Sunday, March 1, 2015

Alt Side Is Suspended Tomorrow Mon. (3/2) and I Don’t Have to Move My Car until Next Weekend.

Don’t know about you but I love the snow and cold of this Winter. Because the city is so pretty in the fresh snow? Uh, kind of, but mostly because thanks to all the Alternate Side Parking suspensions I only have had to move my car a couple of times for over a month and probably could have gone longer if I hadn’t needed to use it. Now, my car is on the north side of the street (good for Tuesdays and Fridays on the UWS) and Alt Side Parking is suspended Mon (Snow Day) and Thur (Purim) so I do not have to move it or even think about moving it until the weekend. It goes like this.
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri
Suspended Correct Side Not In Effect Suspended Correct Side
Meanwhile, with more snow on the way, none of us may have to move the car this week, but if you are on the Tue/Fri side you can stop thinking about it right now (at least for this week).

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Great Parking Sign Redesign

Most of us who park in this city have had a chance to see the parking signs redesign that started last year. Slowly the familiar signs are being replaced by something a little newer, a little cleaner, its look a little more modern.

The Old and the New

True the old signs are wearing, and something more closely resembling New York Fun World, the ultimate tourist destination is worth the enormous price of orders generated, raw materials expended, signs manufactured, work crews dispersed, not to mention the inevitable repairs and fixes, etc, right? But I personally am not loving this new design enough to justify the huge expense and if New York really dreams of being a tourist mecca where pedestrians are safe, traffic is systematically choked off our streets and people of all nationalities will actually understand our traffic rules, then why not use a parking signage that is immediately understood across all languages. Something international and intuitive. Like for a simple Alternate Side parking Sign:

Read it as a sweep of the hour hand.
Ok, I admit this is my design, my solution for simplifying parking rules in a city where understanding where to park is worse than a word problem. And it works very well for our parking map app, but by itself is probably not enough. So how about this:

Offered at a low low price

It is immediately understandable, universal in its appeal and also speaks in plain English in case you didn’t get it the first time.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Give THANKS for Thursdays or 5-3-5-4

This Thanksgiving Alternate Side Parking is suspended for one-day-only.  Now everyone knows Thursdays are lucky days, but do you know why? Is it because the weekend is almost here? Is it because it was named after the planet Jupiter, the King of the Gods? Even more impressive than these, it’s because Thursdays that are one-day-only Alternate Side Parking Suspended Days have the longest stretch of days possible without the required moving of your car. I know those of you who have to take your car out every day wince when you hear from us who only take the car out for recreation or for transporting in-laws out of town, but we also pay New York City’s higher registration fees, taxes, inspection and insurance, not to mention suffer the whims of the DOT, the PVB, up the WXYZ. So we have to give thanks when Monday we can move the car to the Tue/Fri side and not think about moving it again until next Mon.
Now some may say “OK, sounds lucky,” but what is the 5-3-5-4 in the title? The combination to your gym locker that you keep forgetting, the latest college football genius defense on show this Thanksgiving weekend, or the rest of that girl’s telephone number that rubbed off? None of these.
It is the results of the very sophisticated, very state of the art Best Alternate Side Suspended Days Test Formula Numbers Array! Hey, we take parking pretty seriously. Of course, it’s a little too complicated for those of you without an engineering degree, but I can explain it to you laymen (and laywomen) something like this.
Start with the Mon, Tue, Thur., or Fri (Typical Alternate Side Days) just previous to the single suspended day you want to test. Then count the days until your car will no longer be legally parked. For example, this Thursday Street Sweeping is suspended for Thanksgiving. So once you move the car to the Tue side, you don’t have to move it for Wed (1), Thur (2), Fri (3), Sat (4) and Sun (5). That rates a Thur Only Suspended Day as a 5. Tue Only Suspended Days are a 3 and Fridays a 4. While it’s true Mondays are also a 5, the tiebreaker is long weekends almost always involve taking the car somewhere. True, just about all of us will take the car somewhere for Thanksgiving, but think last Veterans Day (11/11) and you get my point.
So Thursdays are officially crowned King of the Alternate Side Suspended Days and we thank the King of the Gods for it!
But that’s for single days. What about Alternate Side Suspended combinations? Well if you've been watching you just saw a 16 day stretch in October. Not too shabby.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Alternate Side Parking Suspended in NYC October 3d to October 19th

Ladies and Gentlemen, turn off your engines. That’s right. Starting October 3rd through the 19th you can turn off that motor and leave it off for weeks, if you want to. Thanks to a blessed lineup of religious and holiday street sweeping suspensions (even including the major Muslim holiday of Idul-Adha), from October 3rd to the 19th Alternate Side Parking is going into remission. Just park on the Tue side of the street and, in most residential neighborhoods, you won’t have to move that car for street sweeping for up to 16 days.

This calendar helps make it a little clearer:

Sick and tired of moving your car from side to side for daily street sweeping? Caught by surprise by the end of Summer?  Now for the good news: Park on the Tue side of the street by October 3 and you don’t have to step on that gas, burn that exhaust, or leave that parking space on the Tue side of the street for over two weeks… unless you just feel like it!

Oh, and just to show you we're not kidding. Alternate Side Parking is also suspended tomorrow (Thur) and Friday 9/25-9/26 for the Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

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.

Courtesy of

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

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.

Courtesy of

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...