There are so many questions hovering over NYC this summer: will there be a spike in new cases of COVID-19 as things reopen? How will restaurants survive with limited service? Will people start using the subway again? How will we be able to tell legal fireworks from illegal fireworks? But during his morning press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio turned his attention to what he called an "everyday, kitchen table issue" that he said a lot of New Yorkers complain to him about: alternate side parking.
But forget everything you thought you knew about alternate side parking, because de Blasio is ready to disrupt the system and radically alter the way transportation works in this city. And he's going to completely change the status quo by...changing alternate side parking to only once a week...for at least a week...but maybe longer?
"Here's the reality: alternate side parking has been done the same way for a long, long time," de Blasio said, talking about the frustrations New Yorkers have had with it. "This needs to change. So we're about to make the biggest change to alternate side parking in the last two decades: we're going to have a new rule where New Yorkers only have to move their cars once a week when alternate side parking is in effect."
Alternate side parking is currently suspended this week, but it will be coming back starting June 29th for a week, during which New Yorkers only have to move their cars on the latest day posted on the street sign (see the slide below). And if it goes well, de Blasio hopes to make this change permanent (whenever alternate side parking is in effect, of course—it will continued to be suspended at other points this summer).
"We're going to do that for one week, see how it goes, and we're gonna watch this in the course of the summer as we get on toward Labor Day, and see if it's something we can make a long term new rule," de Blasio added. "I like it, I hope this will prove to be as common sense as I think it is, and be something we can institute long term."
According to the most recent census data, about 45 percent of all households in the city own a car (and almost 3 percent own three or more cars). However, car ownership has steadily risen over the course of de Blasio's term in office. And with public transportation ridership down significantly because of coronavirus fears, car ridership is expected to increase significantly above pre-pandemic levels. Congestion pricing was supposed to go into effect as early as this January, though it is likely to be delayed now.
Mayor de Blasio has not outlined a vision for how he’d like commuters to move around the re-opened city. At a press conference at the start of the month, he said New Yorkers need to be “honest” and recognize that some people prefer cars. “For the next few months, people are going to make their own choices,” he said. “Some people are going to be comfortable with mass transit, some are not. We just have to be honest and real about that.”
The Department of Transportation has also conceded that traffic will likely increase in the coming months: “There may be a combination of factors, including which industries recover faster and other policy choices, but it is likely that people have concerns with the levels of crowding often experienced on public transit. Obviously, this is a major concern for New York City, as so much of our travel is reliant on public transportation,” a spokesperson for the DOT wrote in a statement.