City Council Parking Giveaway Will Bring More Gridlock

New Yorkers could spend a third of a million more hours a
year stuck in traffic if the “grace period” for parking violations voted
by the City Council
this week becomes law.

3672447574_f6f7a69255.jpgPhoto: @10/Flickr

That’s what the Balanced Transportation
Analyzer
traffic-pricing model calculates, based on an assumed 10 percent drop in
issuance of parking tickets. While no one knows just how many fewer tickets
will be issued (none of the 47 council members voting aye on Intro
907
offered a guess), the manifold repercussions for enforcement — a narrower time window,
greater complexity, general undermining of traffic agents — suggest that a one-tenth
drop isn’t unreasonable.

Worsened gridlock follows automatically from making curbside
parking cheaper. The lessened likelihood of being served a parking ticket can
be expected to draw more auto trips into Manhattan
and around town as well. The added congestion isn’t huge; most car trips not made are on account of other
factors, and only a tenth of all parking tickets are being assumed away. But the
impact will be visible.

Most of the estimated 334,000 hours lost, around 85 percent, will come from drivers outside the Manhattan Central Business District, putting an ironic stamp on
Council Member Tish James’ reminder to
the mayor
that his narrow re-election was “a call from average New Yorkers
for relief.”

Note: Readers who want
to check the analysis in the BTA should head to the Parking worksheet, a dozen tabs from the back.

  • JK

    For sure it’s stupid and will cause some traffic and confusion, but I doubt the meter grace period is going to make all that much of a difference in overall traffic or curb use. Here’s why. First, enforcement of overtime meter violations is already abysmal in much of the city. TA’s report on Columbus Ave plus spot surveying on Manhattan’s Upper West Side by Columbia grad students (unpublished) have found a third to a half of cars are at expired meters. I’ve seen the same thing when eyeballing meters in Astoria, Flushing, Ridgewood and Flatbush etc. (This is consistent with overtime violations in other big US cities.) Second, only a small portion of curb parking is metered. Motorists already spend huge amounts of time cruising for parking on free side streets. So, the grace period is a step in the wrong direction, but it’s going to add a drop of congestion in the ocean of cruising and delays caused by the current parking dysfunction.

  • I can’t believe that The City Council decided that messing with parking meter fees was the best way to give regular people a break. The idea that “average” New Yorkers are harmed more by parking tickets than traffic congestion is just nuts.

  • Moser

    The idea that people elected by a few thousand votes give a shit about the average New Yorker is equally nuts.

  • paco

    I’m against the grace period, but do think it sounds like great PR and know the average driver will appreciate it. People are often shortsighted and so they can only see the five minutes extra they can avoid a ticket, and not the thirty extra minutes stuck in traffic this policy will give them. Sometimes giving them these little nuggets of seeming goodwill perhaps will help the overall cause when they finally get around to bigger issues like east river tolls.

  • brent

    The biggest issue of all, imho, is that these pols are pandering, spineless cowards. NY faces immense traffic problems that require real work and immaginative solutions. Instead, the only thing these morons can work towards is to waste time on this populist giveaway. Its gross, really.
    The lesson here is that Quinn is an obstacle to positive solutions and it is never too soon to rally against her mayoral ambitions.

  • Is that 5 minutes start when I come to a full stop, or when I am on the sidewalk after locking the doors to my car, or when…?

  • The street sweeper has failed to clean my side of the block in Park Slope now for two consecutive weeks, and the street’s a mess. Because of the volume of leaves, they need to stop frequently to disgorge the accumulated debris.

    It’s bad enough that this was precipitated by the reduction in alternate-side periods from three hours to ninety minutes. Now we’re going to shave another five minutes off the time available to sweep the streets.

    Drivers, 1. Clean streets, 0.

  • MrManhattan

    I think we need a law that states if you get caught smoking a joint, you get a five minute grace period before a cop can issue you a ticket.

    It’s only fair.

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