Wednesday, August 13, 2008

No Standing

“How long has that been there?” I asked a neighbor last night on the street after parking my car. A new sign had appeared on the telephone pole two car-lengths from the corner:

“Since yesterday,” she said.

“But that means we can’t park here,” I said.

“I know,” she said. “You’ll get a ticket. We’re losing two spots.”

The whole block was up in arms. Someone had called 311, someone else had the name of the person we should write to. My neighbor, P., said that first we had to find out why they’d put the sign up there and then we had to prove it was “inappropriate.” What we really need, P. said, is a sign at the head of the street saying “No Trucks.”

Apparently they want to keep this stretch of the street free for turning semis. I have seen semis turning here, at the intersection with the Rockaway Freeway, under the El, and feared for the car in the spot across the street, nearest the corner. I never park there.

Our street does not end at the El—you don’t have to turn. There are three poles with arrows pointing right, strongly suggesting that you turn, but if your car can fit between the poles, well, sail on through. Locals do it all the time—after checking to make sure nothing is coming, of course (especially not a police car). I do it regularly. Even Mister Softee drives between the poles—I saw him do it the other night, playing his jingle, even.

It turns out that the alternate-side signs on our side of the street (No Parking Tuesday, 11:30-1 P.M.) have been down for about a month—and I didn’t even notice! “Oh, yeah,” P. said. “You won’t get a ticket for not moving now.”

Since spring, the D.O.T. has surprised and thrilled the alternate-side parking community with e-mails announcing that alternate side has been suspended indefinitely in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, while it changes the signs to reflect new, less onerous street-cleaning hours. There was recently a census of street signs in Rockaway, reported in the Wave, but the idea was only to replace signs that had faded beyond legibility.

This morning my neighbor Skid Row was heading down the street on his bicycle as I was leaving. “You gonna write a letter?” he asked, indicating the No Standing sign. I said I remembered that when I first started coming here, eight years ago, there was a No Parking sign here. He didn't remember that. In any case, his solution to the problem is a pragmatic one. Studying the bolts, he said, “I’ll just take it down.”

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