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Posts from the "Parking Permits" Category

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Motorist With Now-Expired NYC Disability Placard Still Blocking Curb Ramp

The DOT disability parking permit on the dashboard expired weeks ago, but this driver continues to park in a no parking zone, blocking the curb ramp. Photo: Brad Aaron

The DOT disability parking permit on the dashboard expired weeks ago, but this driver continues to park in a no parking zone, blocking the curb ramp. Photo: Brad Aaron

And now back to Seaman Avenue. A few weeks ago we noted that motorists who obtain disability permits from the city can basically park wherever they want, even in “no parking” zones with curb ramps for pedestrians with disabilities. An unmarked crosswalk at Seaman and W. 214th Street, in Inwood, is a favorite spot for placard bearers, whether their parking credentials are legitimate or not.

The disability permit in the vehicle I photographed for the earlier post was set to expire at the end of October. Above is a picture of that same car, taken this morning, in the same crosswalk. On the dashboard was the same permit, with the same October 31 expiration date.

Not that a motorist needs a valid placard to block a curb ramp, thanks to NYPD and DOT. A DOT rule change implemented in 2009 allows drivers with or without a city permit to block crosswalks that aren’t demarcated with pavement markings or signage. On one recent morning (again, after the disability permit expired) this car was wedged into the crosswalk tight enough that pedestrians approaching from the other side of Seaman were forced to walk in traffic, in the pre-dawn darkness, to find an opening to the sidewalk.

For what it’s worth, I filed a “blocked sidewalk” complaint with 311 today. As far as I can tell there is no “blocked crosswalk” category on the 311 website, nor is there a mechanism to report disability permit abuse.

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Chinatown Biz Group Fed Up With Placard Parkers Hogging Spaces All Day

Imagine if your neighborhood’s streets were used as an employee parking lot for a nearby office building, and the people in charge of enforcing the rules turned a blind eye, day in and day out, as they ticketed members of the public but ignored lawbreaking by their colleagues.

Well, there’s no need to imagine: That’s how parking works in Chinatown, and leaders from the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation are fed up after years of abuse.

Wellington Chen of the Chinatown Partnership LDC points to a placard parker who left his car on the street all day. Photo: Stephen Miller

Wellington Chen of the Chinatown Partnership LDC points to a placard parker who left his car on the street all day. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Partnership inventoried the neighborhood’s parking supply in August, looking at regulations and conditions for the approximately 3,000 on-street parking spaces within the BID’s service area, which is roughly bounded by Broome Street, Broadway, Worth Street, and Allen Street [PDF]. During the peak of summer vacation, the BID found that 24.4 percent of all on-street parking spots in that area were taken up by cars with government placards.

In recent years, the city and state have reduced the total number of placards available, but the streets of Chinatown continue to fill with private cars displaying government placards, sitting by the curb all day like it’s an employee parking lot. The Partnership isn’t the first to document this longstanding problem. A 2006 study by Transportation Alternatives showed only 12 percent of permits in the southern section of Chinatown were being used legally [PDF]. A survey for an NYPD environmental impact statement in 2006 found more than 1,100 cars illegally using placards near One Police Plaza [PDF].

The problem is most pervasive in the neighborhood’s southern end, which is full of courts and government offices. On a midday walk near the Partnership’s Chatham Square headquarters, more than half the parking spots were occupied by placard holders. “Chinatown’s largest population are government workers,” said Wellington Chen, the Partnership’s executive director. “We are far and above the single most affected community.”

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Motorist With NYC Disability Placard Blocks Curb Ramp With Car — Legally

NYC drivers with disability permits can park just about anywhere, even in the way of others with disabilities. Photos: Brad Aaron

NYC drivers with disability permits can park just about anywhere, even if they create obstructions for others with disabilities. Photos: Brad Aaron

I’ve taken up the early morning walk habit, and my route takes me through the intersection of Seaman Avenue and W. 214th Street, in Inwood. It’s a T intersection with an unmarked crosswalk and curb cuts.

I wrote a few months back about how DOT basically did away with a lot of unmarked crosswalks by allowing motorists to park in them. This isn’t one of those. But despite clear signage prohibiting drivers from parking there, for the past three mornings the curb cut on the east side of Seaman has been partially or completely blocked by vehicles.

On Tuesday and Wednesday it was an Acura with a bogus-looking attempt at an NYPD placard and, for good measure, a reflective vest with “NYPD” printed on it, left on the dashboard.

Today it was a different car. Behind the windshield was a laminated card with the “NYC” logo and a wheelchair symbol — an apparently legitimate city parking permit for people with disabilities. Ironically, this driver had completely obstructed the sidewalk ramp, prohibiting anyone using a wheelchair, stroller, or grocery cart from crossing or accessing the sidewalk from the street, and impeding visibility for all pedestrians and motorists.

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Portland Tackled Disabled Parking Placard Abuse, and It’s Working

Disabled parking placards used to be ubiquitous in Portland. Until very recently, the city provided unlimited free street parking to placard holders, estimated at a $2,000 annual value. Many cars bearing these placards would remain in prime spots for weeks or months without moving.

New rules on disabled parking in Portland have made parking much easier. Photo: Wikipedia

New rules on disabled parking in Portland have kept scammers from gaming the system. Photo: Wikipedia

In some parts of the city, cars with placards would occupy 20 percent or more of the on-street parking. This generates traffic by causing other drivers to cruise for spots, and it makes curbside meter management less effective. Putting the right price on parking is tough when 20 percent of the spaces are free to some people.

Joseph Rose, the Oregonian’s transportation reporter, said he couldn’t help but feel like some drivers were pulling a fast one. ”After a while, you get the unshakeable feeling that a lot of able-bodied commuters are getting their hands on disabled permits and scamming a compassionate city out of millions of dollars in parking revenue each year,” he wrote recently.

All the city needed to do to solve the problem, it turns out, was to start charging disabled placard holders to park. That took effect July 1. In an informal poll by the Oregonian, 74 percent of readers said they thought the new rules had increased the number of parking spaces available.

Disabled placard holders are now charged $2.40 for 90 minutes of parking. Those who violate the rule will be given two warnings and then fined $39. As of mid-July local officials reported only about 10 such tickets had been issued, but the policy seems to be having an impact.

“We have so much more parking,” enforcement officer J.C. Udey told the Oregonian. “It just goes to show the program is working.”

Portland’s case is promising for other cities struggling with the same problem. San Francisco is considering almost exactly the same intervention: eliminating free parking privileges for disabled placard holders. Raleigh, North Carolina, recently did something similar.

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WNBC Shames City for Letting Employees Hog Parking With Bogus Placards

The next time you’re in a part of town where a lot of city employees work, take a look at the dashboards of cars occupying curbside parking spots. In neighborhoods across the city, you’ll see bogus placards that parking cheats use to evade meters and other regulations. In a two-part series, WNBC’s Tom Llamas traveled to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and St. George on Staten Island to document the problem. He found that while officials at the top know the abuse is wrong, NYPD parking enforcement regularly turns a blind eye on the street.

Many city employees see free on-street storage of their private cars as a perk of the job. “Because we work for the city, why should we pay?” Tara Jones, a children’s services employee on Staten Island, told WNBC. “Do policemen pay for meters? Do firemen pay for meters? No.”

Most other placard abusers Llamas interviewed on the street remained nameless and either lied on camera about paying or were shamed into feeding the meter, perhaps because they knew what they were doing is wrong. After all, free street parking isn’t an entitlement, it’s a land grab that’s hurting local businesses and residents.

“Merchants here cannot find parking for themselves, for their customers, and it really hurts them as small business owners,” said Josef Szende, executive director of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District. A FedEx driver double-parked on Atlantic told Llamas that “it’s impossible” to find a legal space to make deliveries in the area.

“It’s disheartening because it’s so blatant. Everyone in the community knows they can’t park here,” said Robert Honor, who owns a wine shop in St. George, where parking abuse is a long-standing problem. Only 10 of the 89 parked cars inspected by WNBC displayed meter receipts, and those without proof of payment went without tickets.

While surveys of retail districts around the city show that most customers don’t arrive in private cars, placard abuse leads customers who do drive to clog up streets as they search for an open spot. And that can foil the city’s attempts to reform curbside parking prices.

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Eyes on the Street: Parking Placard Abuse in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Placard abuse in action. Photo: Eli Forsythe

This placard holder was on “official business” in front of a fire hydrant for at least 24 hours straight. Photo: Eli Forsythe

Parking placard abuse might be most noticeable in hotspots like Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn, but it’s an epidemic in neighborhoods across the city. Reader Eli Forsythe sent in photos of an illegally-parked car with a placard on the dash in Prospect Lefferts Gardens last weekend.

“Cars are constantly parking in front of my building,” he writes. “Many of the placards used clearly seem to be placard abuse.”

The car was parked in a no-parking zone in front of a fire hydrant on the north side of Captain Oakley Jr. Square, where Caton and Bedford Avenues meet. The driver was parked using a parole officer placard on “official business” for at least 24 hours on Sunday and Monday.

Even real placards (as opposed to the bogus variety) don’t give drivers carte blanche to park in bus stops, on sidewalks, in front of hydrants, or in no-parking zones. Spot placard abuse in your neighborhood? Snap a photo, including the curb and the nearest parking regulation sign if possible, and send it to tips@streetsblog.org.

Streetsblog will not publish on Monday in observance of Memorial Day. We’ll be back on our regular schedule Tuesday.

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Local BID and CB 2 Ask DOT for More Safety Upgrades on Atlantic Avenue

If DOT follows through on local requests, Atlantic Avenue, here at Hoyt Street, could get some pedestrian safety upgrades. Photo: Google Maps

If DOT follows through on local requests, Atlantic Avenue, here at Hoyt Street, could get some pedestrian safety upgrades. Photo: Google Maps

Last week, Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn became the city’s first “arterial slow zone” with a 25 mph speed limit. Now, a business improvement district on the avenue’s western end is asking for pedestrian safety upgrades, and Community Board 2′s transportation committee has signed on.

“Pedestrian improvements are customer improvements,” said Atlantic Avenue BID Executive Director Josef Szende. “[Shoppers] on Atlantic Avenue are all pedestrians, at least at some point in their journey.”

The BID is asking DOT to study the following safety improvements [PDF]:

  • Leading pedestrian intervals at all eleven intersections within the BID area. (LPIs have already been installed at Clinton, Third and Fourth Avenues.)
  • Bus bulb-outs at corners to speed loading time for bus riders and shorten crossing distances for pedestrians.
  • Shared-lane markings for cyclists along Atlantic Avenue.

Community board staff refused to talk about Tuesday’s unanimous vote supporting the BID’s request, but a board member characterized the committee’s discussion as involving very little debate. Szende said the committee was skeptical of the need for shared-lane markings, since there are parallel bike lanes on Dean, Bergen and Schermerhorn Streets, but did not ask the BID to remove sharrows from its letter to DOT.

The committee did request that the BID also ask DOT about improvements to Times Plaza, the triangle between Fourth, Atlantic, and Flatbush Avenues. ”It’s kind of a drab triangle right now. It’s just asphalt. There’s no lighting, there’s no wayfinding,” Szende said. ”We’re asking DOT to take an honest look at these things, to consider them, and come back to us with whatever they think is feasible.”

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Eyes on the Street: Illegal Parking Crackdown Coming to Jay Street

Photo: Eric McClure

Photo: Eric McClure

Reader Eric McClure spotted these flyers today on cars “up and down Jay Street between Johnson and Willoughby,” in the 84th Precinct. This comes a few weeks after attendees at a public workshop identified illegal parking as a major safety hazard and a major source of dysfunction on Jay Street, where pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and private motorists all mix near the Manhattan Bridge approach.

“Looks like the 84 is getting ready to start writing some tickets,” McClure writes. “Big props to [CO] Capt. [Maximo] Tolentino.”

Judging by the flyer, excuses on the dashboard aren’t going to fly.

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Survey: Majority of New Yorkers Would Pay for a Parking Permit

If you own a car in New York City and need a place to park, leaving it on the street is a nice bargain. The only “cost” is alternate-side restrictions for street cleaning — otherwise, all that space is free. It’s such a good deal that in outer-borough neighborhoods, most car owners with an off-street space at home still choose to leave their cars at the curb.

NYC street parking is free, but New Yorkers are willing to pay. Photo: Chris Murphy/Flickr

NYC street parking is free, but most New Yorkers are willing to pay, according to a survey. Photo: Chris Murphy/Flickr

New York is one of the few large American cities without residential parking permits. While the city has not put any price on residential curbside parking, New Yorkers themselves are willing to pay, according to a new survey by researchers at NYU and CUNY. More than half of survey respondents who live outside the Manhattan core said they would be willing to pay for an on-street parking permit, if the city offered them.

Conventional wisdom assumes that attaching a price to curbside parking in New York is political suicide. ”It doesn’t reflect… what people would be willing to pay,” said Simon McDonnell, a policy analyst at City University of New York who co-wrote the paper with NYU professor Zhan Guo. “There had been no quantification of that in New York City.”

“Curb pricing is not a definite no,” Guo said.

The survey, conducted from 2010 to 2011 and released last October, was filled out by 200 respondents in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan above 110th Street offering information about their demographics and transportation routines. It also included this key question:

Many US cities have parking permits that restrict on-street parking to local residents in a neighborhood. As a result, non-residents are only allowed to park for a limited period of time (e.g. two hours) in these permit zones. If New York City offered your household an on-street parking permit for your neighborhood, how much would you be willing to pay for it?

About 53 percent of respondents — who included car owners as well as car-free New Yorkers — said that if the city offered permits, they would be willing to pay, giving an average price of $408 per year. Factoring in the 47 percent who said they wouldn’t shell out any money for a permit, the average amount respondents said they would pay was $215.

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As Car2Go Eyes NYC, Will DOT Put a Price on Curbside Parking?

Many New Yorkers are familiar with car-sharing services — like Zipcar, Hertz Connect, Enterprise CarShare, and Carpingo — that charge by the hour or day, with a reserved space where customers must start and finish a round-trip rental. Daimler-owned Car2Go operates differently: it charges by the minute or hour, and is focused on one-way rentals, allowing users to return a car to any on-street space within the company’s service area. The company, already operating in ten North American markets, is eyeing New York.

A Car2Go vehicle in the UK advertises free parking for customers -- but the company actually pays a significant amount to cities in order to use curb space. Photo: Elliott Brown on Flickr

“In the last few months, Car2Go has met with several New York City community groups, as well as NYC DOT,” Car2Go East Coast business development manager Josh Moskowitz said in an e-mail. Those meetings included a presentation to the transportation committee of Brooklyn Community Board 7, which covers Windsor Terrace and Sunset Park, indicating that the company is looking beyond Manhattan.

While the potential entry of point-to-point car-sharing to New York has implications for transportation behavior (Will it induce more car trips? Will it encourage households to go car-free?), it also raises another important question: How much is a parking spot worth?

When it launched a 200-car fleet in Washington, DC, last year, Car2Go paid the local government $578,000 annually, or $2,890 per car. The payment granted its users unlimited access to all residential permit zones and metered spaces at no direct cost, though the cars are still subject to rush-hour and street-sweeping restrictions. (The District government’s car-share manager at the time was Josh Moskowitz, before Car2Go hired him.)

When the company decided to expand its fleet by 100 vehicles, it paid the DC government an additional $215,300 per year, or $2,153 per car. In Portland, Car2Go pays the city $1,009 per vehicle per year for curbside access.

It’s not just general access to the curb that’s being sold for thousands of dollars each year. Car-share services are also paying cities for specific parking spots. In 2010, the DC government auctioned off 86 curbside parking spaces to car-share companies, fetching an average of $3,485 for each space, according to TBD.com.

Instead of an auction, San Francisco has opted to give car-share services access to hundreds of spaces in exchange for set fees. High-demand areas would command higher prices; as a result, the city expects to earn anywhere from $600 to $2,700 for each space annually. In Los Angeles, the city has entered into an agreement with Hertz in which the company pays at least $1,500 per space each year [PDF].

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