Want a More ‘Civilized’ Parking Experience? Raise Meter Rates

A Times analysis of parking enforcement trends is raising the hackles of local pols, who see the rising number of citations as evidence supporting pet theories about traffic agent quotas:

City officials say their parking enforcement is not driven by revenue goals. But City Councilman Vincent J. Gentile said his district in southwest Brooklyn has been so overrun by traffic agents that it is hard to conclude otherwise.

"It’s a growing recognition that the city is using parking enforcement
as a means of revenue generation, not as a means of traffic management
or safety management," he said.

City Council Transportation Committee chair John Liu went so far as to issue a press release calling on the city to scale back parking enforcement:

Liu said he and his fellow Transportation Committee members have worked
to reduce unfair ticket writing, increase transparency in the world of
parking enforcement and make parking in the city "a more predictable
and civilized experience" through efforts like a bill that required DOT
to post on its Website all parking restrictions for each block.

Here’s another way to cut down on the number of citations for double-parking, blocking fire hydrants, and obstructing bus lanes: raise meter rates.

DOT is moving in this direction with its PARK Smart pilot program in Greenwich Village. Of course, higher meter rates would still raise revenue and depend on adequate enforcement to achieve the desired effect. This seems like a fair price to assess on vehicles that take up scarce public space and impose billions of dollars in costs on the population of New York. But if PARK Smart ramps up and expands to other parts of the city, will any New York pols be bold enough to recognize it as "civilized" parking practice, or will it, too, get branded as a cash cow?

  • Car Free Nation

    This weekend, I rented a car to see my son run at Van Cortland Park. I made it a point to try to follow every traffic law for the drive up from Brooklyn with my family. Who knew that the FDR drive had a 40 mph speed limit? Certainly nobody else driving paid any heed.

    I was unsuccessful at following the rules. I dropped everyone off at the park and parked far away at the first open spot I could find. When it was time to pick up the family (which included a very tired 3-year old) from the park, I looked for a legal spot, but all were filled. The only safe way to load the car was to double park.

    If we had a civilized system, there would be some empty slots, and I could pull in and pick up the kids. The current system practically forces people to break the law.

  • On a related note, Inspector Pilecki’s comments make it clear why so many drivers park on the sidewalk. It’s not a biggie.

  • Moser

    I think the important counter-factual here is what would the city look and function like if John Liu was in power as a lenient commissioner for parking enforcement?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “If we had a civilized system, there would be some empty slots, and I could pull in and pick up the kids. The current system practically forces people to break the law.”

    Anything free will be overused, creating a shortage, and here is the proof. I argued back when congestion pricing was introduced that instead of fees we have fines.

    Much of the lawbreaking — double parking to drop people off, parking at a hydrant or bus stop when there is no legal spot left in the neighborhood — is the result of trying to squeeze a gallon and a half into a gallon can. So instead of using fees to get the use of the can down to a gallon, we fine those who can’t squeeze in.

    The advantage of that choice? Those with placards don’t have to worry about being squeezed out, and also avoid paying.

  • @Car Free Nation well the point of raising meter rates is so you would allows be able to find a spot nearby.

  • James

    Car Free Nation, FYI, the issue with parking at Van Cortlandt Park is that the park is used extensively by high school and college track teams who often travel from out of state for cross country events. The teams’ tour buses park on Broadway and take up 4-5 parking spaces per bus, eliminating any hope of finding parking unless you get there before the buses arrive at 7am. I live across from the park and do own a car but I make sure to never use it on weekends because parking will not be available when I return. Also, Broadway does not have any meters at all from 242nd St to the city line. It’s not practical to meter this stretch as you’ll just end up fining school buses constantly (a political non-starter).

  • Rhywun

    But free parking is a god-given right! Free ponies, too.

    I live in SW Brooklyn and it’s evident why the streets are “so overrun by traffic agents”. The triple-parking all the way down Fourth Avenue might be a clue.

  • GR

    You guys make it sound like drivers are evil beings. Believe me, most of us would take mass transit if that was a choice. Unfortunately, where I live, there is no bus, subway, or ferry nearby. For some of us, carpooling is the only option. Please don’t paint drivers in a bad light. We are average New Yorkers sick and tired of being harassed by meter maids and the draconian parking laws of NYC that they shove down my throat. I thank god for Liu and other councilmembers who listens to constituents and their plights and come up with solutions to help this city. When express buses are made available for where I live, I would be the first to give up my car and do my share! Until then, thank god for my representatives in government!

  • Ian Turner

    Drivers are not evil, but driving in an urban environment is antisocial behavior that should be properly discouraged. GR, you complain about the absence of transit options that forces you to drive, but what I see is that you made a choice to live in a place with poor transit options. Having done so, carpooling may be your only option, but it’s you, not some external agency, that has limited your options in thus a way. Your choice has a significant negative impact on other people; all I am asking is that you should pay a price accordingly. Is that so unreasonable?

  • Rhywun

    Those “draconian parking laws” are there for several reasons. One is the fact that space is limited. Another is the fact that the streets have to be cleaned regularly. The problem is the cavalier attitude of drivers who assume (rightly, most of the time) that *they* won’t get caught. The city is at fault for *lax* enforcement which just leads to a lower quality of life for the rest of us who have to deal with reckless, careless drivers. Pols like Liu will say whatever makes their constituents (in his case, Queens drivers) happy. They say these things out of one side of their mouth but they know better than to advocate lax enforcement of sensible laws.

    PS. The idea of posting restrictions on a web site is a good one.

  • zach

    re: GR

    “When express buses are made available for where I live, I would be the first to give up my car and do my share!”

    Those express buses are only going to go as fast as you want them if we give them dedicated lanes or seriously reduce traffic. Either of these is accomplishable only by making life more difficult for drivers. I for one am a driver occasionally and a smoker occasionally, too, and I don’t think drivers or smokers are evil, and I would be horrified if we outlawed smoking or driving altogether, but I do think a high tax on tobacco and high parking rates/gas taxes/tolls are a good idea to encourage people to do it less.

    Government’s got to get money somehow. You’d rather they get it from your income taxes?

  • Kent Harwood

    Recipe for Gridlock
    by John Liu and other assorted morons in council

    Fight against higher meter rates, Sunday meters and more meters
    Complain about the lack of parking
    Complain about double parking and congestion.
    Demand more parking garages for your district.
    Complain about parking tickets.

  • My previous hometown, Newnan, GA, does not have any parking meters in the downtown areas. Granted, it’s a small town, but during the workday, the downtown parking is filled to capacity. The way they handle the parking situation is to put up 2-Hour Parking signs. Of course, everyone knows that people merely go move their car every two hours. I know this for a fact. They need to implement parking meters and give some of the revenue to the downtown district, so they will be on board.

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