street storage: street parking


Let us suppose you have a chest of drawers that you sorely need for storage space but cannot fit into your small apartment. What to do?

Here is one thought: Why not put it on wheels and leave it curbside in front of your building? Naturally, you accept a theft risk and an obligation to move the chest across the street every few days to comply with alternate-side parking rules.

Absurd, right? You can't just leave personal property on the street.

But what if we call that thing on wheels, oh, a car? Suddenly, it becomes O.K. to gobble up precious public space for your own benefit. Not only that, but on most streets you also need not pay a dime for this storage area.

So begins Clyde Haberman's "NYC" column in today's NYTimes.

While eventually we will be forced to ban on-street parking in New York, presumably starting only with Manhattan at first, it's not going to be easy, not least because of the sense of entitlement fostered for car owners by every city administration for over half a century.

Before 1950 it was illegal to park overnight in Manhattan. Transportation Alternatives activist John Tierney has cited how old photographs demonstrate "gracefully uncluttered streets. Many of the sidewalks were much wider than today's and adorned with greenery."

The city's pedestrian majority, as Police Commissioner Arthur Wallander approvingly observed in 1947, was firmly opposed to ''the public streets being used as garages.'' But the city's politicians had their own cars to park and favors to hand out. So some of the world's most expensive real estate has ended up being used to store hulks of metal, at unbeatable prices.
But of course he's not been alone in encouraging New Yorkers to take back the streets. Two and a half years ago Frank Pelligrini proposed in Time that incoming mayor Bloomberg be so bold as to make his mark by doing the right thing by all New Yorkers.
Banning parking would rev all the economic engines that the city runs on, and eliminate the real source of economic dead weight, namely private-vehicle owners who are just waiting for an excuse to get out of town for the weekend anyway

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