Nature’s Parking Turnover Calculator


Since the theme of the week is snowy streets and what we can learn from them, I thought I would share this photo of snow-covered windshields I took this morning on Park Place in Prospect Heights. The last significant snowfall came down during the wee hours of Wednesday morning, so these cars clearly have not moved since Tuesday at the latest, and in all likelihood have been immobile since before the Monday snow storm. Alternate side parking has been suspended the whole week, after all.

It’s good that the owners of these cars decided not to venture forth and drive this week. But I would estimate that about a quarter of all the cars on Park Place looked like this today. That’s a whole lot of prime real estate for stuff that’s just sitting around.

The curb is probably the most contentious space of all on NYC streets. To daylight intersections so people can walk across safely, you need to claim some curb space. To build the best bikeways or speed up surface transit, you often need the curb lane. But take away a few parking spots, and you’ll have a fierce fight on your hands. Even though, as the snow is telling us, a lot of people who park for free don’t need to use their cars very much at all.

  • valar84

    Personally, I don’t think the curb should be for parking at all. I’d be much more comfortable in a city that allowed on-street parking only for short-term parking and towed the cars of owners who take the public street for their own private driveway. I know some new urbanists like on-street parking a lot as a traffic-calming measure, and it is effective at that… but on-street parking is required as a traffic-calming measure only because the streets are way too wide to start with, and the streets are built way too wide in order to provide on-street parking, so it’s a circular argument.

    If people want parking for their cars, let them find some place on their property for it, or let them buy housing to replace them with garages they have to pay to purchase, build and maintain. And if they’re not ready to do that, then they shouldn’t own cars to start with. And with the freed curb space, make sidewalks wider or plant trees or make bike lanes. Reclaim the street for everyone, not just for cars.

    I find it a sad demonstration of our priorities when cities and local governments think that they have a greater responsibility to provide parking to cars than housing to people. A parkingless car is unacceptable, a homeless person is tolerable.

  • s

    Snow on a seat that hasn’t been touched = evidence that no one has sat down/evidence of low ridership.

    Use any measure you want: paint, flour, dust, whatever. If you walked onto a train and saw that it hadn’t been disturbed you could safely assume that no one had ridden the train in a while.

  • Joe Enoch

    Well said! Think of how beautiful our streets would be if we could dedicate all that parking space to trees and walkable/bikable living space. let’s be honest, cars are a leaky, smelly, noisy (even when parked sometimes) eyesore.

    As always, I think back on my time in Amsterdam where most of the inner city streets simply had no room for parking. It made it such a clean, beautiful streetscape. It also made it safer to cross as you aren’t obstructed by giant SUVs.

  • 5 1/2 days after storm (including a weekend) and still #snovered in Jackson Heights.

  • Another angle:

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    Isn’t it true that until after WW2 you weren’t allowed to park on the street overnight? Every car needed a private home. We should go back to the good old days with that law.

  • valar84

    I have heard the same thing. I found a blog that claimed to tell the story of how the overnight parking ban broke down, I don’t know exactly how correct it is:

  • Cold Shoaler

    How exactly does suspending ASP rules “facilitate snow removal” as the DOT always asserts? Seems to me that it does exactly the oposite of that.

  • Guest

    And that indicates what, exactly, as a comparison for cars that are normally crush-loaded during rush hour???

  • Andrew

    I’m all for people who work long, odd hours getting enhanced parking privileges

    I’m not. Why should they be compensated in a form of use only to people who own cars and choose to drive them to work? Compensate them with cash, which they can use to pay for garage parking (if they drive) or for whatever else they like (if they don’t drive).

  • Guest

    By that same “logic,” if a car drove down the street once and left tire tracks, it’s all good. We should just ignore all the parked cars with the snow on them. You can’t have it both ways… Your comparison just doesn’t work.

  • Alex

    I’ve repeatedly said the same thing. I grew up in Erie, PA, a town that doesn’t bat an eye for anything less than a foot of snow. There, they actually become more stringent about ASP rules, banning parking on one side of the street on alternating days from November through April so they CAN plow them effectively. I tweeted the DOT and Sanitation Dept asking this question and they said it’s because they have to wait for a thaw to scrape everything up cleanly. A pretty flimsy argument if you ask me. It’s because the city bows down to car owners who don’t want to bother shoveling their vehicles out. At least we don’t have “dibs” here.

  • afk

    I had always thought it wasn’t to facilitate snow removal so much as not encourage people to drive around when road conditions are dangerous. Given how poorly some people are at driving in the snow I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

  • Alex

    There’s also a phenomenon where people seem to think they can leave their car halfway out into the street when it snows in NYC. Cars angled into spots with the front or rear bumper protruding well out into the street are commonplace as are cars backed up onto sidewalks. I’m assuming this is so they don’t get stuck, but it’s crap. We’ve also had a car with NJ plates parking directly in front of the hydrant outside of our building this week. Not OK.

    Also, I have to agree with Andrew. Only in very special circumstances should anyone get enhanced parking privileges. In fact, abuse of city parking permits is a known issue that leads to many city employees driving into Manhattan when they could easily take the train, precisely because they get a free spot.

  • Alex

    I’d buy that if it was only for the first day after snowfall ends, but it seems to last for 3 or more days in most cases.

  • KillMoto

    I think the point of this article is the possibility that some of the cars semi-permanently parked during a snowy week are semi-permenantly parked… always.

    That’s different from low ridership on a specific snow day.

  • KillMoto

    I’ve never seen an owner of a semi-permnently parked bike turn up at a community meeting to protest proven, common sense street safety improvements due to perceived loss of bike parking spaces, so…



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