Monday, March 29, 2010

5 Minutes of Grace!

          Now that we are all basking in the spiritual oasis of no Alternate Side, and have so much extra time on our hands (see post below), I would like to hear some comments about this new 5-minute grace period? It was announced last week that PVB police must allow 5-minutes to pass once a muni meter expires or an Alternate Side Parking regulation goes into effect before they write a ticket. That's five New York minutes to finish a casual conversation with a noisy neighbor before you sprint down the avenue, 5 minutes to chat with your masseuse before you refill the meter, or 5 minutes to finally get to the front of that deli line.
          Speaking as a New Yorker, I could use all the extra grace the city can afford, but I find myself agreeing with our slightly ruffled Mayor even though he called us whiners a few years back because we didn’t feel we should have to hack our cars out of the ice floes of the latest winter storm. Are we getting soft? Is it worth it to blur the lines that we’ve already been living with for so many years? I thought all these Alternative Sides were about street sweeping. Does the Dept. of Sanitation now have to recalculate these time shifts into all of their schedules to allow us our extra minutes of grace? Can they ticket us if we refuse to move when they try to sweep during our grace period? They better not try to sweep away our grace. It’s not like they always sweep as it is. What about the businesses who depend on metered parking to keep the squatters moving and a fresh succession of shoppers coming?
          In an online NY Times article, Council speaker, Christine Quinn is quoted as saying “Issuing someone a ticket just two or three minutes past the time alternate-side goes into effect or your Muni-Meter stub runs out is simply unfair,” She added: “Not everybody’s watch in the city of New York is set at the same time,” meaning that “11 a.m. on somebody’s watch could be 11:02 a.m. at a traffic agent or police officer’s watch.”
          It sounds reasonable enough. It’s an allowance for the differences in our watches. So how will it work. Let’s see 5 minutes is 1/12 of an hour or about the amount of our sales tax (Maybe it’s a tax rebate!). Suppose you have a busy avenue with 1 hour of Alternate Side regulation followed by 11 hours of Metered Parking with a 1 hour maximum. You get 5 minutes grace period for the beginning of the Alternate Side and it seems only logical that somebody’s watch could be wrong at the other end of the hour. So do we have to start the metered parking early or is it also 5 minutes of free parking on the far end of the Alternate Side hour? I don’t think the purpose of this new grace period was to extend parking meter rules so looks like we catch a second 5 minutes of grace on the Alternate Side rule and doesn’t that also mean that the metered parking starts at 5 minutes grace past the hour giving us a little 10-minute window-with-a-view between regulations?
          Either way we have a minimum of 2/12 or 10 minutes off the allotted street sweeping time. Then at least 1/12 off of the far end of each maximum hour of metered parking, or is it 5 minutes off each end of each allotted hour because someone’s end could be (is usually) someone else’s beginning… What if you have 30 people who each park for 20 minutes but only 26 of them are looking to allow some grace into their lives? You were right Mrs. Drake. Looks like I needed that math after all.
          So to sum up, 5 minutes off of both sides or one side of each hour for a minimum of 60 minutes or maximum of [# to be determined when algebra-ready daughter returns home] hours off of 12 hours parking regulations. To quote our Vice President, this legislation is really is a big deal. But is this really grace and isn’t street parking in this city already enough of a word problem? I mean there must 8 million watches in this city. They can’t all be wrong!


  1. I think the five minutes is more to tame the killer instincts of the parking police. A kinder, gentler police force.

  2. Tom
    Excellent post. Very thought provoking. Will 11:06 become the new 11:01? Maybe, but I come down on the side of the Grace Period Law is a good thing. Here's why:

    1. Important that the NYC driving public have a voice that is heard
    2. Small victories are good things
    3. If you can't get to your car with the help of an additional 5 minutes, apply for the reduction quietly

    I don't believe the five minute grace period will result in any substantive changes; but it cools off the conversation. We can shift our focus to the bad behavior of the parking ticket warriors in enforcing VC9

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