Now I know better. But there was a time not too long ago when I nearly rammed into the back of a car after the driver suddenly slammed on the brakes in morning rush traffic — for a parking spot. I didn’t know the game before. Now I do. And for those of us who don’t play it, but instead get played, it’s annoying.
The problem spot is along Cherry heading into downtown (westbound) between 17th and 15th, near the hospital. For awhile, that small stretch of Cherry has been one of the few places where parking spots are FREE, with NO hourly limit. BUT there’s supposed to be no parking between 7-9 am. It’s officially a tow-away zone. What happens? In the mad scramble to secure one of those prized spots before anyone else, frantic drivers will abruptly pull into one as early as 8:45, jamming up one of the two lanes heading into the city. All it takes is one driver doing it, and within a minute or two, dozens of others drivers (who have been circling the blocks in wait) dive right in. They’ll then wait inside their cars until they’re in the clear. Commuting drivers have to slam on the breaks. Buses have to quickly lumber into the left lane. Horns are honked. Close calls are made. It’s a mess, and it’s illegal.
Police have told me they have a hard time nabbing offending parkers, namely because officers would have to be RIGHT THERE at the time of the offense since there’s only about a 10-15 minute window when it happens. At 9 am, the parking is completely legal. And it’s beloved. I’ve watched doctors and nurses and staff migrate out of the hospital just to move their cars into one of the spots. A daily, minor inconvenience for a primo, all-day, free parking place.
It seems like it’s a matter of time before the city makes that remaining area of Cherry a paid, 2-hour limit section; blocks on either end already are. Until then, the parking sharks keep at it. (BTW: There’s no parking on that same area of Cherry near the hospital heading EASTBOUND from 4-6 pm, but the same thing happens — though not as badly — as drivers will shut down the right lane by parking as early as 5:45. Good times.)
So.. have you nearly slammed into another car in the morning because of this? Or.. are you one of the parkers who does it? Please share.
The same scenario plays out on E. John/E. Olive way just before 9AM: it’s more spread out because there are more spaces, and people are going to take the bus downtown.
Occasionally Parking Enforcement is around…
The same thing happens on Eastbound Madison between downtown and Broadway after 5:45. People block the right lane and the rest of the drivers pile up in a left lane traffic jam. And nobody even honks at the selfish park-ers! I’m very happy to say that I saw one of them getting towed away the other day!
I too have wondered why that section of Cherry doesn’t require 2-hour paid parking. Seems like an oversight.
The city is very aggressive about enforcing the no parking rule on the south side of Cherry after 4 pm. I’ve seen citations being written at 4:05, and a fleet of tow trucks move in at 4:10. I’m impressed with how quickly they can tow cars.
I live a block away from the worst of the parking shark area and it’s aggravating to say the least. Not only do you have people driving very slowly looking for parking, suddenly veering off the lane and then veering back in when they realize you don’t have a spot, but the people who sit in their cars and wait for the zone time to clear are the worst. I pulled up right behind one and honked my horn, but it doesn’t really do anything and I end up feeling more pissed off and frustrated than I would have had I just ignored it and let it go. It’s really ridiculous, but I don’t think there’s really anyway to solve the problem unless they employ a parking cop who is dedicated to that area during those specific time frames. I’m not feeling hopeful that would ever happen!
The Squire Park Community Council proposed a “road diet” on Cherry, which would make the street one lane each direction with a 2-way left-turn lane, and get rid of the on-street parking. This could include a bike lane, better pedestrian amenities including curb bulbs for visibility, and possibly even wider sidewalks.
I would encourage to keep calling Parking Enforcement, since as SPD will tell you, resources are deployed in large part on volume of calls. Since it sounds like it’s primarily Swedish employees who are jockeying for these spots, if enough tickets are written perhaps the message will be sent. Additionally, contacting the City Council to complain won’t hurt, and may speed the addition of metered parking on that stretch of Cherry.
Oh – and it’s amazing how many tow trucks can be deployed when the City’s heart is in it :) I used to work down off Elliott toward the north end of downtown, and there would be tow trucks out almost every day to keep the curb lanes clear during rush hour.