Parking in New York City is, at best, an incredibly confusing puzzle. At worst, parking a car in the Big Apple is an absolute nightmare.
Besides the lack of available spots, the entire city is designated as a tow-away zone, which means officers may tow cars away any time they are parked illegally.
"It's literally my least favorite thing in the world," Seaford, New York, resident Liz Degen said of parking in New York City. "Confusing as hell. Sometimes, there are three signs all in one place, and they contradict each other. So there is no way to tell if you can park there until you come back from a fantastic night of fun to find a $200 parking ticket on your car that violates a rule that is not even visible on any of the three sings you saw in the first place."
Drivers Want to Follow the Rules
The vast majority of New York City residents and tourists want to follow the rules by parking in legal spots, but drivers in the Midtown area have been dealing with confusing parking signs for decades.
Drivers often park in what they believe to be a perfectly legal spot, only to come back moments later to see that their car has been towed away. They have a difficult time knowing the rules and understanding them clearly because many of the parking signs are hard to read.
"Anyone who has ever parked in New York City knows how confusing it can be," said 20-year-old Brooklyn resident Corinna Milstein. "I have gotten $100 parking tickets and [been] towed away a couple times, when I thought I parked legally. It's so frustrating."
Some signs feature as many as three different colors and over 200 characters to explain parking rules. For example, one red street sign in Midtown reads, "No standing except commercial vehicles. Metered Parking. 3 Hour Limit. 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon Thru Fri." There's a green-and-white sign directly underneath with "6 p.m.-midnight, Mon thru Fri. Metered Parking. 6 Hour Limit" and yet another display on the bottom with "8 a.m.-midnight, Saturday, Metered Parking, 6 Hour Limit."
Signs like that are enough to leave most drivers scratching their heads when it comes to determining the legality of specific parking spots in New York City. The parking signs cause many to give up and simply take public transportation, instead.
"I don't drive or park too much in the city," said 27-year-old New York City resident Jackie Tobin. "I just don't. I take the train."
Is the City Purposely Trying to Confuse People in Order to Hand Out More Tickets?
New York City Councilman Daniel Garodnick says not so fast. In a recent Newsday report, Garodnick explained that the city has no interest in playing "gotcha" with drivers.
In fact, Garodnick helped introduce recent legislation to have more clarity with New York City's parking signs.
The city is getting rid of 6,300 of the old, confusing signs and replacing them with new ones that have two colors instead of three. The new signs also have 100 less characters and an easier-to-read typeface.
Compared to the old ones, the new signs are much clearer and simple-looking. "Not bad," New York City commuter Bobby Panzenback said of the new signs. "But I'm still going to take the train to work. Gas is way too expensive, and traffic is horrible during business hours."