community". I reminded him that you don't have to go to church in order to add to the community, which he then said he agreed with.
He said the church had been there for over 150 years, long before bike lanes, or even cars. I said, "So?" He then said that some members felt the need to drive, and that if they couldn't park, the church "might die".
To me, it seems unlikely that church a that is a century-and-a-half old will not survive if 25 cars can't park right in front.
I then said, "I bet, if the police ticketed you guys a couple of weeks in a row, people would find somewhere else to park." He said, "Yes, probably."
I reminded the Reverend that plenty of kids are on the backs of the bikes that use the lane, and asked what he planned to say if due to the illegal parking, a bicyclist was to be hurt or killed by a car in front of his church.
He said, "Well, you've given us something to aspire to. Thank you for being a witness." He shook my hand and went back in the church.