Volume 22, Number 27 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 13 - 19, 2009
By Sam Schwartz
Dear Transit Sam,
I was driving Downtown and was recently cited for talking on my cell phone during the police department’s most recent crackdown. Here’s the scenario: I was driving and pulled into a “No Standing” zone to field a call. I happened to pick up my phone before I was completely stopped, though I was in the process of pulling off to the side. Do I have a leg to stand on?
You literally spoke a moment too soon. Unfortunately, the officer observed you talking on your “mobile device” with the car in motion. Even if you were in the No Standing zone, if your engine was on, the officer may cite you (although some judges would dismiss such a ticket, being very literal about “vehicle in motion.”). You also could have been cited for violating the “No Standing” rule. Talking on a cell phone is not a defense for parking in a No Standing zone.
In the future, either use a hands free device or find a legal parking spot or a “No Parking” zone instead of a “No Standing” zone. You may plead “guilty with an explanation” and hope for a reduced fine. I don’t think a judge will find you not guilty.
Dear Transit Sam,
On a recent trip to the Bronx, I received a ticket for blocking a pedestrian ramp. The ticket describes the vehicle as a “BUIC” and “4Dr,” while my vehicle is a two-door Toyota. The ticket states that I was parked on the SS Arthur Ave 60ft E of E 183 St. I consulted a map (I found the ticket in the windshield wiper well after I arrived home to Lower Manhattan) and it looks like I was parked on the north side of Arthur Ave. about 60 feet from E. 183 St. Can I beat the ticket? Pedestrian ramps are confusing and the street was not marked where I parked.
John, Pearl St.
Pedestrian ramps, I agree, are confusing, and are not always easily defined. I have asked the Dept. of Transportation to better highlight these crosswalks through signs or markings or both.
But, John don’t worry about the ticket. There are so many things wrong with it, it’s an embarrassment to the N.Y.P.D.:
Incorrect car make is grounds for an automatic dismissal. (“4 Dr” vs. 2 door will not result in a dismissal).
Arthur Ave. runs north-south so the “SS Arthur Ave.” is meaningless. “60 feet east of 183rd St.” is also meaningless since 183rd St. runs east-west.
Plead Not Guilty, explain the errors as I’ve listed above, and send in a copy of your registration. Also include a map of the area with a north arrow. Your summons should be dismissed.
All that being said, I don’t condone blocking of pedestrian ramps. I did look up 183rd and Arthur on Google Street View (what a great tool for these questions) and I believe you parked adjacent to St. Barnabas Hospital. I did see an “unmarked” ramp which is about 50 feet south of a marked crosswalk. So I could see how someone would miss the ramp because there is a nearby crosswalk. I am also asking the D.O.T. to review the intersection design to make the pedestrian ramp more visible.
Sam Schwartz, a former first deputy commissioner of city transportation, is president and C.E.O. of Sam Schwartz Engineering, a traffic engineering consulting firm to private and public entities including the Port Authority at the World Trade Center site. Email your questions to TransitSam@DowntownExpress.com.