I live in a city, but in a suburban-looking neighborhood. There is a lot of off-street parking but also a smattering of multi-family houses without enough, so lots of people park on the street. Well, I wish they parked on the street. Actually, they park on the sidewalk. And I’m not talking about parking with two wheels up on the curb a little bit to make the street wider. I’m talking about parking so far up on the sidewalk that it can be challenging to walk by single file, nevermind squeezing through with a double stroller or a wheelchair. Consider these fairly typical examples:
The first photo is on the main street I use when walking to and from school with my three small children. It is a wide street with plenty of room for parking along both sides. The second photo is a side street off of the main street which is a bit narrower, but also less busy, and so cars aren’t usually parked along both sides. And even if they were, YOU CAN’T PARK YOUR CAR ON THE SIDEWALK.
I have been brewing angry resentment at these cars for about four years now, getting angrier and angrier every time I have to walk in the street with my baby in a stroller and tell my three-year-old I will “meet her around” as she squeezes by the cars on the eight inches of sidewalk remaining next to the car. I kept wondering if I should leave notes on the cars asking the people to stop parking on the sidewalk, because I am pretty sure no one is thinking about the people who actually use the sidewalk for walking, but I’d have to leave at least fifteen notes, and it became ridiculous. I was also boiling with resentment about having to ask people not to park on the sidewalk. I shouldn’t have to ask them not to park on the sidewalk. “No cars on the sidewalk” is a fairly elementary rule of driving. So I finally started calling the police, but I didn’t see any tickets and by the second call, there was a definite “Oh, THIS lady again,” tone in the voice of the officer who answered the phone.
I have also happened to catch two drivers as they were getting into their cars on the sidewalk and said, “Excuse me, but if you park like that, I can’t get by.” The first woman just said, “OK,” and got in and drove away; I haven’t seen her car again. This is the second woman’s car:
When I pointed out to her that I can’t get by when she parks like that, she looked at me and my stroller and my preschooler and was clearly embarrassed, but still explained that the cars on the street “drive so fast” and she “doesn’t want her car to be hit” but that she will “try not to park so close.” I said, “I understand that, but I don’t want to walk in the street.” I also pointed out that she is parked next to an enormous tree which encroaches on the sidewalk, thus making it even more difficult to get by, so she said she’d try not to park as close to the tree. Got that? She’s going to keep parking on the sidewalk, just not quite as far onto the sidewalk, and not quite as close to the tree. She’s not doing a good job with it, though. The other day, she was still there, just maybe three feet further back from the tree. I still can’t fit the stroller between her car and the tree. Also, she is, as always, parked facing the wrong way. I can certainly understand how she doesn’t want her car to get hit by the speedy traffic in the street, though. I feel similarly about myself and my children.
This has become a pet project of mine. I met a city councilor last night at the senate primary (MA special election to replace John Kerry), and he gave me the name of a captain in the police, and I just left him a voicemail. So we’ll see.