Alternate Side

Transportation Nation

Alternate Side Parking Rules Lead To More Driving: Study

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Alternate side parking sign in Manhattan (photo by Kate Hinds)

Alternate side parking rules -- put in place to facilitate street cleaning -- actually increase driving in the New York City area.

In a soon-to-be-published study looking at driving behavior in places affected by street cleaning rules, a pair of New York University researchers found that alternate side parking (ASP) increases car usage in the New York City region by an average of 7.1 percent.

"Residents may simply make a new trip by car, to work, to school, or elsewhere, that they would otherwise not make, were street cleaning not performed on that day," reports the study, entitled "Duet of the Commons: The Impact of Street Cleaning on Car Usage in New York."

This, despite the fact that the costs of driving in New York can be  astronomically high-- drivers may need to pay for tolls and parking, and almost universally have to deal with traffic congestion and irate drivers.

But like many things New York, location is everything. In denser neighborhoods that are closer to the urban core, car-owning residents are more likely to drive on days when the rules are in effect. But in places further afield -- like in outer boroughs where residents have more access to off-street parking options  -- ASP actually leads to a decrease in car usage on the days the rules are in effect.

Guo found that surprising. "It seemed there should be no impact at all," he said. But when he dug a little deeper -- which meant, in part, that he scrutinized driveways and garages on Google Street View -- he discovered some compelling reasons to leave the car in the driveway once you get it in there.

"Many of the garages are actually very narrow, not facing the street," he said. Moreover, driveways in single-family detached houses in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx are often very narrow. Translation:  once you maneuver a car into the driveway or garage, said Guo, "it's very difficult for you to get the car out and use it again." The cars, he said, are effectively trapped -- and you only take them out for a good reason.

But he pointed out that that applies to only a small percentage of New York City car owners, as the majority don't have access to off-street parking, so the net effect is an increase in driving on alternate side days.

Legislation targeting alternate side -- a bête noire of New York City drivers -- is a perennial political staple.  In 2011, the New York City Council passed a bill that would give each community board the chance to opt out of alternate side parking one day a week — but only if that neighborhood had at least a 90 percent rating on street cleanliness in the mayor's management report two years in a row. And earlier this year the Council passed a bill outlawing the city's "shame stickers" that the Department of Sanitation used to adhere to cars flouting alternate side.

Guo says his study found that if neighborhoods that can reduce ASP rules do reduce them, there could be a reduction of almost three percent in the number of car trips.

"Streets belong to all New Yorkers," he said -- not just car owners. "It's a public space... it's a public treasure. And now only people who have cars actually benefit from that property. So there's a social equity problem here. So by reducing street cleaning, "you're basically assigning more user rights to car owners."

"The Duet of the Commons: The Impact of Street Cleaning on Car Usage in New York" will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Planning Education and Research.





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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Toyota's Electronics Cleared, US News Ranks Top Public Transpo Cities, and DC Metro Escalators: Not Improving

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Portland--the winning city, according to US News (photo by Thad Roan via Wikimedia Commons)

US News and World Reports has ranked what it says are the ten best cities in the country for public transportation, ridership, and safety. (List here.)

The federal investigation into Toyota says that electronics aren't to blame for its sudden acceleration problem. (Christian Science Monitor)

The Ohio Department of Transportation is rescinding a three-year, $150 million funding pledge to Ohio's public-transit agencies that the former made in the waning days of last fall's campaign. Instead, the state plans to share $80 million in federal transportation funding with 59 local transit authorities through 2013. (Columbus Dispatch)

Metro's 588 escalators are breaking down with greater frequency - once every seven to eight days, on average - and repairs are taking longer than in past years. (Washington Post)

The Transportation Security Administration has told members of Congress that more than 15 million passengers received full-body scans at airports without any malfunctions that put travelers at risk of an excessive radiation dose. Now, the TSA has yet to release radiation inspection reports for its X-ray equipment — two months after lawmakers called for them to be made public. (USA Today)

The Infra Blog looks at yesterday's high-speed rail announcement in light of Florida Gov. Scott's recent budget address. "Over the last few years,' the Governor said, "Florida accepted one-time hand-outs from the federal government. Those temporary resources allowed state and local governments to spend beyond their means. There was never any reason to think that Florida taxpayers could afford to continue that higher level of spending once the federal hand-outs are gone. The false expectations created by the federal hand-outs are the reason we hear about a multi-billion dollar deficit."

Bicycles won't have to be registered in Long Beach any longer after the City Council voted Tuesday to end the requirement. (Contra Costa Times)

In New York, it's blizzarding...parking tickets, as alternate side rules have resumed. "The city issued 9,910 summonses on Monday, twice the daily average, to people who did not move their vehicles by the designated time." (New York Times)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: The president's $53 billion high-speed rail problem inspires cheers and jeers -- and raises questions. Houston's METRO is looking at expanding out to the suburbs. And in San Francisco, a new bike data app shows that the increase in accidents is outpacing the increase in cyclists.

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Transportation Nation

Sweeping Changes to Alternate Side Parking in NYC?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

(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."

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