help me thrive with a car in nyc
August 18, 2009 8:07 PM   Subscribe

NYC parking filter - I need to know what you know.

I'm going to have a car in manhattan around 125th street.

I didnt want to have a car up here but i'm stuck with it now.

Can you help me make my car-in-NY experience a bit more bearable?

I will learn the alternate side of street parking rules in my neighborhood. But -- is it true that once the street cleaner passes by, you can go park your car back where it was, even if the official time slot for no parking (for instance, 8:30-10) isnt over yet? The street cleaner doesnt come back, does it?

Is it true that the street cleaner comes by at around the same time for a given street, each time that it comes by? For instance, if I observe it coming by at 9:30AM on a given street, will it come by around 9:30 AM again the next tues or thurs?

So could I just sit in the car a bit before the expected time, wait to see the cleaner, drive around the block and park once more where I was once the cleaner has left that street?

Is it worthwhile to park waaaay far away like in queens even tho i live in manhattan? I hear the parking rules are much less oppressive there, with alternate side parking only once a week instead of twice.

Is it worth finding out "good parking neighborhoods" along the #1 subway train going uptown, parking up there and taking the subway back?

So what kinds of things did you do to survive NYC parking? Can it actually become bearable?

thanks!
posted by jak68 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, I'm googling around, but do you happen to know of any websites out there to help the hapless new yorker park? Like a manhattan map of alternate side parking rules? Overlaid with comments or ratings by people? (yea, i know i'm dreaming).
posted by jak68 at 8:10 PM on August 18, 2009


PrimoSpot - got it on the iPhone, but they seem to have a web version too. It shows you alternate side of the street parking rules, nearest garages, it's fantastic.

I recommend you get a garage. Seriously, unless you really can't afford one. You can find "deals" in Brooklyn or, more so, Queens. I am not a car owner, but my boyfriend is. He just found a garage spot with 24/7 access near(ish) to us in Brooklyn for $150/month. You won't have to deal with the alt side of the street parking, parking tickets, salt damage in the winter, circling the block...

Queens Parking Ads on Craigslist
posted by jacquilinala at 8:15 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I had the misery of a car, I was told the sweeper can come and go, but the traffic cops can still come at any time, and you will get a ticket at 10:59 a.m. if you are in a spot that is illegal until 11 a.m.

Pro tip: learn where the tow pound is and put their number in your phone. When you arrive to a missing car, call them before you call the cops.



This is the parking map site you are looking for.

I often parked a subway ride away if I could have the spot for a week.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:16 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


But -- is it true that once the street cleaner passes by, you can go park your car back where it was, even if the official time slot for no parking (for instance, 8:30-10) isnt over yet? The street cleaner doesnt come back, does it?

The cleaner won't come back, but the cops might. I believe people typically wait in their cars until the timeslot is over. I've only done this once or twice, but I'm pretty sure I waited the whole time.

Do you actually need the car on a regular basis? If not, perhaps you could put it into storage?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:18 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The cleaner won't come back, but the cops might. I believe people typically wait in their cars until the timeslot is over. I've only done this once or twice, but I'm pretty sure I waited the whole time.

This is true. You can move your car back after the sweeper passes, but you have to stay in your car until the end of the parking restriction. Bring a book.
posted by dcjd at 8:21 PM on August 18, 2009


As someone who has done this on-and-off for years (and watched my dad do it before me), find a garage with a "storage" rate. On-street parking in NYC is a massive pain in the ass.

As others have said, the signs are the law. Doesn't matter when the streetcleaner passes, it's whatever the sign says. What you're watching people do is move their cars back, sit in their cars (coffee, reading the paper, smoking, whatever), killing time until they figure it's a safe bet that a traffic agent won't pass between that moment and when parking is legal again.

Combine free parking with no residential parking priviledges, limited on-street capacity, and too many cars, and this is what you get.

Other notes:

* expect that if you ever use the car outside of the parking cycle (e.g. when a lot of cars are all being moved at the same time), you'll spend up to 30 minutes looking for a space. Especially on a Sunday evening.

* A lot of people, unfortunately, park by feel, and will back into your car - your car will suffer a lot of bumps & dings that it didn't have before. Don't get me started on the implications for motorcycles in NYC.

* Don't leave *anything* visible in the car. While break-ins aren't as common as they used to be, they still happen, and they suck massively. I had to suffer through several years in my old neighborhood where some jerkoff broke into my car repeatedly because they scored bigtime the first time. And this was a 12-year-old Toyota Corolla. I kid you not, they stole *one* (but not both) of my Hawaiian-print seatcovers. They were also too stupid to notice one cardboard placeholder window, and instead broke the window on the other side. This is the caliber of person who might decide to mess with your car.

* Don't think you can park & leave your car in any neighborhood unattended. First, every street in the city has some kind of parking regulation - it will get ticketed. Second, the locals will notice that the car is sitting there & not being minded, and will take action (either because they resent you taking one of their spaces, or because they like your rims, fenders, stereo, etc..)



The only way parking in NYC is bearable is:

1) Your schedule allows you to factor in moving the car 1-2x a week. Realize you will run out in your PJ's at least once a year to not get a ticket.
2) You have something of a beater car, that won't mind a few extra dings
3) You have a very zen approach to people messing with your car.
4) You have a by-the-hour parking garage that you can use in an emergency when you need a parking spot RIGHT NOW.
5) You pay for a parking space.
6) You *use* the car for something other than parking on a regular basis.

Seriously, unless you're leaving town at least twice a month, cost of ownership of a car is just not worth it. Zipcar is a much better alternative.

(and I still remember the NYC subway ad that read: "The average NYer spends 320 hours a year having sex and 450 hours a year looking for parking" - it was a Zipcar ad, but I promptly went and paid for a parking garage.
posted by swngnmonk at 8:35 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah fuck. Having a car in manhattan is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, its really nice to be able to zip out of the city if you need to (and you will...), but yeah, parking is a bitch.

I used to live on 125 and Bway, and while I didn't have a car, I was sleeping with a girl at the time who did. We worked at a bakery and had to get up at 5 a.m. everyday, and came home late, which made it pretty easy.

There are streets in manhattan that are not subject to the street cleaning business...but they are rare. Garages are really expensive.

Basically, there is no good way to have a car in the city. Either you pay up for parking, or you deal with the moving hassle. I had a friend who parked her car at a friend's house in connecticut (in a town on the train line) and left it there, because she didn't need it in the city. I thought that was a pretty smart move.

Oh, and NYC is notoriously ruthless about tickets...and they are NOT cheap. $100 is about the least you'll get cited for.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:38 PM on August 18, 2009


Oh, and yeah - everything sngnmonk said x total truth.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:40 PM on August 18, 2009


Don't leave *anything* visible in the car. While break-ins aren't as common as they used to be, they still happen, and they suck massively.

Word. I've heard it said it's worth it to just leave your car empty and unlocked, to avoid having to deal with the hassle of broken windows. Wish I had remembered to tell my friends that over Memorial Day weekend, when their Goodbye NYC present was a shiny pile of front window glass and a stolen GPS.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:46 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is incredibly, incredibly helpful, thanks everyone. Please keep the tips coming!

While its good to know that long term parking is avail for about $150/month, I'd rather not spend that if I can help it. As far as whether I use the car regularly, I'd use it at least once a week I guess. In fact a big part of the reason why I'm bringing it up to nyc is because it was basically dying a slow death from lack-of-use sitting in mum's driveway. If i'm paying insurance on it I may as well keep it near and use it if its bearable to keep around here. Of course I could sell it but I'd rather not if I can help it.

So I've resigned myself to "surviving" the parking labyrinth of tricks and rules.
posted by jak68 at 9:28 PM on August 18, 2009


p.s., for what its worth, its an 18 year old honda civic hatchback, worth only about $1000 on the open market, though is something of a family heirloom at this point ;) .

But yes at least monetarily speaking a few dings or break-ins are bearable. I dont have anything pricey in there and I have one of those steering wheel bar lock things (not that I expect it to help ;) for good measure.
posted by jak68 at 9:35 PM on August 18, 2009


re: ruthless ticketing in nyc, I did have some experience with that, the first time I brought the car up here, I apparently parked too close to the bus stop... $100 ticket, which I then (in my spoiled-suburban-mode of thinking) thought I could contest, and which resulted somehow in the ticket being bumped up to $150, after which I did get the message, and paid it meekly. Uncle.
posted by jak68 at 9:40 PM on August 18, 2009


One question - if you're sitting in your car drinking coffee and reading the times for an hour and a half, when the cop comes by, will he give you a chance to move before starting to write up the ticket? Ie, do I have to be on constant lookout for the cop even while I sit in the car? Or do the cops generally knock on the window to get your attention before they attempt writing up the ticket? Just curious because if I bring a book to read for instance, I can picture myself becoming engrossed in teh book and not noticing the cop coming down the street (while waiting from 8:30 to 10 or whatever)...
posted by jak68 at 9:56 PM on August 18, 2009



While its good to know that long term parking is avail for about $150/month, I'd rather not spend that if I can help it.


Who wants to spend it? But I found it comes out less per month than the tickets you get inadvertently because the signs and the rules are difficult to follow perfectly. (They say all computer programs have bugs--they weren't put in there on purpose.)

do the cops generally knock on the window to get your attention before they attempt writing up the ticket?

Most of the time. But I've seen the exceptions.

a few dings or break-ins are bearable.

How about broken windows? Or stolen batteries?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:00 AM on August 19, 2009


When you get a parking ticket (and you probably will, sorry), you can often have it automatically reduced by giving up your right to a hearing. This can be done instantaneously on the web, by going through the process of requesting a hearing instead of going to pay the ticket on this page.

My $65 expired inspection sticker ticket became a $43 ticket in all of four seconds, which was slightly easier to swallow.
posted by thejoshu at 5:27 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Rip your stereo out. Leave nothing in your car. Not just "nothing of value". I mean nothing. The seats can stay, but everything else? Gone. The more your car looks like it's already been looted, the less likely someone will rob it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:37 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The easiest, flat-out easiest place to find parking around there is on the Riverside Drive viaduct. But it's covered in shattered window glass, so draw your own conclusions. I had a car in that area for awhile and while it's pretty good for Manhattan, parking is still hell. You could always rent a secure space in Astoria and hop the M60 or something. Or garage it cheap in the Bronx close to a subway kline.
posted by zvs at 6:01 AM on August 19, 2009


Re: $150/month parking -

It boils down to the question of "what's my time worth?" The moment you realize you're spending over 10 hours a month looking for/dealing with parking, it starts becoming seriously worth it.

So the guys who repeatedly broke into my Toyota? There were several occurrences where they broke in, rifled through the glove box (dumping the contents out), rifled under the seats (finding the never-used remote control for my stereo several times), and eventually gave up empty-handed, save a few bits of loose change. And this in a car that was visibly *empty*, with a cardboard triangle pasted over the hole that was the rear-seat vent window.

A '91 Civic hatchback is about the perfect car for NYC on-street parking. Durable, you won't really notice abuse, and the junkyards in the South Bronx & Queens have a near-infinite supply of parts for those cars.

Furthermore, it's too small for some activities. Like the hippie I once knew who parked his old VW bus near Central Park for a week during a stretch of Grateful Dead shows, only to return to find two homeless men having sex in the back of it.

(sorry, that's my favorite reality-of-parking in NYC story. Had to use it.)
posted by swngnmonk at 6:16 AM on August 19, 2009


If you decide you want to try a garage, I believe there used to be reasonably-priced parking way above 155th.

they stole *one* (but not both) of my Hawaiian-print seatcovers
Probably used it to carry loose change and other loot.
posted by exogenous at 6:37 AM on August 19, 2009


One question - if you're sitting in your car drinking coffee and reading the times for an hour and a half, when the cop comes by, will he give you a chance to move before starting to write up the ticket?

They won't write you a ticket for sitting in your car. Everyone on the block will be doing the same thing.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:05 AM on August 19, 2009


I was ticketed once by this evil bitch %$@# from hell just waiting for someone at a hydrant. She never gave me a chance. But I think the traditions are different for alternate side parking.

Honestly, I lasted three months trying to keep my beloved 15 year old Honda Civic hatchback in the city. Then I just gave it to a friend in Vermont. It just wasn't worth it. When I need to drive, I rent or use a friend's zip car.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:29 AM on August 19, 2009


If you have GPS, don't just take it out of the car, but also wipe away any circular residue on the windshield, otherwise people will break in thinking there's a GPS they can steal.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:09 AM on August 19, 2009


Seconding this from swngnmonk:
It boils down to the question of "what's my time worth?" The moment you realize you're spending over 10 hours a month looking for/dealing with parking, it starts becoming seriously worth it.
My boyfriend only got the garage after about two months of street parking, in Park Slope, Brooklyn, btw, not Manhattan. I imagine it's harder to find street parking in Manhattan.

I didn't even think of the Bronx. Being in northern Manhattan, you should look there too. But totally give the street parking a shot - who knows, it might actually work for you, and the price is right. Good luck :)
posted by jacquilinala at 8:49 AM on August 19, 2009


Thanks for the superb tips, everyone. Truly an enlightening read for a city-car-newbie.

>"Honestly, I lasted three months trying to keep my beloved 15 year old Honda Civic hatchback in the city. Then I just gave it to a friend in Vermont. It just wasn't worth it. "

For the record, I've begun spreading the word among friends and friends' friends.

I also took out this ad in craigslist. Surprisingly gotten a couple of responses so far already, both of which actually sound like they could work (one being a teacher with a private driveway and a 12 mile commute). (I'm very cautious of craigslist responders; and I'll definitely interview and check out any applicant). A friend's friend would be better of course.

And since I've linked the craigslist ad here, I guess any of your friends would count too ;)
posted by jak68 at 9:40 AM on August 19, 2009


Update, the teacher lives in Westchester. ;) So barring anything unforeseen, I may have found my driver ;-D

yay for askmefi and craigslist ;)
posted by jak68 at 9:47 AM on August 19, 2009


(Late now, but I had to add my two cents.)

In Brooklyn at least, a ticket for screwing up alternate-side parking is only $45, definitely not $100. Whatever you do, don't get fed up and try to squeeze in near a fire hydrant, because the ticket for that is waaaaay more (and they can tow you) (uh, not that I speak from repeated experience or anything).
posted by eleutheria at 11:41 AM on August 19, 2009


thejoshu, that's great info. I owe you a beer or three.
posted by Caviar at 9:36 AM on August 24, 2009


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