Saturday, March 13, 2010

Boston Parking-- It's a Complicated Science

Beacon Street at Joy
March 12, 2010

I tell people that Boston residents are nice, unless you get behind the wheel of a car. In a similar way, Boston is a navigable city, unless you decide to drive. And if you want to park on the street, good luck.

Having lived in Boston since 1999, and having a job out of the city during that time, I consider myself a master of Boston parking. On Beacon Hill, parking is at a premium. The local Beacon Hill Civic Association has a parking committee, with a charter that basically boils down to preservation of the precious parking spaces.

Generally speaking, if you find an open parking spot on Beacon Hill, the driver has to assume there is something wrong with it. After deftly performing a parallel park into an open space, I get out of the car and spend a few minutes investigating the spot. I generally follow a mental checklist:
  • Is there a fire hydrant nearby,
  • Is street cleaning scheduled for anytime when the car will be there,
  • Are there any temporary "no parking" signs posted for a residential move-in or construction,
  • Are there any temporary signs on the ground nearby, indicating they were posted and fell down,
  • Am I really on a street that is a Beacon Hill residential street,
  • Are there parking tickets on any cars nearby, and if so, why,
  • Is there anyone nearby watching me, giving me a suspicious look as if to ask "why are you thinking of parking there?"
In short, I try to think of every possible reason why a spot may not be legitimate, and once I am satisfied, I leave the car.

Given the scarcity of parking spaces in Beacon Hill, changes in parking rules have a dramatic effect. This is especially true for "reverse-commuters" like me, who work out of the city and need their cars each day. Several years ago, the City of Boston changed the meters on Charles Street, extending the meter hours from 6 p.m. at night until 8 p.m. at night. Simple change, but a major impact on me. Since then, I actively avoid parking on Charles Street, since I typically get home before 8 p.m. and would need to feed the meter until 8.

Well, this week, I noticed a change that, for me at least, has a significant positive effect. I typically park on Beacon Street, by the Boston Common, which during the week offers parking spaces that are zoned for residents during the evening hours only. This is perfect for me, as I drive to Waltham each morning for work. Up until this week, however, parking on Beacon Street was inconvenient on the weekends, as I would need to get out of bed early to move my car when the hours for resident parking there expired.

Well, as you can clearly see from the new signs that are posted on Beacon Street and are pictured above, the residential parking now extends to the weekend days on Beacon Street. If you find the signs above confusing... well... I don't blame you. But the translation for me is simple---it's 9:16 on Saturday morning, and I don't need to worry about my car parked on Beacon Street.

Thank you to the City of Boston for a change that gives me more time to sleep!

1 comment:

ben said...

Hey Ross -- If you'd attended the parking and traffic committee you'd have been sleeping in on Saturdays for months now.