Take Your Cones Off The Street!
Here in New England we are at the beginning of yet another winter storm. This year we have been attacked with words such as "smowmageddon," "Polar Vortex" and most recently "Bombogenesis." The fact that our media has nothing better to do than scare us into believing that each storm will bring the end of the world is annoying for sure, but what I find to be much more offensive is the fact that so many people think that it is somehow appropriate to save parking spaces for themselves and their extended families using traffic cones, chairs, or other items.
This is Illegal
Yes really. It is against the law to save yourself a parking space using an object on a public street either before, during or after a winter storm and there are actually several good reasons why. Let's take a look.
You Don't Own the Street
This is fairly simple. A public street is owned in common by everyone. This means that no individual has a greater legal right to occupy the street than any other person. Essentially this creates a first come, first serve environment. Public roads are maintained by the city you live in and this maintenance is funded through taxes, which are paid by everyone. Put simply, everyone pays for all of the roads and therefore is equally entitled to use them.
Placing an object to reserve a space that is not being occupied by your car is an example of claiming ownership. This would be similar to someone fencing off a section of a city park to prevent others from using it and then walking away. Everyone can see that this is ridiculous. So why then do we think it is okay to do on the street?
Here is a particularly brazen act of space saving. A bag, really?
It is Inefficient
This one may not be obvious at first. It might seem that a parking space is just a parking space and and that saving a specific spot does not necessarily interfere with others. It does. Take a look at this picture for a clear example.
In this photo no cars are occupying the parking spaces, but they are all reserved by chairs. Perhaps the people who own the chairs and have "reserved" themselves a parking space are all at work. But it doesn't really matter where they are, all that matters is that they are not in the spot.
Suppose for simplicity that these people work from 9-5 and place chairs out in the morning when they leave. Perhaps there is another person who wants to visit a friend or relative on this street at lunchtime. If there were no chairs, the person would have no trouble parking while on a lunch visit. They could then leave and the spot could be open again when the workers returned at 5. But because the chairs are preventing other cars from using the space when unoccupied by cars, it is inefficient.
I admit that it is frustrating to have "your" parking spot taken and have to look for or shovel a new spot. I really do understand, it has happened to me many times. But it is much worse for any given snowy city as a whole when individuals try to own public streets. This type of behavior should not be tolerated.
If you are trying to navigate a snowstorm and you happen to find that a parking space is occupied by a cone, chair or handbag, know that you have every right to move it and take the space. In fact, I urge you to do so in order to help reverse the sense of entitlement that Northern city dwellers feel during the snowy winter months.