Learn the rules before parking in NYC
Would you take an important exam without studying? How about playing against the New England Patriots without a game plan? Or, searching for buried treasure without a map? Benjamin Franklin made a great point when he said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Yet, why do so many drivers park in NYC without learning the basic rules?
I’m not suggesting that you spend a crazy amount of time reading all the parking laws, rules, and regulations. But, at least learn the basic, recurring challenges you will meet parking in NYC.
Parking in NYC questionnaire
- How long is a bus stop?
- How close to a fire hydrant can I park?
- How much curb space does one parking sign regulate?
- What is the 5-Minute Grace Period?
- What is a safety zone?
- Can I park at school during a school vacation?
- Is there a difference between no standing and no parking
- Can I park in front of my driveway?
- Does the curb space regulated by a parking rule end at a driveway or fire hydrant?
- When’s Larry’s birthday?
NYC parking ticket cheat sheet
How long is a bus stop?
The length of a bus stop varies from city block to city block. It starts at the iconic bus stop sign and extends in the direction of the arrow(s) until the next parking sign or the end of the block.
I hate bus stops. They are parking ticket traps. I urge you not to stop, stand or park in a bus stop zone even though you are permitted to expeditiously drop off or pick up a passenger and leave immediately (as long as you don’t block the entrance or exit of a bus). How are you going to prove your defense?
How close to a fire hydrant can I park?
I’ve heard some pretty amazing answers to this question from drivers who didn’t learn the rule and had to pay $115.
You are not permitted to stop your car within 15 feet of a fire hydrant. Here’s the NYC traffic rule:
4-08(e)(2) Hydrants. Within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant, unless otherwise indicated by signs, or parking meters, except that during the period from sunrise to sunset if standing is not otherwise prohibited, the operator of a passenger car may stand the vehicle alongside a fire hydrant provided that the operator remains in the operator’s seat ready for immediate operation of the vehicle at all times and starts the motor of the car on hearing the approach of fire apparatus, and provided further, that the operator shall immediately remove the car from alongside the fire hydrant when instructed to do so by any member of the police, fire, or other municipal department acting in his/her official capacity.
-Don’t be fooled by the verbiage, “…unless otherwise indicated by signs or parking meters.” In order to qualify for this exception, the parking sign must affirmatively permit parking in the curb space abutting a fire hydrant. For example, see the parking pole below. The bottom white sign affirmatively permits parking on Tuesdays between 8 am and 6 pm and the arrow points directly to the curb space abutting the fire hydrant.
Don’t conflate the above sign with the parking sign below and argue, “since none of the rules on the 3-headed monster prohibit standing on Saturdays and Sundays, it’s o.k. to stand within 15 feet of a fire hydrant on Saturdays and Sundays.” No way, that argument will cost you $115! In other words, your normal, garden variety, ASP signs, no parking signs, no standing signs, and commercial vehicle parking signs, etc. do not permit parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant on the days/times the restriction is not in effect.
It was easy to understand the meaning of the parking meter exception to the fire hydrant rule when the parking meters were only the old-fashioned, single space, mechanical meters. If an old-fashioned, single space, mechanical parking meter controlled a parking space, and by parking, in the space, your car was within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, you win. The parking meter exception applied. In Parking Ticket Land, money trumped safety.
Currently, single space meters now live in Jurassic Park and muni-meters now control multiple parking spaces. I believe that the parking meter exception does not apply to muni-meters. Please, don’t park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant in curb space controlled by a muni-meter and expect to beat a fire hydrant ticket based on the parking meter exception. It ain’t going to happen.
I call the next exception the “Fiddler on the Roof” exception because it is in effect between sunrise and sunset. In order to qualify for the protection of the Fiddler on the Roof exception there must be:
- Licensed Driver
- Passenger vehicle only
- Sitting behind the wheel
- With the keys
- Ready to move on the request of the gendarmes
- Between Sunrise and sunset
How much curb space does a parking rule regulate?
The rule(s) displayed on a parking sign regulate the curb space from the parking sign in the direction of the arrow(s) to the next parking sign, or if none, the end of the block. There only has to be one sign per city block (yikes!)
4-08(a)(1)(i) Sign placement. For purposes of this §4-08, one authorized regulatory sign anywhere on a block, which is the area of sidewalk between one intersection and the next, shall be sufficient notice of the restriction(s) in effect on that block.
What is the 5-minute grace period?
This is a wonderful law that was enacted despite Mayor Bloomberg’s opposition. It’s not so much that the extra 5-minutes save us from costly fines as it gives the driving public a little peace of mind that the city can be flexible when enforcing the rigid and draconian parking laws and rules. Thank you, city council!
Here are some links to blog posts that will enlighten you on the myriad ways the 5-minute grace period can save you money.
What is a safety zone
I can’t describe it but I know a safety zone when I see one. A picture is worth $115.
Don’t park on those diagonal white lines. It is a safety zone and it will cost you $115.
I fought a safety zone parking ticket for Joe and lost. The judge ruled that Joe’s chariot extended into the safety zone, even though the wheels were on the lines and only the front extended into the safety zone. Stay away from safety zones!
Can I park at school during a school vacation?
Maybe. You don’t have to obey the school zone parking rule if the school is not in session and there are no activities at school (such as teacher workshops, teacher meetings, parent-teacher conferences, summer school, etc).
You may wish to check out this blog post for a more detailed analysis of when you can park at school without getting a parking ticket.
Is there a difference between no standing and no parking?
Yes. But it’s not what you think. Here are some myths that need debunking:
-I was standing not parking because the motor was on
-I was standing not parking because I was still seated behind the wheel
-I was parking not standing because the car was empty
The difference between standing and parking is the activity you can do in a no standing versus a no parking zone. For example, in a no standing zone, you can stop temporarily to expeditiously drop off or pick up a passenger at the curb. But:
-You can’t wait for the passenger to cross the street safely
-You can’t drop off a passenger and his groceries in a no standing zone
However, in a no parking zone, you can drop-off a passenger and her groceries
In all cases, you must do it fast and leave the danger zone immediately.
Here’s a blog post you may wish to read.
Can I park in front of my driveway?
Yes, as long as your car is registered to the owner of the property at the address of the property, and the property has no more than 2 dwelling units. Here’s the rule:
4-08(f)(2) Driveways. In front of a public or private driveway, except that it shall be permissible for the owner, lessor or lessee of the lot accessed by a private driveway to park a passenger vehicle registered to him/her at that address in front of such driveway, provided that such lot does not contain more than two dwelling units and further provided that such parking does not violate any other provision of the Vehicle and Traffic Law or local law or rule concerning the parking, stopping or standing of motor vehicles. The prohibition herein shall not apply to driveways that have been rendered unusable due to the presence of a building or other fixed obstruction and, therefore, are not being used as defined in §4-01(b) of these rules
Does the curb space regulated by a parking rule end at a driveway or fire hydrant?
No, no, a thousand times, no! Here’s a blog post you may wish to read to dive a little deeper.
When is Larry’s birthday?
November 3…Can you guess the year?
Now was that so tough? Seriously though, parking in NYC is challenging. Mistakes are expensive, so learn the basics and keep your hard-earned dough where it belongs…in your wallet.
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