Sunday, August 3, 2014

Parking Scofflaws We Hate (a never ending series)



Why can't we just all learn to share?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Parking Sign Language (revisited)

OK, what is the deal with hand signals? I’m not talking about left turn, right turn types of signals that have become obsolete unless you are limping home with a broken blinker system or just like attention from the NYPD. I’m talking about when you’ve returned from a long weekend and a long drive and have been cruising your neighborhood for a half hour for a parking space, you are driving down a block and, “Eureka!” you spot someone getting into their car. You pull up and, unless you just like to hover and idle your engine for long periods of time, and assuming it is not your teenage daughter and her boyfriend in the car, you query the person on whether they are actually leaving. Those hand signals.
I know we are a multiethnic, multi religious, rainbow colored, many peopled melting pot in the making and in New York so much of it works most of the time. But this brave new experiment has not enabled us to come to an agreement on something as simple as some kind of universal hand signals for leaving/not leaving a parking space. I’ve seen hands going up, hands going down, palms upturned, middle finger extended, hands shooing, fingers fluttering, fingers (or finger) wagging, or nothing at all behind tinted windows so dark that you start to wonder if it wasn’t them who pulled up alongside you. The very same gestures can mean opposite things depending on who is giving them or who is receiving them.
Hand signals are important because we often drive with windows closed, very few drivers are legally blind and can understand visual cues, they are quick and do not require us to have a whole conversation or come to a full stop even. No one wants to hover fruitlessly only to let the row of Sharks (see 5-8-10 post) behind you all pass you by relegating you to the back of the line. So, a quick answer to the obvious question is a useful thing.
Thus, I have conducted a very scientifically extensive, double blind, triple axel (with a twist), 4 wheeled survey of my peers and am proposing a universal set of hand/head signals to indicate your current claim to that parking space where you are squatting.

Photobucket
Courtesy of http://funnyanimatedgifs.net


The nod (smile optional) would be the YES I AM LEAVING and this can include any other message or range of emotions you like, because this news is so good, we are prepared to endure it all knowing we will soon be home and at rest to enjoy a favorite movie or talk to our family or friends. For you more athletic types a thumbs up can sometimes be substituted.

PhotobucketCourtesy of http://www.feebleminds-gifs.com

Holding up 5 fingers to indicate 5 minutes or 10 fingers to indicate 10 minutes. All longer units of time up to and over one hour are not understood to be included in either of these signals. When someone once pointed out a New York minute is about half of everybody else’s, they were obviously talking about a driver waiting for a parking space so please do not abuse this signal. If you are just waiting in your vehicle, and are possessed of divine compassion, you might consider vacating the space and waiting double parked.

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Courtesy of http://img150.echo.cx/

In addition to its all important, NO, I AM NOT MOVING primary meaning, the wagging of the index finger to the left and right can also be understood to include an entire rainbow of emotions from “So sorry!” to “Just got here.” to “Can’t I just get a little shut eye without people disturbing me?” I think we owe a debt of gratitude to our Latino parkers here as the wagging finger is a favorite among Hispanic drivers I have seen, and, even though it may make some of us feel like we are misbehaving in class, it seems to be the simplest and easiest understood of hand signals.

Last, but not least. If a driver gets into his or her parked car, but will not answer or even acknowledge your query, maybe won’t even look at you, move on. They have much greater troubles than you.

Please feel free to offer your own suggestions.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Parking Sensors To Show Available Spaces, Huh?


OK, I admit I haven't read very much about this parking sensor program in the Bronx, because honestly, I can't imagine a weirder way to spend taxpayer time and money. But the program has been officially announced on the DOT web site and is coming up in the news more, so I suppose I'll have to research the matter someday.
What is this grand experiment of which I speak? Well, once upon a time, along portions of Arthur Avenue and East 187th Street in the Bronx, electronic sensors were installed in the pavement beneath metered parking spaces. These sensors detect when a car has pulled away from its location. When a car leaves, a signal is sent to a receiving station and that signal is represented on a map as a block with a potential parking space. This map is published on the DOT web site for all to see. A Mobile App is soon to follow. And that is how every boy and girl in this city will one day be able to find a parking space.
I don’t know about test audiences in obscure areas of the Bronx, but in the places I park in this wonderful city, parking spaces appear and disappear in a New York Minute. Anyone who has parked extensively in the city will recognize the “Lion” method of parking as dubbed in this blog which is to wait on a particular block until a space becomes available. Needless to say, there can be more than one Lion on a block at a particular time and even when a space opens up right in front of you, you don’t always get it, either because of another Lion who anticipated faster or just a lucky Shark that happened to be cruising at the exact moment a person signaled his car doors to open. So, in most cases, the appearance on a map of a freed parking space, while a truly immaculate event, probably won’t mean much by the time you get there which, of course, will return you to consult the map again to see what other neighborhood blocks have freed up spaces. So you might have to drive around a bit to find a parking space...
Last I heard the New York State legislature (and most other state legislatures as well) has determined that texting while driving increases the likelihood of accidents. That is why in New York State texting, (which requires looking at your mobile phone) while driving is illegal and considered highly dangerous. How will looking at a map on that same phone for an indication of a parking space differ, especially when that parking space will likely be gone by the time you get there?
In fact, it seems like a handy tool like this will make it more likely that more drivers will be converging on a block with an open parking space than would have otherwise. So maybe as more and more people use this service, the wisest (and safest) thing might be to go to blocks that don’t indicate available parking. This is New York. Chances are someone will be leaving eventually and you won’t have to compete with all those other drivers staring into their mobile phones. Plus, I don’t know about you, but parking is competitive enough in this city and won’t even more people than ever consider parking in the city because they see some open spaces on a map and believe that parking is readily available?

The following excerpts of the DOT announcement set off a few alarms with me. What do you think?

“The real-time parking map, now available on the Department of Transportation’s website and on Streetline’s Parker smartphone app later this spring, uses state-of-the-art sensors installed last year at no cost to the city in the roadbed”

Obvious red flag: it's being installed and facilitated by a for-profit company. Make no mistake, certain aspects of this program may be provided by outside interests, but something like this could never be implemented without considerable time and effort by the DOT, their data analysts, traffic managers, permit offices, etc., etc. So what is driving this unusual collaboration? A for-profit company is probably not doing this soley for the public good. Or are they? At least it’s safe to assume the DOT is into this purely for the sake of facilitating easier parking about which Mayor Bloomberg has always been so sympathetic. Don’t you agree?

“Interested motorists can sign up for the service for free on the PayByPhone website and register their license plate numbers and credit card information on encrypted servers and download the PayByPhone app.”

Because we know that a database of exactly where your car has been and where your credit cards and smart phones have been used is not information that could be accumulated and disseminated (bought and sold?) or used against you in any way.

“The app, payment processing and customer service will be provided by PayByPhone, the bidder chosen by the Department of Transportation following a 2011 request for proposals, and the service comes at no taxpayer cost.”

No cost at all because the start up costs, software development, network server time, encryption and PCI compliance, not to mention the design, manufacture, installation and maintenance of a complex, outdoor sensor system , and mapping of this information in some user recognizable format are being donated by the kindness of the for-profit company’s hearts.

I’m not saying a system like this wouldn’t work in a town like Goshen, New York (pop. 13,687) or that, assuming this map could be part of your onboard navigation system and spaces could be reserved until you got there, and that everyone else using it or not using it would respect the rules of reserved parking, but right now, biased or not, in New York city I still prefer my own parallelspaces Parking Map.

Whatever their professed promises for this program like ease of parking or simpler mobile paying, you can bet it's about making money: money for private business that are installing and maintaining the sensor and payment systems and more parking revenues for the city from car owners already besieged by high registration and insurance costs, not to mention inflated inspection and repair and wear and tear expenses that all go with having a car in the city.

just sayin...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Alt Side Parking Oasis Ahead


Yes! It's that time again when religious observance drives away the many headed NYC Dept of Finance parking Furies to their nether world and we on the surface get to see how the other half of the country lives. We can move them, but maybe we choose not to.

Thanks to Judeo-Christian traditions we (technically) don't have to move our cars for almost two (2) weeks.

Our prayers do work!



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Parking Scofflaws We Hate (a never ending series)

As lamented in this blog before, some parking scofflaws don't add to the city's coffers one bit and so don't garner the attention of the armed posses of collection tow truck drivers roaming our streets. But these drivers do irk many of us more,  especially after a half hour of looking, waiting, roaming, talking to yourself and other long departed passengers.

For example:
Oink Oink!


Sunday, December 29, 2013