Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sidewalk parking

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:

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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:

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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.

17 comments:

Mama Bub said...

I truly can not believe this. Granted, I live in the height of suburbia, but who thinks it's okay to park on the sidewalk? I'm just giggling thinking of our police, who spend their time yelling through their speakers are parents who are clueless in the school drop off line, and what they would do in that situation.

Swistle said...

This is crazy. They can't do that. How can they do that? It wouldn't even OCCUR to me to park on the sidewalk, because parking on the sidewalk is like parking inside the store or parking on the playground. And yet here they are BARGAINING, as if perhaps they have a legitimate point.

Elizabeth said...

This is craziness. If you did this in my neighborhood you'd have a ticket in two seconds. They're basically lying in wait for you to park facing the wrong way.

Slim said...

FULL OF WRONGNESS. I cannot come up with any reason that justifies this, and I spend a lot of time trying to think of things to excuse behavior that seems objectionable.

There is nothing for this except Jonna's air horn. Because this is that kind of wrong.

(Also, the woman you spoke to? Extra air-horn blast to her.)

Dr. Maureen said...

But, Slim, she doesn't want her car to be hit.

ant danielle said...

Oh, I'm going to start parking inside the store from now on. Thanks for the idea!!

Slim said...

If you don't want your car to be hit, don't own one. Or don't park on the street. But don't park on the sidewark or inside a store, because ::AIRHORN::

HereWeGoAJen said...

FIGHT THEM! We cannot allow these sidewalk parkers to win.

Anonymous said...

Tell those law breakers that there is a grandmother that they will have to answer to if her grandchildren are harmed because of their selfishness.

Rah said...

It bothers me more than I can voice that these people, and especially the police, seem to think it is perfectly okay for you to have to take a stroller and your little ones on foot OUT INTO THE STREET because the sidewalk is full of car.

Maybe take the photos to the police, and tell them you are writing about it on your very public blog, with pictures, until it stops. There have been instances where that stopped certain things--police don't like the public-ness of it.

Next time you take photos, take one of the license plates, too, and put a copy under their windshield wipers with a note "reported to police."

Do any of your local TV stations have one of those investigative programs that allow people to call in with problems they can't get resolved? Surely a public eye of some sort would help. It should not be allowed to continue!

p.s. Can you tell you hit a hot button?

Krizzzz said...

"I feel similarly about myself and my children. "

I think that's the part I'd quote back to anybody who talks about not wanting her car to get hit. Don't even worry about trying to sound like you understand her point of view. Just use that line above, and cultivate one of those polite but searing stares that causes the opposition to wither into small puddles.

People are Un. Real.

Steve Paul said...

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Freya George said...

This is simply wrong and how someone can be this insane to block the sidewalk for their own interest and rest if the world go die. There are many parking alternatives available so why these people put others in danger...
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Jenna Catlin said...

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perry cole said...

Why don't people understand their responsibilities, to park their cars in the parking lots available in the areas and not the sidewalks and open streets? They not only making it difficult for strollers, wheelchairs to pass through and people to walk on sidewalks, but also not giving the way to other cars to pass easily.

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carla grace said...

It seriously bothers alot , how people could be so irresponsible while parking vehicles on open roads and near the houses. It can bring hurdle for pedestrians and other road residents . long term car parking should be done at proper place which also provides security . In this regard deal with gatwick valet parking

Brooke Higgins said...

This is simply wrong and how someone can be this insane to block the sidewalk for their own interest and rest if the world go die. There are many parking alternatives available so why these people put others in danger...luton airport parking