Urban Etiquette: Don’t Be a Parking Pig

by Borderstan.com August 2, 2011 at 10:55 am 2,828 15 Comments

Borderstan, urban parking etiquette

A plethora of thoughtless parking pigs: Can you spot the problems? If not, you are probably a rude and problematic urban parker. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Editor’s note: Welcome to the first edition of Urban Etiquette. Every other week the Borderstan Team will be writing about some common-sense rules of etiquette with an urban twist. Why? We live in a densely populated area of a big city, which makes treating others with basic respect and thoughtfulness even more important. We welcome your ideas for future columns.

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Are you a parking pig? Do you park indiscriminately… without a care in the world… no thought given to your neighbors? Consider the following scenario.

It’s 9:30 pm. You’re driving home from a trip to a friend’s house in the suburbs. You slow down as you reach the block in front of your building, looking for a spot to park.

Then you see it: a car parked about 10 feet forward from the end of the legally marked parking zone. Moreover, the driver has left about seven feet between his car and the one in front. What should be room for three or more cars of most any size is now home to two cars. All the driver had to do was park the car at the very end of the legal spaces, leaving room in front for another car.

Cue the cursing.

Sometimes, you really can’t tell whether or not someone was a careless parker — cars in front and behind of a car on the street have left, so you don’t know the situation for the car still there. But, other times, it’s painfully obvious.

Urban parking etiquette is simple. Park as frugally and efficiently as possible. Make the best use of available space so that others will have room to park, too. Doing so will keep you out of the parking pigpen.

You watch a driver roar up to a huge open parking spot on the block. There is a good 40 feet between the car in front and the end of the legal parking zone. Then, the driver oh-so-carefully pulls the car into the middle of the spot – leaving 10-plus feet of room on either side, which is not enough for a car (unless it’s a Mini). And the driver is still unsure if there’s enough room.

Then of course there’s the cavalier I-am-in-a-hurry parker. He or she comes rolling up the street and spots a bank of empty spots on the block. Instead of parking at the front of the spots or at the very end, he pulls into the middle of the spaces with nary a thought that he is taking up at least two spaces and possibly making it impossible for anyone else to park there.

Is downtown living really for you? If you feel you need two on-street parking spaces for your car you might want to consider one of several options: procure off-street parking, trade your shiny car for an urban beater, or reconsider whether downtown living is really for you.

Downtown D.C., after all, is not Loudoun County. Borderstan does not have an endless sea of parking lots and parking garages. On-street parking is at a premium in the neighborhood. Most car owners don’t have a personal space — they pay a yearly fee for the right to park in their neighborhood.

Remember that urban etiquette isn’t about which fork to use at a dinner party. It’s about treating your neighbors (and visitors) with simple respect and thoughtfulness. Be sure to apply a little of the latter the next time you park your car on the street. Please, don’t be a parking pig.

  • Ward 2 voter

    Love the photo caption! Please do a column on rude shoppers at the P Street Whole Foods next…

  • Miss Piggy

    So many possible topics for this column! As for inconsiderate parkers, has anyone else noticed that Saturday and Sunday afternoons on 14th Street are now “Bethesda Day”? It seems the sidewalks are full of perfectly coiffed and outfitted ladies-of-a-certain-age from MoCo.

  • BCG

    AMEN!!!! Especially on 15th Street with the restrictions due to the bike lane cut-ins, there is no room for error. I even think that cars should nose into the hatched lines a little bit where possible to create some extra room.

  • Troy

    Something that has always nagged me in this town. Why do some drivers/parkers lack self-awareness? I’m certain these same parking pigs would complain regularly about lack of parking, when really they are at the root of the shortage!

    Best part of the article: the breakout on ‘is downtown living really for you’. Well put.

    • dodgecitydave

      Probably the same people who STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK to write a text or talk on their cell phone.

  • GoodPaker

    I wonder if the city would pass legislation making it possible for parking enforcement to ticket people who do this stupid stuff? I am talking about the ones that pull up 10 or 20 feet from the beginning of the parking spots. Think about how many times you end up parking in an illegal spot because there is nowhere else to park because of these inconsiderate asshats.

  • Matt

    In DC there are three highly sensitive subjects, the discussion of which should be limited at social events: politics, religion, and parking! Long time DC residents all know the pain of parking be it caused by the so called “pigs,” bumper busters, newbies, or the clueless aliens.

    DC parking rules & regulations are designed to address the last group in the list. All too often the “pigs” are aliens – check the tags and most will be registered in Virgina, Maryland, or places farther.

    The author referred to the privilege of “pay[ing] a yearly fee for the right to park in their neighborhood.” This statment refers to the DDOT Residential Permit Parking (RPP) program (http://www.dc.gov/DC/DDOT/Services/Parking+Services/View+All/Residential+Permit+Parking). Among the objectives of this program is to “limit on-street parking to participating residents living on designated blocks, and parking is limited to two hours during the hours of operation (typcially 7 AM – 8:30 PM) for those vehicles without the appropriate zone RPP sticker.”

    The parking officers are quick to ticket, and sometimes tow, for certain violations: expired meters, rush hour route violations. However, it is unclear how diligently they monitor non-permit holder violations. Perhaps stricter enforcement will reduce the number of alien pigs, perhaps not. If you have reason to believe such enforcement is lax in your neighborhood, contact the agency ([email protected]) and address your inquiry/complaint to the director, Terry Bellamy.

    In the meantime, watch this video to lighten the mood…It’s Getting Real in the Whole Foods Parking Lot! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UFc1pr2yUU.


  • adamsmorgan

    I agree with the sentiments of this article, but unless you actually witnessed a parking pig, don’t assume it’s their fault. You don’t know where the other cars were when they first parked there. Personally, I think anyone who owns a car is a parking piggy, but that’s a discussion for another forum.

  • J

    Great idea for a column series.

    As for fellow residents complaining about lack of parking, one question: do you have space in the back of your house? If you do, sorry, you don’t have much room (literally) left to complain. You could use some of that space for parking; yes, even if that means sacrificing some garden/patio space. In fact, I’ve seen many, many residents over the years sacrifice parking for extra garden space, or for extending their living quarters. Unwise trade. We own our homes, and some of us are very lucky to have some land behind those homes. I feel we’re the last people who have the right to demand, additionally, some of the public property on the street spaces in front of our homes.

    • Virginia Lee

      Many folks living in those homes are renters. (It isn’t up to them what to do with the non-resident owner’s land.)

  • Sherri

    This is an excellent post! To try to make up for the thoughtless drivers, i try to park my SmartCar in the smallest space on the street and leave the bigger spots for bigger cars. I have occasionally asked someone to back up or pull forward when i see them parking inconsiderately. They usually will– while they shoot me an evil look! And sadly, it’s true– it’s almost always a MD or VA plate on the car.

  • Kevin

    adamsmorgan wrote: “Personally, I think anyone who owns a car is a parking piggy, but that’s a discussion for another forum.”

    Personally, I think anyone who would make such a sweeping, judgmental statement is a troll, but that’s a discussion for another forum.

  • nathaniel

    While I agree with the diea and hate when people don’t park well, the biggest picture is not an example of this. If you look at the very rear of the picture you can see the bumper of another car. It doesn’t look like that driver has anymore room to back up. this means they left as much space as possible for a small car to pull in front of them. If they would have pulled all the way up to the front, there is no way even a small car could have pulled in between the two vehicles.

    In fact not one of your pictures shows the area in front of AND behind the car in question. Without that I cna’t make a judgement.

    Also as people have mentioned, unless you see the person actually park, you have no way of knowing what the configuration of vehicles was when they parked. Maybe they parked right next to a big SUV, but since that time the SUV pulled out and was replaced by a mini. It would like someone wasn’t considerate when in fact that situation is no ones fault. It is not like you get to repark every car on the block when somoene pulls out.

  • M

    Expecting drivers not to be pigs? Good luck with that. Next you may want to expect bikes to stop for red lights or peds not to cross against the light.

  • andy

    Excellent piece. I watch those scenarios everyday from my porch. That’s when I thank myself for not owning a car.


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