Sweeping Changes to Alternate Side Parking in NYC?

(Flickr; Jon Sobel)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) A New York City council member wants to legitimize a de-facto parking practice that has been going on for decades: ending alternate side parking restrictions as soon as a street is cleaned not when the time period on the sign (see example above) ends. This would let city parkers leave their cars unguarded hours earlier without fear of being ticketed.

I see it on my block every day (well, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday): drivers double park, leaving the side of the street scheduled to be cleaned empty. Some wait in their cars, some leave notes on their windshields with their cell numbers and go about their business. But one thing is certain: when the sweeper truck passes by, drivers immediately jump in their cars and then park back on the other side of the street. (And many of them sit in their cars to run out the clock while keeping their engines idling, presumably to run heat or a/c.)

City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (10th District; Democrat) refers to this in a press release as an "ALTERNATE SIDE DISASTER."

Speaking at a press conference, Rodriguez, who represents Northern Manhattan, said the point of his legislation is not to make driving more attractive. Rather it is a much-needed "parking reform" designed to make life easier for people who already own a car.

New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez unveils his legislation

“The current state of parking enforcement violates the original intention of alternate side parking – it is for the purposes of street cleaning, not raising revenue or making it more difficult to have cars in the city. The current inflexible and insensible state of alternate side parking regulations are causing undue hardship for working and middle class families who need to juggle competing priorities of family, work, and other responsibilities – none of which should have to include circling the blocks for three hours twice a week waiting for their parking spot to be open again.”

The parking space scramble has its victims: last year, a little girl was seriously injured on the Upper East Side after a Ford Bronco drove backwards down the street in search of a parking space.

Rodriguez's bill is sure to delight city drivers, many of whom probably already love him: a former taxi driver himself, he helped squash a plan to place tolls on bridges in Northern Manhattan. And earlier this year he accused the NYPD of harassment for ticketing drivers who block intersections in his district.

One question that has come up is the issue of enforcement. NY1 reports that "The Sanitation Department is reviewing the bill, but a spokesman says the proposal brings logistical issues, namely that parking agents have no way of knowing if a cleaning crew has come through when they arrive on a block during the designated alternate-side time."

The bill currently has 16 co-sponsors. The City Council's Transportation Committee will debate it on Tuesday, November 9th at 10am.