Campaigners say police cars and vans are among those regularly parked on the Castle Street cycle lane in Sheffield, metres from South Yorkshire Police’s Snig Hill headquarters.
They fear the presence of cars on the contraflow cycle lane, which has been in place since 1997, is forcing cyclists into the path of oncoming traffic.
South Yorkshire Police, which has received several complaints about its vehicles blocking the path of bicycles, has now warned staff to stop parking “anywhere other than in recognised police parking bays”.
An internal email from April released under the Freedom of Information Act said: “Clearly there are reputational risks with inconsiderate parking around Snig Hill. Our performance in this regard is clearly being monitored by highly motivated individuals and groups.
“It is impossible to refute some of the criticism that is directed at us, which accurately highlights our shortcomings through either a failure to plan or lack of consideration for others or both.”
Local cycling campaigner Matt Turner, 27, who requested the email after noticing a number of police officers had visited his cycling website, said taxi drivers parking on the lane was an “ongoing problem”.
He added: “We had the police saying they would move taxis on if they saw them parking there, but they don’t seem to do that and they seem to park there themselves.
“I am not too worried about it reflecting badly on the force, I just see them as another road user who should respect the rules. It is just another thing that puts people off cycling.”
Mr Turner took photographs of police cars on the cycle lane earlier this year after he was forced to weave in and out of heavy bus traffic in Castle Street.
A police spokeswoman said: “South Yorkshire Police do not approve of officers and staff parking inappropriately around Sheffield city centre, or indeed anywhere in the county.”