Today, New Yorkers with cars will go through the now-familiar process of not getting in their cars, not pulling them over to the opposite side of the street to double-park, not waiting with their vehicles long after the city sanitation trucks have passed (for fear of parking too early and getting a ticket), and then not struggling to find a new parking spot when the chaos has finally subsided.
That’s because New York City’s alternate-side parking rules, which require drivers to move their cars so sanitation trucks can clean the streets, are suspended. Again. But with warmer temperatures (and even some sun!) being forecast for later this week, you might want to go fire up your engine just to make sure you’re ready when the time comes to renew this frustrating ritual.
Alternate-side parking was already suspended for a combined total of 30 days in January and February. Twenty-four of those suspensions were because of inclement weather, while six were bestowed due to holidays. Happy New Year, people!
The parking regulations are set by the New York City Department of Transportation so that the city’s sanitation department can sweep debris and, in the winter, deal with snow and ice removal. From Saturday, January 24, to Monday, February 9, alternate-side parking was suspended every day from Monday through Saturday (there is no alternate-side parking rule on Sundays). That’s a twelve-day stretch. And from Thursday, February 12, to Tuesday, February 24, a combination of holidays and horrid weather gave car owners fourteen glorious days off from the alternate-side nightmare.
Belinda Mager, spokesperson for the City of New York Department of Sanitation, says that in subfreezing temperatures, it’s “impossible to clear snow/ice from curbs, reverse-plow it into streets, and salt it so it melts.” So on these days, it doesn’t make sense to make drivers move their cars.
“You need temperatures around the freezing point and bright sunlight early in the day,” she explains in an email to the Voice. “Asking people to move their cars and DSNY not being able to get into that block to perform that type of work would create unnecessary frustration.”
On Wednesday, February 25, alternate-side parking was back in effect as the warmer, sunny conditions allowed workers “to do some snow clearing,” writes Mager. “First, we send in a regular street sweeper in non-ice-covered areas to pick up litter. A salt spreader is used on the icy areas. A plow comes through to move the ice away from the curb. Finally, a clam-shell front-end loader breaks up what’s left.”
On Thursday, February 26, and Friday, February 27, the parking regulations were again suspended because of “cold weather conditions,” but they came back into play on Saturday. And today, once again, New Yorkers will be able to scoff at the silly ritual of shivering behind the wheel in their pajamas before they get on with their day.
While alternate-side suspensions feel like manna falling from the heavens, they’re not terribly uncommon. Last year, the New York City Department of Transportation suspended alternate-side parking for 29 days due to weather in January and February (not including holidays). That’s a few more weather-related days off than we had amid #Blizzardof2015 parts one and two. In 2011, the New York Times recorded a seventeen-day stretch without alternate-side parking — and reporters dug through the archives to find a 62-day-long hiatus from the rules in 1978.