Monday, March 5, 2012

The Other Side of Alternate Side Parking Rules

One of the worst things about having a car in New York City is its alternate side parking rules.

Every block is plastered with signs saying when street sweeping occurs. In Bay Ridge, it's a 90-minute stretch once a week, and the day and time differ depending on both the block and the side of the street. For example, it might be 8:30 to 10 a.m. Thursday on the south side of a block, and 8:30 to 10 a.m. Friday on the opposite side. In other neighborhoods, street sweeping occurs twice a week. So it's important to read the signs carefully before you park, particularly if you plan to leave your car in place for multiple days, or even if you plan to move the car the next day, but not until the afternoon.

Now that Paul drives to work almost every day, parking the car isn't nearly as much of an issue as it was a couple of years ago. (But remember that I'm saying this is one who never has to drive or park the car.) Paul nearly always leaves earlier that even the earliest street sweeping (except for the rare sweeps that begin in the 7 o'clock hour). That makes finding a parking spot much easier. On Monday nights, he can park on a block scheduled for a Tuesday morning sweep -- he's out in plenty of time.

Still, there's one thing for street parkers to be aware of. When streets are scheduled to be swept on one side of the street, it's perfectly fine to double park on the opposite side of the street. That means you could theoretically be blocked for 90-minutes. Paul was blocked once before work, but he kept honking his horn until the driver came out to the street and moved his vehicle. Paul thinks that's New York's form of driver etiquette -- OK, you can double park, but you have to respond to the honks.

Sometimes you'll even see drivers in their double-parked cars, engines on during the cold months. Presumably they're waiting for the streets to be cleaned so they can immediately get their prime parking spot back once the street is pristine.

In more than four years of living in Brooklyn, Paul has never once gotten a ticket for failing to meet alternate side parking rules (although there have been a handful of last-minute morning scrambles to move the car). We've been lucky. Orange tickets on windshields are common morning sights.

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