Late at night, in their Draconian castle, that is only visible when the fog lifts on the East River, the Master Magicians of the DOT are at work apparating time and space, mixing memory and desire, creating and destroying matter to determine those times where and when people can legally park. Those other times and places (we will not speak their name in this post) are better discussed with a therapist or an exorcist. Blessed as I am with the enviable task of poring over DOT Tables and Table entries of Parking regulations for Manhattan, occasionally I awake to catch an early glimpse of their dark deeds. But this latest is the most eye opening yet.
Somewhere in the southern hemisphere of the East Side, Alternate Side Parking Regulations are being partially lifted. Huh? Yes, On at least First Avenue, a number of blocks that were formerly Mon – Fri a half hour of No Parking For Street Sweeping followed by 10 or so hours of Metered Parking are losing their Street Sweeping Rules, so that only the Metered Parking is left. That’s good news, right? Now we can park on those block for longer stretches. No longer do we have to clear out for a measly half hour of sometimes ON, sometimes OFF street cleaning. Hurray! Yahoo! (Google?)
That’s it then. It’s good news and we can all wander off to some other Blog for a while or step outside for some of those last rays of summer. Or is it? Not so fast DOT! What are you up to? I hate to be that suspicious New Yorker, always looking for the ambush, the sweet tasting poison, the other shoe (parking sign) to drop, but parking in this city has sharpened my animal instincts and I have both preyed upon the slower moving and been swallowed whole by this whale of a city along with hundreds of others in one bite. So when that raspy, dark magic voice on my left shoulder says to me “It’s a trap! “Why would they lift street sweeping parking hours that are already well established in the neighborhood?” “Did anyone announce they were cutting back street sweeping?” “Or a new bike path?” “Just what are they up to now?” I tend to listen.
How can they sweep if there is not a time that all cars are required to vacate? Do the Einsteinian and Bloombergian quantum relativity theory of probabilities prove conclusively that those sections on the West Side of First Avenue will be free often enough for sweeping anyway? Do the forces of gravity and erosion cause rainfall to naturally scrub this avenue on its way to supplying the city’s most magnificent fountains, not to mention forging nearby mountain streams and lakes? Is there a secret and ancient feud between the East and West Sides of First Avenue and this the latest and most insidious assault yet? But hey, what do we care about having clean streets or the cool cats who after 60 or so years of litter laws (or 40 years of Earth Days) still throw their garbage at your and my feet. This means relaxed parking restrictions and the Hell with the rest! Right?
“Be careful what you wish for.” says the brainy siren’s voice on my right shoulder. “WhatsHisName on the other side of this pointy rock you call a head likes to complain about constant Alternate Side shifting and ticket agents stalking, but the truth is we who have the privilege to park on this great city’s streets need Sanitation Restricted Parking. If we didn’t have it, there would not be enough movement and enough freeing up of parking spaces for those of us who dared to take our cars anywhere.”
She’s right (and pretty too!). A whole lot of us would be happy to leave our cars where they are until a really worthy night out or inner city happening comes up. (If you are commuting in your car, my sympathies.) The necessity of moving our cars every day makes the use of our cars at least a reasonable throw of the dice, actually increases the chances that we will use our car. Just consider last week’s string of suspended Alt Side Days. Did you decide against taking your car just once because it was good for tomorrow? If you still don’t believe me ask yourself this: have you ever uttered the phrase, “I have to move my car anyway, so I can… drop you off, pick you up, stop in at, or [your phrase here]? “
If we never had to move our cars for Street Sweeping, competition would be more fierce. There would be Squatters and Street Parking Barons, Haves and Have Nots. Prime spaces would become more prime because we would stay in them longer. We would have to curry favor with the local Parking Bosses before we set off on that weekend getaway. And we would have dirtier streets. So let’s all give a moment of thanks for Alternate Side Parking.Hip Hip Hooray! Yahoo! (Google!)