DOT Study Measures Lower Manhattan Placard Abuse

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A Department of Transportation study released Friday shows just how out of control placard parking is in Manhattan.

The 187-page report [PDF], accompanied by some 223 pages of maps, was undertaken to assess "how placards are used in Lower Manhattan," and to determine if placard users are taking up more space than is allotted for them. The results should come as no surprise.

Key findings include:

  • Curb parking spaces in Lower Manhattan are highly utilized, with 93% of all legal on-street
    parking spaces in Lower Manhattan occupied during the peak hours (9AM-5PM).
  • Vehicles with agency and law enforcement permits, when combined with marked official
    vehicles (e.g., police cruisers, DOT bucket trucks), are a large share of the vehicles
    parked on-street, comprising 43% of vehicle-hours from 9AM-5PM. Law Enforcement
    placards are the major component of these vehicles (23% of all vehicle-hours). (A vehicle-hour is one vehicle parking for one hour. Thus, a vehicle that parks for three hours uses
    three vehicle-hours.)
  • Nearly 1 in 8 permitted vehicles were illegally parked at a bus stop, crosswalk, fire hydrant,
    driveway, or were double-parked.
  • Placards displayed by 9% of all agency and law enforcement permitted vehicles were
    deemed to be inauthentic or illegitimate in some way.

  • Vehicles with agency and law enforcement permits use more of the parking supply than is
    allocated to them, occupying 49% more spaces than are allocated to them during the
    hours of 9AM-5PM.
  • Vehicles with permits take space away from other designated uses such as curb space for
    commercial vehicles – 22% of loading zone spaces were removed from the commercial
    supply due to permitted vehicles parking in those spaces.
  • Similarly, 18% of metered spaces were removed from the general public’s supply due to
    permitted vehicles parking in those spaces.
  • Permitted vehicles park for longer periods, on average, than other vehicles, thus
    consuming disproportionately more space hours. Agency and law enforcement permits
    park on average for 4.0 hours compared with 2.7 hours for privately owned vehicles.
  • 42% of agency business permits park outside of their dedicated parking supply for more
    than three hours, which is in violation of their permit.
  • Over the course of a typical day (9AM-5PM) over 3,300 vehicles in Lower Manhattan
    display an LE permit, resulting in nearly 14,000 vehicle hours. This represents almost
    one-quarter of the total observed vehicle-hours in Lower Manhattan.
  • The peak demand for agency and law enforcement permits is 5,805 and 13,494 vehicle-
    hours respectively, while their peak supply is only 7,052 and 5,937 space-hours,
    respectively. Therefore, while agency permits are technically parking within their allocated
    supply, vehicles with law enforcement permits use 127% more space hours than are
    designated for them from 9AM-5PM. This may indicate that the space allotment for law
    enforcement is not sufficient for its needs during those hours.

Data for the study was collected from September through November of 2006. 

Continuing its coverage of the placard abuse epidemic, the Times has a nice summary of the report, pointing out that the "biggest contributors to the parking crunch were vehicles with law
enforcement placards" — which "are also the most likely to park
in an unsafe way."

Among the nearly 700 vehicles
with placards that were spotted parked in crosswalks or at hydrants,
double-parked or parked in other hazardous ways, more than half
belonged to law enforcement.

And check out the guy who pays someone to drive his SUV around all day so he won’t get a parking ticket. 

  • Larry Littlefield

    Says it all.

    There are the placard people.

    There are the black car people.

    The rest of us are not people. We are certainly not the “middle class” regardless of our income.

  • Jones

    FYI – The best way to ensure a study is not read by the public is to make it 400 pages long and release on a Friday afternoon the week of a major sex scandal. Way to bury this one!

  • lower manhattan

    From the report, I couldn’t see if they made any attempt to determine if the legitimate placards were actually being used for legitimate reasons. E.g.,how many of the law enforcement/agency placards were being used by friends and relatives to shop at Century 21? How many of the handicapped cars were being used by the handicapped person? I’d also like to see an inventory of off-street parking that was available at the time so we can quantify the hidden cost to the public of 1) placard-abusers not paying for parking, and 2) the burden borne by the general public forced to use garages because there is no turnover on the street.

    I will be surprised if commercial interests don’t sue the city for the damages to their businesses that are the result of this (including tickets for double parking).

  • Bobby G

    Lower Manhattan, in response to your comment, I agree it would be very interesting to see that. I imagine, however, that it would be hard to quantify that while in the field. I have some experience with field surveys, and at some point you have to limit the number of parameters being sought. It is clear that this was an extremely robust study covering a wide area, and trying to obtain such detailed information about each vehicle would likely prove quite difficult. Pretty good study and report, I thought, however your point is well-taken.

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