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If you’re unfamiliar with the alternate side

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 15, 2007

If you’re unfamiliar with the alternate side parking shuffle that happens once or twice a week in most areas of NYC, Jen Bekman has a good description of it. I’m convinced the New Yorker would go out of business if it weren’t for the shuffle…a lot of 6,000 word articles get read waiting for the meter maid to come around.

Reader comments

johnJun 15, 2007 at 1:53PM

this is the reason i will never be able to live in new york.

carlaJun 15, 2007 at 2:12PM

They do this in Venice Beach, too. Cost me a lot of money.

MargaretJun 15, 2007 at 2:21PM

I’m about to move to Brooklyn from my oh-so-nice never-need-to-move-my-car street in Cambridge, Mass. I’m pondering whether or not to take my car with me. It seems like it’s easier in Brooklyn than in Manhattan at least…

jkottkeJun 15, 2007 at 2:32PM

My friend Jen has a series of three photos that shows the shuffle in action (1, 2, 3). In this case, instead of double parking, people remain in their spots until the cleaner comes by, move out of the way, and then quickly zip back to their spot. It’s actually quite something to watch in person, this synchonized driving.

Jen BekmanJun 15, 2007 at 2:45PM

The synchronized driving thing is totally weird - I always feel like I’m part of a school of fish when I do it. It’s not limited to the shuffle - I’ve had the same experience driving on highways, moving in a disjointed kind of unison (is that possible?) with a clutch of other drivers who are just past the upper edges of the speed limit.

Love Jen Chung’s photos!

IainJun 15, 2007 at 2:57PM

In answer to Margaret - it is much much easier in Brooklyn than it is in Manhattan. Where I live, in Williamsburg, I have to move the car for Tuesday and Wednesday only and as long as I think ahead a bit I have no trouble at all finding parking. In other parts of the borough - even other parts of bburg - cars need to be moved four days a week. Parking can be harder to come by in places like Park Slope and Carrol Gardens. Still, nothing is as bad as Manhattan.

That said, I get about three parking tickets a year. I’m particularly fond of the public humiliation aspect of the punishment - in the form of a giant yellow sticker that is next to impossible to remove from the car window telling everyone that the street is dirty thanks to this asshole who didn’t move his car.

jenJun 16, 2007 at 9:31AM

It seems terribly nice that this only occurs during a 3 hour time frame. When I was living in Cambridge, MA it was mostly all day. Folks would move their cars the night before as there was no guarantee on what time they’d show up. I forgot about it once and woke up to no car. The Cambridge PD didn’t know where it was because I called too early. When I found the tow lot they told me they see the same people week after week who pay $100+ to retrieve their cars because they just can’t remember to move their them.

DavidNYCJun 17, 2007 at 7:47PM

Having done this a couple of times, my sense was that we weren’t waiting for the meter maid per se, but rather for a) the street sweeper to make its pass and then b) the forbidden time period to elapse. I suppose if a meter maid had come down the street at that point, we all would have scurried in a hurry.

Also, per Jason’s comment at 2:32pm above, that’s how I’ve seen it done - camp out in the to-be-cleaned lane, not double-parked - when I’ve tried it on the UES. Though I have seen the double-parking phenomenon in Harlem.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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