Volume 22, Number 38 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 29 - February 4, 2010
By Sam Schwartz
Dear Transit Sam,
On Grand St. between Sixth Ave. and Varick St., there are designated spaces framed out in paint next to the bike lane. Two of these spaces are in front of a hydrant about ten feet from the curb (traffic rules state no parking less than 15 feet from a hydrant). I received a ticket for parking too close to the hydrant. Are the rules for parking at a hydrant superseded by the painted lines for the spots next to the bike lane? This is a ticket trap waiting to happen so please clarify. Should I plead not guilty? Thanks for your help.
Richard, Broome St.
On the Richter scale of parking conundrums, this one ranks a 9.5 out of 10. Great question! It threw Transit Sam (and his traffic scholar group) for a loop. I got every answer on the books including yes, no and maybe. Here’s the conclusion I came to:
N.Y.C. Traffic Rule Section 4-08 (e) describes a fire hydrant as a “general no stopping zone, unless otherwise indicted by posted signs, markings or other traffic control devices.” Subsection (2) explains you cannot park “within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, unless otherwise indicated by signs or parking meters...” I looked at the markings and it appears to me that they clearly lay out where you can and cannot park near hydrants and curb cuts in some places but not in the area where you got the ticket. Between Broadway and Crosby St., the N.Y.C. Dept. of Transportation painted out the area adjacent to the hydrant making it clear you should not park there. But where you parked (above photo), there is no such demarcation. Perhaps the Dept. of Transportation painted them incorrectly (perhaps not) but that should, by my reading of the rules, allow you to park there. Therefore, given the confusion regarding the legality of the spot, I don’t think you should’ve been issued a ticket (a few of my friends in N.Y.P.D. also concur). I would plead not guilty and explain to the judge what happened. Photos will help, including a shot of the street signs with the spots in question in the background, followed by closeups of the hydrant. You should also submit a copy of this article.
N.Y.C. D.O.T. tells me they will be placing similar markings at the two spots in front of the hydrant near Varick to eliminate confusion and provide safe and adequate Fire Department access to the hydrant.
Send any and all comments, questions or concerns to TransitSam@downtownexpress.com. We’ll get to the bottom of all your Downtown transit-related needs.
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.
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