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THE COMMUTE: I admit it. I was stuck for a story this week with no apparent transportation problems resulting from our little snowstorm this past weekend. Of course, it will take a major storm to know if any of the procedural changes put into effect after last winter’s fiasco will keep the subways and buses operating smoothly, or if the MTA will decide it will be more prudent to suspend service again as they did last year for Hurricane Irene that never materialized.

Missing Parking Signs

Since I usually focus on the MTA, let us give equal time this week to the DOT and look at parking regulations. The one that is most unfair, which traps many unsuspecting motorists, requires you to adhere to the stricter regulation in case of a conflict. Theoretically there should be no conflicts and the regulations should be clear, but that often is not the case. The most common example is when you are parked near an Alternate Side Parking (ASP) regulation, which allows you to park for the duration of time you intend to park. Most drivers just park and walk away after checking the closest sign and think they are safe.

They are not.

Unless you are parked near an intersection, you must make sure that you are parked between two signs with the same restriction even if that means walking to the other end of the block. If the sign you see permitting you to park is 10 feet from your car, and 100 or 400 feet away there is another sign stating “No Parking Anytime” and it is pointing in your direction, you may still receive a summons because the “No Parking Anytime” sign would apply — not the ASP sign — and it would cost you $115. This occurs because the other ASP regulation to complement yours should be there, but is missing. If the agent is coming from the direction of the more restrictive sign in making his or her rounds, that sign is the last one he or she sees and the one in effect. A “No Parking Anytime” sign, which may have been intended for one or two parking spaces, can be now be in effect for most of the block until the missing ASP sign is replaced. This can be a major hardship where parking is at a premium.

It could take the city years to replace a missing or defective sign, especially if no one reports it missing. There is a disincentive for DOT to replace its signs in a timely manner since conflicting signage means extra revenue for the city and there is no penalty if they do not replace the signage. To be fair to the motorist, the law should be changed so that the closer sign applies, not the more restrictive one, and the agent should be able to void tickets already written in such cases. City council members, are you listening?

Database Of Parking Regulations

Also regarding parking, DOT’s website now sports a new feature. It includes a database showing parking regulations for each block in the city, which can be very useful. For example, if you are making a discretionary trip to a neighborhood where parking is difficult, all you do is look up the block where you want to park to check when alternate side parking is in effect before you make your trip. If it states, for example, “No Parking 11 to 2 on Thursday,” schedule your trip to arrive there at or shortly after 2:00 p.m. on a Thursday, when there should be plenty of parking available. This can especially be helpful when scheduling non-emergency appointments to the doctor.

I thought I would give the database a test and entered my block and was informed that my block has no parking regulations, which is not accurate. The web page allows you to submit corrections. I wrote that there are regulations on the block but they are not listed. I immediately received an automated reply thanking me for reporting a damaged sign. So much for technology.

Can You Legally Park At A Curb Cut?

This is an interesting question. Since I have not received a parking or traffic ticket in at least 10 years, I have not checked New York City’s parking and traffic regulations in quite a while. I was curious after reading on DOT’s website last year that it is now legal to block a pedestrian ramp, more popularly known as a curb cut, in certain locations. I figured this had to be a mistake. What is the use in having them if they are blocked? DOT even discusses how important these ramps are.

It was time to check the actual regulations, which are available on DOT’s website for download [PDF]. And guess what? DOT may be correct, or they may be wrong. No wonder there is confusion. After the change was made several years ago, agents were still giving tickets, and some judges were refusing to dismiss them, even after being presented with a copy of DOT’s web page as evidence.

The DOT is correct under Section 4-08 (f) (7) (Page 30). You are allowed to park blocking a curb cut provided all the following conditions are met:

  1. There are no other regulations forbidding you to park;
  2. It is located at a T intersection;
  3. There is no traffic signal at the intersection and
  4. There is no crosswalk.

Now here is where it gets confusing: A crosswalk does not have to be painted in order to be considered a crosswalk, except at T intersections where a crosswalk must be painted or it is not a crosswalk. This is defined in Section 4-01 (b) on page 2.

DOT is incorrect if you check [Code 67] which still prohibits parking in front of a pedestrian ramp with no exceptions and there is a $165 fine to go along with breaking that code. This is also on their website. Why it should be legal to block a pedestrian ramp in any case is a mystery. It does not make sense since these ramps are necessary for wheelchairs, anyone pushing a stroller, or someone just having difficulty negotiating steps. A question for the lawyers: Does the traffic code supersede the Rules and Regulations when there is a conflict?

Other Interesting Regulations

I also decided to check out some of the other regulations and codes.

  1. Pedestrians have the right of way when crossing in a crosswalk either painted or unpainted. However, since a crosswalk must be painted at a T intersection to be considered a crosswalk, you do not have the right of way when crossing there unless there is a traffic signal.
  2. You are only not permitted to cross mid-block, where there is a traffic signal at both corners between where you are crossing. (404) (c) (3). Therefore midblock crossings in the city should be legal where there are no traffic signals. Since you do not have the right of way, be extra careful.
  3. Although a licensed driver is permitted to stand at a fire hydrant as long as he is ready to move his vehicle upon the approach of fire apparatus, he may not stand at a fire hydrant after sunset. (408) (e) (2). Also, if there is a parking meter closer than 15 feet to a hydrant, the parking space is considered legal.
  4. Double parking is allowed for commercial vehicles when making “expeditious” deliveries or service calls outside of Midtown Manhattan if there is no authorized loading zone or parking available within 100 feet. (408) (f) (1) The part about Midtown Manhattan is mentioned as [Code 46] ”Expeditious” is defined as no inactivity for 30 minutes. I previously thought all double parking was supposedly illegal. Apparently those trucks on Brighton Beach Avenue double-parked for up to three-hours delivering fruit are legally parked unless they violate Section 1102 of the state vehicle and traffic law. I’ll leave that one for another day.
  5. If DOT issues you a violation for a defective sidewalk, there is no fine associated with it unless it is not repaired in 45 days. If the defect is a result of tree roots pushing up the sidewalk and the city makes the repair because the homeowner does not, you are not obligated to pay for the repair. However, the city must agree with you as to the cause of the defect and you must request a Root and Sidewalk Consultation from the Department of Parks Trees and Sidewalks program to qualify. Doesn’t say if Parks has to provide one.

I was also surprised to learn that virtually all parking summonses except for meter violations or street cleaning regulations (formerly known as ASP) are now either $95 or $115. The fine for an expired meter is $35 and violating street cleaning regulations is $45. There have been instances where agents have given expired meter tickets several minutes before the meter actually expired. If your car is booted or towed, it can cost you much, much more.

Also, the fine could vary for the same offense for example violating Code 59 which prohibits angle parking where it is not permitted will cost you $115. However if you are cited for violating Code 60 or 61which more or less says the same thing as Code 59, the fine is only $45. If you are charged with violating Code 68 “Not parking as marked on a posted sign,” the fine is $65. Don’t forget Code 99 for other violations with the fine amount listed as “vary.”

Bottom line, be careful where you park and don’t trust DOT.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

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  • Steffi

    How about this:
    Someone takes down a no standing sign that is pretty close to a hydrant on a residential street. 311 is called to report this. The city comes to replace the sign but oops- they put it back up on the wrong pole. Now they have eliminated two cars worth of spots in a place that has no cause for a no standing sign and has never had one before. Lucky city because now all kinds of unsuspecting drivers continue to park there throughout the day receiving a $115 ticket each time. (I see at least two cars a day with new tickets) Obviously someone has called to report this because the city was nice enough to come out and replace the original sign. However, they are leaving up the other sign as well. So now we have eliminated three parking spots on a street that is already hard up for parking AND the city is raking in the fines for almost two months. Yay!

    • MyBrooklyn.com

      City is
      like a bank….they generate profit more than any bank out there…their fees
      and late charges are much higher than any bank that offers their service

    • Allan Rosen

      When they instituted “daylighting” on Oriental Blvd i.e. no parking near the corners so cars at a stop sign could see cars approaching, they were too lazy to put new poles in so in some cases instead of eliminating only one space, they eliminated two. If you go around the city and check every parking regulation, you could put back over a thousand spaces at never should have been eliminated, but were just because DOT wanted to save money on not erecting new stantions. (Here come the replies that the city shoud not be giving away curb space for free and there should be no free parking on city streets.)

    • Guest

      That’s what we get for not riding a bike and for the emperor not getting congestion pricing.

  • Anonymous

    Here is something I found out from experience.  Never ever pay the parking ticket right away,  always send it as not guilty even if you are 100% guilty.  What happens when you do that is that you will automatically get an offer in the mail saying that you have a chance to pay a lesser amount.  Example, you get a ticket for $100.  You send it in as not guilty.  The city then will send you an offer in the mail to pay $80, or some other amount before it goes before a judge.  So you always save.

    • Allan Rosen

      The problem is that before they did that, when you went before a judge, they could lower the fine even if they thought you were guilty but there was extenuating circumstances. Now that they offer you a plea deal before a hearing I believe they also tell you if you are found guilty you then must pay at least the amount of the fine or more.

      • Anonymous

        If you don’t take the mailed in plea it goes before a judge just like before and you can present evidence.  If you are found guilty the most you pay is the amount of the original ticket. 

        • Allan Rosen

          But does the judge have the discretion to reduce that amount like he used to?

          • Anonymous

            I haven’t gotten to that point, but I think the judge still has that power.

          • Allan Rosen

            I thought I remembered reading somewhere that if you do not agree to pay before the hearing, that if you are found guilty, you will then have to pay the entire fine and may be subject to additional penalties.

          • http://www.flickr.com/knightmare6 Knightmare6

            Yeah, you can pay late fees on them, depending on how much time has passed since the deadline of the ticket. It’s even on the website for the online hearings.

    • http://www.flickr.com/knightmare6 Knightmare6

      They just got rid of that. You used to be able to do it online too, request a hearing and before you accepted, it’d lower the fee asking if you’d rather pay the lower fee and forego your right to a hearing.

  • Lyolik

    thanx for the great information. another interesting question: if a drivers remains in the car, do we have to feed the meter?

    • Allan Rosen

      Feeding the meter is against the law.

      • nolastname

        Yes, but unless the department gets a complaint from business on the metered blocks they do not enforce it. It involves documenting time ,plate and location. After which the same agent has to return to issue the summons past the allowed time. Two hour meters have to be revisited 2 hours and one minute after the first observation.  If the car moved up one space, new ball game.

  • Rpell1

    I need to blow off steam……………Why?  Why do some drivers who double park on Ocean Avenue INSIST on stopping in the middle of the lane, in which they double park?  This practice obstructs traffic even more.    Of course, this doesn’t play to the fact that double parking, especially on Ocean Avenue, is an ongoing problem seemingly ignored by the local 61st Precinct.    Imagine all of the revenue lost!

    There, now I can say that…………..I still feel no better!

    • Allan Rosen

      Maybe because they need the room to discharge someone or to open the door?

      Maybe they heard you and will try to stop closer to the parking lane.

      They don’t give tickets because most meter maids are assigned to ticket expired meters. Only a small percentage of them give tickets for violating other regulations.

      • nolastname

        Traffic Enforcement Agents Allan, Meter Maids went out with M&M packages on the dash board. LOL They do ticket bus stops, hydrants, alternates, double parkers, expired reg/insp. Quite a large number os summonses are generated this way.
        If they have to discharge a passenger then pull up and align the door with the space between parked cars….Providing they know how to use side mirrors.  

        • Allan Rosen

          Yes a lot of revenue is generated by non-meter offenses but it is still less than half the tickets. At meters a van arrives and a dozen enforcers spread out. For other offenses, it is usually a single car going around. You might see an agent every 6 hours or less on a non metered street, but at meters someone passes by every 30 minutes. If you are at an expired meter there is a great chance you will be ticketed.

          • nolastname

            As a high-writer TEA my experience has been different. I worked Red Hook to Green Point, Eastern Parkway to the Water. Out of say 200 tickets 20 might be for meters. Two hundred legitimate tickets, judges, cops and delegates included. Court and Adam Street are a field day.
            An agent is assigned an area not an avenue. What ever summonses are in a particular area should be written unless Sanitation or PD is enforcing their own.

          • nolastname

            PS now don’t get me wrong, I also know the practice of sticking their head out of Dunkin Doughnuts to write a meter ticket just to account for their time and presence. 

      • Rpell

        Although I do understand the occassional need to discharge or pick-up passengers…..these drivers leave so much more than enough space to open a passenger door to discharge.  Their LEFT side is within one foot of the lane divide marking.   To make matters worse, they sometimes leave their vehicle altogether, or remain there for more than a few minutes.

    • Guest

      No worries. The way things are going Ocean Avenue will probably become one lane soon.

      • Allan Rosen

        Keep quiet

    • nolastname

      Hey, Tell Ned it’s Monday.

      • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

        Open threads are usually posted at the end of the day. This is like the third or fourth week in a row where people have said something to this effect. Should I just start bumping it up to earlier in the day?

        • nolastname

          Sorry, sometimes I just wake up a Bitch. Other days it takes some conditioning.
          Yes, you could start Friday…or better yet just leave me a sidebar to complain 24/7.
          The end of the day is a long time to hold a thought,,,,Oh, look a bunny. ;-)

          • Anonymous

            Some people can’t hold it till the end of the day…..

            just like when you gotta go. you gotta go.

          • nolastname

            I was never know for being patient. 
            I usually arrive early, expect people to be ready if I am picking them up and 99% of the time I do what I say. The other 1% is with good intension ,,,,,unlike Bloomie.What was hard is accepting not to expect too much.
            Believe you me, if I gotta’ go I AM going.

    • Barkingspider07

      Most drivers are rude and inconsiderate when it comes to parking.  I don’t care if anyone is in the car or not, I’ll always pull into a meter and feed it.  $0.25 is alot cheaper than the cost of the tickets.  No meter?  No parking.

    • Rustyhook42@yahoo.com

      try double parking near a post office!they come by every 10 minutes for fresh blood,

  • us citizen

    Administrative law judges ( Judges incompetent to be real  judges)  will always find you guilty..its expected of them from their superiors

    • Allan Rosen

      Not really true. I’ve had enough experiences to know it is pot luck. Depends on who you get. Some are very reasonable. With others, it doesn’t matter what you say, everyone is guilty. I believe they are reappointed according to the percentage of times they find defendants guilty which in itself would be a conflict of interests.

  • tinman

    An ex–cop also told me that the law for parking at hydrants is fifteen feet – 7 1/2 feet on either side — not 15 feet from the pump as some tickets agents believe.

    • Allan Rosen

      He is wrong. 408 (e) (2), not 408(3) (2) as stated in the article states you are not allowed to park within 15 feet from a hydrant unless there are signs allowing you to or a meter closer than 15 feet. That means 30 foot clearance. Councilman Greenfield tried to get this distance reduced to 20 feet, but the Fire Department insisted they need 30 foot clearance. I would like for them to remove non- functioning hydrants so you could park there.

      Years ago, the number of feet you couldn’t park from a meter was painted on the hydrant and it varied between about 8 and 14. Later they just changed the number to 15 unnecessarily eliminating more good parking spaces.

  • nolastname

    Where are the laws and differences on a handicapped ramp/crosswalk cutaway?

    • Allan Rosen

      I didn’t see any difference. All pedestrian ramps are assumed to be for handicapped use.

      • Allan Rosen

        That’s why I can’t understand why it could be legal to block them. Woudn’t it violate the ADA laws?

  • nolastname

    About the missing sign…. If there are 3 poles for signs and only the one in the middle of the block has a sign for alternates, the middle sign goes to both next poles that are vacant of regulations. The best example used to be on Nostrand Ave. Between meters, pumps and a bus stop there is a free spot. (used to be-I will give a look).

    • Allan Rosen

      The number of vacant poles does not matter.  Only the signs count.  If there are three poles on the block and only the middle one has a sign for alternate side, then the entire block is alternate side.  The meter regulations would also apply but you wouldn’t be allowed to use them when alternate side is in effect. 

      • nolastname

        Yes, but it does. If there were 5 poles and only the center pole #3 had a sign that would mean….pole #1-#2 is free parking….Pole#2-#4 are in effect…..and from pole#4-#5 is again free. 
        One sign does not constitute a whole block of regulations unless it is THE ONLY sign. A signless pole breaks the flow to the next signless pole. The meters mostly speak for themselves with hours and costs posted on or very nearby. Example perfecto.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/34224145@N04/6750651237/in/photostream

        • Allan Rosen

          I didn’t understand what you were trying to say until I saw the video. Perfect example of how people get tickets. That car is not in a free spot. Because of te missing sign, he is now parked in a bus stop and could be ticketed for that. The only way he might not be ticketed is if there were a meter where he was parked and tree was time on it, then it would be obvious that a sign fell off.

          • nolastname

            Sorry, you are still not understanding. Maybe if you take a look for yourself. The free spot is 10 feet away from where the bus stop ends. It is south of a signless pole and north of a pole the institutes parking regulation pointiong south.
            I did this for a living and unless regulations governing such circumstances have been amended I am very sure I am correct.
            Being on the ticket receiving end in  the exact location…I challenged the agent, had a supervisor respond and had the ticket voided and returned to the office.
            Don’t believe the BS that they can not stop a ticket if they are wrong. I can be done. I have done it on more than one occasion. If I was writing a ticket and discovered I was in error I put a line through it and did the paper work at the end of the day. It was frowned upon because the supervisors also had to do paper work. We were told if it was done too many time we would be put under investigation for possible bribe taking.
            Again, it is a free spot. No bout adoubt it.

          • Allan Rosen

            I understand exactly.  With the missing sign, the bus stop is now extended by ten feet. The lightpost means nothing because it would have been there whether or not there was a sign. An understanding judge might believe you and dismiss the summons.  Most would require a sworn statement from someone that they witnessed there previously was a sign at the location you stated.  Another judge might just find you guilty, period and might not even be willing to look at any statements.  That is the unfairness of the system. The supervisor did not have to void the ticket if she didn’t want to.  It was nice of her to do so. You were lucky she believed you.  I stand by my position that it is not legal space.

          • nolastname

            A picture showing the metal band that held a sign would suffice. I will go back and take a pic of the street markings tomorrow. Even a bus stop has a designated length. It’s not quite the same as what they did to Avenue Z between 17 & 18 street.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/34224145@N04/6750670249/in/photostream

          • Allan Rosen

            To Nolastname: Bus stops vary greatly in length so you can’t go by that. I believe I was once told to send a letter to the DOT borough office to verify that a parking regulation should be on a certain lamppost and that worked.

            Today it should be easier. You should be able to go to the database on line which should show the regulation that should be there.

  • LLQBTT

    I thought that there was a 50 foot rule, or something like that out there.  So if a ASP sign has the arrow pointed in the way where you wanted to park, and there was a No Parking Anytime, say, all the way at the other end of the block, pointing your way, but well away from you, it would be OK to park, or at least that would be the defense were a ticket issued?

    • Allan Rosen

      Actually I thought the rule was 600 feet, but I could not find any reference to distance in the regulations. Feel free to check again.

  • brooklyn native

    And then there is the alternative…. get rid of the car.  

    • Allan Rosen

      Not a viable alternative for many given the state of mass transit.  Not many are willing to spend 90 minutes on the bus for a 20 minute trip by car.

  • us citizen

    There may  only can be one  sign  and it would cover that block  i.e.   if there is only a bus stop sign at the beginning of a block that whole block is a bus stop

    • Allan Rosen

      I believe there is a second sign for a few metered spaces according to the video.

  • Allan Rosen

    I reread the regulation and it is ambiguous if in fact you would be allowed to park at a meter if you were less than 15 feet from a hydrant as I stated. 408 (e) (2)

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