Step 1: Learn the rules of alternate-side parking, NYC's fender-bending dance of death
Alternate-side parking refers to the clearing of parked cars on New York City streets, usually once or twice a week in most neighborhoods across the five boroughs, to accommodate the Department of Sanitation's street-sweeping schedule. It's overseen by the Department of Transportation and is a ubiquitous part of living in the Big Apple if you regularly drive a car. You can get ticketed if you don't follow the rules and move your car (often early in the morning or late at night) out of its parking space for the duration of time prescribed on signs on the street you originally chose to park on (see the photo above).
Parking signs. Not all parking spots are created equally. In addition to the typical alternate-side parking sign that you'll find on most streets, here are what some of the parking rules are for other signs you'll see on the street. Violating any of these during the times listed on the signs could also run the risk of a ticket.
- No Stopping: You cannot stop to drop off/pick up passengers, load/unload packages or luggage, or wait with your car.
- No Standing: You can stop to drop off/pick up passengers, but cannot load/unload packages or luggage or wait with your car.
- No Parking: You can stop to drop off/pick up passengers or load/unload packages or luggage, but you cannot wait with your car.
Hydrants. The rule is to give 15ft from either side of the hydrant, and though folks outside my apartment building are constantly parked in front of ours, I promise you, you will get ticketed.
Double parking. It's illegal at all times, including during street-cleaning days, despite a persistent myth to the contrary and whatever shenanigans your neighbors pull. As an adult committed to common human decency, I can't recommend it.
Legal holidays. On major legal holidays, standing, stopping, and parking sign rules are generally suspended except in cases where the signs say they are in effect seven days a week, i.e. "No Standing Anytime." (See below for a full distinction between legal and religious holidays.)
Towing. In addition to getting a ticket, your car can 100% get towed in New York if it is parked or operated anywhere illegally or has missing or expired inspection or registration stickers. Them's the brakes [not sic].