The NYPD has issued illegal parking summonses to thousands of New Yorkers over the past seven years, the department admitted on Friday, extracting as much as $12 million from drivers who had broken no laws, mostly in lower-income neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.
The $165 tickets were handed out to drivers who parked in front of pedestrian ramps at “T” intersections, a practice that has been perfectly legal since a rule change in 2009 designed to improve pedestrian safety and open up more parking.
The illegal tickets were discovered by Ben Wellington, a statistics professor in the City & Regional Planning program at the Pratt Institute. Wellington analyzed ticketing data publicly available through NYC Open Data, a city-run portal that disseminates datasets collected by a raft of city agencies — the site pumps out spreadsheets detailing everything from restaurant inspection results to the city’s most popular baby names. In this case Wellington, who also runs the well-known data blog IQuantNewYork, started crunching numbers earlier this year and found that the department’s mistake was widespread.