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 DC, 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.
This column first ran August 2, 2011. With the arrival of more and more weekend visitors from outside the neighborhood (and more restriction on non-resident parkers in Logan Circle), we thought it was a good time to repost.