Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Alternate Sides Parking

Living in a big city, you have to deal with some unique rules.
Parking, as an example. Because we don't expect people to be universally considerate about litter, especially away from their own homes, we have a flotilla of trucks and sweepers that descend on neighborhoods to try to either pick up trash before it becomes litter or to move litter into areas where it can be picked up easily.
To do that, the city has to designate certain hours of certain days each week as "No Parking" or as we here in the city refer to them "Alternate Side Parking Regulations".
Basically, for an hour and a half at least one day a week, if you park a car on a city street you'll be expected to move it, or to expect a ticket (or worse, if the area is congested enough). The city mandates personal responsibility, in other words.
This does have some humourous sidelights: the scramble to get to the car before the parking enforcement agent does, the double-parking on the opposite side of the street waiting for the first minute that it's safe to move the car back over, the minuet of waiting until precisely one minute after the deadline (hardy veterans know to wait five minutes), and then locking the car, safe for another day. Circling the block for hours to avoid the cop who motors by looking for people who are double-parked waiting for the spot to become legal, and so on.
Normally, these rules are suspended for a day or two during a snowstorm. Plowing the streets becomes concern #1, and it's just safer with cars parked. Two, with enough snow, vehicles often can't be dug out fast enough and empty spots fill up with enough snow that it would take an enterprising motorist the better part of a day to shovel one out (and there are rules...oh lord, but there are rules!)
This past month, alternate side rules were suspended more days than is usual during an entire winter, including a complete suspension bridging from January 21 to this past Monday.
It's been a parking vacation, in other words: two weeks without running to your car, and moving your ass.
That stopped Monday. People are unpleased.
This is one time the people are idiots. The weather over the weekend was pretty nice: snow melted, ice cracked open, and there was plenty of opportunity to dig out cars. All over the boroughs, people were shoveling snow into gutters and down storm drains, and digging their cars out.
Needless to say, not everyone complied. A ticket blitz ensued to try to make up some of the $38 million spent on snow removal this past month. And so, the whining starts:
But not so fast. Alternate side parking rules went back into effect on Monday, and on that day alone the city wrote just shy of 10,000 tickets -- 9,910. That's nearly double the normal number of 5,460.

It's something that drivers like Karen Risch aren't too happy about. "For them to do it on the first day that alternate side is back in effect is not the most friendly position to take for people who live in the city," she said.
Memo to Karen and people like her: Grow up. Be a citizen.