Parking Battles Heat Up in New York City

With car ownership rates soaring, the fight for the city's free street parking spots is intensifying.

Read Time: 2 minutes

January 8, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

New York Parking

Maciej Bledowski / Shutterstock

According to an article by Christina Golbaum in The New York Times, New York City's parking woes are reaching a fever pitch as more and more New Yorkers are buying cars and avoiding public transit at the same time as the city has converted 10,000 curbside parking spaces into outdoor dining space during the pandemic. Finding a place to park that newly purchased vehicle has become a formidable—sometimes insurmountable—challenge, according to the car owners quote by Goldbaum.

Car registration in Manhattan rose by 76% between last August and October, signaling a huge growth in the number of vehicles (and necessary parking spots) in the famously dense and crowded city. Residents have taken to blocking off their preferred spots with orange cones and waiting for hours to pounce on available parking as soon as it's cleared by street sweepers. Of the city's close to 3 million street parking spaces, most are free, and New York has never instituted the permit parking systems that many other cities use to control residential street parking. Residents sometimes have to circle for hours to find a spot near their home or pay close to $300 a month for a secured parking space.

Bike and transit advocates don't have much sympathy for the plight of car owners, writes Goldbaum. They claim that the parking scarcity simply underscores the city's "misguided subsidy of car culture" and points to the need to increase other mode shares. Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, dismisses the complaints about lost parking spots. "I’m sorry for your inconvenience but our entire city benefits when you give streets back to people," Harris told Goldbaum.

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