Join the party! Despite the thousands of signs on every street for no parking, disabled parking, paid parking, and free parking, you can still violate the parking rules even when you think you aren’t. Here are a few things to watch for.
First, parking is allowed after a “parking allowed” sign, not before it. So on that vast empty street with a parking sign in the middle, you can only park your car on the far side of the sign, not the vast empty space before it. No, we don’t know why.
Second, the parking signs have pictograms that show you how to park: parallel to the curb, perpendicular to the curb, up on the sidewalk, or even half-way up on the curb — yes, there really is a pictogram of a car with two wheels on the curb that looks like it’s about to tip over. Think of it as a citywide game of Simon Says and do exactly what the pictogram shows.
Third, if there are circles with the numbers 10, 25 and 50, that means it’s paid parking. Use one of the hard-to-find pay stations or your cell. If you find a pay station, follow the directions on the screen and use your credit card. To use your cell phone, find the parking zone number — on one of the parking sign poles — and then send a message to 7757: zone number*your full license plate number* how many hours you want to park. It should look something like this: 4014*р123оa197*3, which means that in zone 4104 a car with license plate p123oa197 is parking for three hours. You’ll get a reply asking you to confirm by sending any message in reply except the numeral 0 (that cancels it).
And finally, there appears to be a disagreement between the law on paper and the law used by the tow trucks. Even though the law states that signs take precedence over markings on the street, the guys hauling your car away don’t always see it that way. So check to be sure there is no yellow line in front of the spot you want to park in. Even if the parking place is delineated with white lines and after the parking-allowed sign, that yellow line could get you hauled off. Also check to make sure you’re not about to park in a disabled parking space, often only drawn on the roadway under slush, snow, and dirt.
And remember: a sign with a big X and a tow truck hauling away a car that looks just like yours means: we’re not kidding. Unless you fancy an evening of phone calls, cab rides across the city to impound lots, and massive fines, don’t park there.