Sunday, November 21, 2010

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

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 lone 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 celebrate 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. Yes, 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 combinations?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Alternate Side Parking Rules Transcend Religion. Or November 16 - 18 Alternate Side Suspended for Idul-Adha

I often joke that Alternate Side Parking suspensions promote a heartfelt appreciation for the city’s diverse religions, but as we approach the Muslim Holiday of Idul-Adha and enjoy the miracle of 3 days (Tue-Thur, 11/16 – 11/18) of not having to move our cars back and forth, how many of us actually know what this holiday commemorates? Maybe this is the silver lining of Alternate Side Parking Rules. In a time when religion is so divisive, Alt Side Rules can be the inspiration of not just appreciation, but of a sincere belief in the importance of other religions or at least religious observance that rises to the threshold of street sweeping suspension.
If you are skeptical, have you ever wondered, asked out loud, Googled what Idul-Fitr or Diwali (last Fri), or any holiday that spared you from going out into the rainy night (when no one seems to vacate their parking spaces), celebrates? Would you have bothered to find out what these three holy days mean otherwise?
Turns out Idul-Adha is the commemoration of the Old Testament story of Abraham. Abraham, because of his unconditional faith, sacrifices his own son at God’s request, but at the last minute is allowed to sacrifice a ram in his son’s place. And if this display of God’s mercy (except for the ram) doesn’t stop traffic for you, this story is actually shared by three of the world’s most contrary religions. The Jews, Christians and Muslims all celebrate the tale of Abraham. Does the fact that this week is the Muslim observance of the Abraham story make us drivers feel any less blessed?
Could it be that Alt Side is changing the way we see each other the only way life really can, with practical everyday experience, one suspended Alt Side Day at a time?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

City Council Considers Dramatic Changes in Alternate Side Parking Rules

This Tuesday (11/9) the City Council has three items on their agenda that could alter life with Alternate Side of the Street Parking as we know it. And if any of these proposed changes appeal to or concern you, you should write the city council, call your local representatives, spread the word, or somehow make your support (objections?) heard. If interested, the Find Your Council Member Page gives contact information for the Council Member of your district, and there is always the Contact the Mayor link on the right of this Blog.
(1) Int 0113-2010 A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to limiting the days that alternate side of the street parking is in effect in residentially zoned districts.
(2) Int 0287-2010 A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York in relation to reducing department of sanitation street cleaning days.
(3) Int 0375-2010 A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to allowing vehicles to park on the restricted side of a street which is subject to alternate side parking rules without being ticketed if the owner is in the vehicle and able to move it or if the street has already been cleaned.

Those of you who have heard my whines and complaints about Alternate Side Parking insanity may be surprised to know that I don’t favor the first two items above. Of course, (1) Limiting Alt Side in residential neighborhoods and/or (2) Limiting Alt Side everywhere sound like manna from Heaven, but lest we forget, Street Cleaning keeps our streets clean and, let’s face it, litter on our streets is the last major unsolved Quality of Life crime there is in this city. It’s the one social crime left that keeps New York from looking practically perfect. While many of us have successfully focussed past the amount of debris on our sidewalks and streets as we rush to wherever it is we have to be, anyone with small children or a dog experiences up close and personal our blossoming, low-lying, street waste.
And, keep in mind, rainwater flows from rooftops, sidewalks and streets to storm drains, and to our creeks, canals, and rivers. Street sweeping captures litter, sediment, and fallen leaves before they enter the storm drains protecting our waterways from these pollutants.
I also have little faith that, even if a reduction is put into effect, it would last for very long. As a great scientist somewhere told us, the DOT abhors a vacuum. Once Alt Side is discontinued on certain days, is it reasonable to think parking regulations in residential neighborhoods on these days will just stay vanished or will something else, something revenue producing, take its place. Muni Meters are a pretty easy install and the sign posts are already there.
Lastly, and I have mentioned this before in the Post "Parking Trends or Why We Need Alternate Side Parking," I believe, and I have very little evidence to prove it, that if Alt Side Rules are lessened, parking will become more difficult. Reasons for moving will be fewer and the open spaces it created will be harder to find. People will squat. Local residents may even organize the giving and taking of spaces that can be held for days at a time. An easing of Alternate Side Rules may even encourage more people to own cars.
The third (Int 0375-2010) seems like a no brainer, but, in this city, will still probably need your full support to get passed. As long as a driver is in the car and ready to move, of course, he or she should not be ticketed! The sign says No Parking NOT No Standing or No Stopping. The purpose of these laws is to enable street sweeping. Let’s revert to that more civilized way of life. It will be difficult to dispute a ticket based on the “already swept” defense, so get your cameras and cell phones ready. Still, just having this rule in the law will promote the writing of tickets for the purpose intended and should help make more reasonable ticket writing the norm. It may happen that a string of automobiles will trail and scatter behind a street sweeper like it is the Pied Piper or Johnny Appleseed of street parking but, of course, it may be.