Alternate Side Parking Will Have ‘Biggest Change in Decades,’ Shifting to Once a Week

The twice-weekly ritual that many Upper West Siders have practiced for decades is about to change. Instead of sitting in their cars for more than an hour twice a week, people can do it once a week.

Mayor de Blasio announced on Tuesday that when alternate side parking returns on June 29, street-cleaning will now happen just once a week. de Blasio called it the “biggest change in alternate side of the street parking in two decades.”

On streets that are usually cleaned two or three times a week, they will only be cleaned on the last day visible on the sign (so Thursday for a Tuesday-Thursday block). This schedule will stay in place through the summer and then the city will review it to see if it should remain in the longer-term.

Now what will Upper West Siders do with all that extra time?

Photo via flickr.

NEWS | 54 comments | permalink
    1. JB says:

      This is bad news. Loved those 3 hours every week when my wife would go sit in the car.

    2. Sid says:

      Goes to show how much street space we sacrifice for people to leave their cars on the street for extended time at zero cost.

      • C says:

        Perfect time to put residential parking stickers into effect. Agree!

      • SM says:

        I’m continuously astounded by people who say car owners pay nothing for parking on the street.
        What about license fees, registration fees, gasoline taxes, tolls, and lots of unnecessary fines?
        You do know that roads are maintained by gasoline taxes, right?

        It’s actually bike riders who get a free pass … tax payer funded maintenance of bike lanes, no registration fees, etc. It’s the definition of what is known in economics of the free rider principal.

        You also realize that the bike lanes are UNOCCUPIED 90+% of the time, right? Night time hours? zero usage. Winter time? Almost zero. Do the math.

        That’s great use of public space (for free, BTW), right?

        Put a residential permit fee for parking and be done with it. Everybody will pay.

        • Sid says:

          Hi SM,

          Automobile “use taxes,” like registration and gas taxes, go almost entirely toward funding state and federal highway expenses.

          Total user fees (including tolls) account for only 50.4 percent of all road funding in the US.

          When you consider that the money predominantly goes toward highways, you realize local city roads—the ones most used by cyclists when we ride—are barely funded this way.

          So where does the rest of the money for all roads, and the majority of funding for local roads, come from? Two broad sources: general taxes and bonds. General taxes include things like property tax, income tax, and state and local sales taxes. So if you own a home, have a job or buy, well, anything, you contribute to road funding whether you have a car or not.

        • Mark P says:

          “90%+, zero, almost zero?” Says who? Biased you? What math??

          Let’s stipulate that there are fewer bikes in bike lanes than cars in car lanes. Something we can agree on without false hyperbole. That doesn’t make them bad. It’s on you to use them. Want to avoid congestion, polluting the earth, close contact with the possibly sick? Get on a bike. I ride them year round. It’s simple: dress exactly the same as you would for walking outside. If you don’t take advantage, it’s on you.

          • Josh P. says:

            I actually don’t agree with this at all. Parking lanes and traffic lanes are both used by cars so people tend to conflate them, but they have very different usage patterns. New York traffic lanes are pretty heavily used and I don’t think anyone is suggesting removing them. Parking lanes on the other hand are heavily “occupied” but they aren’t actually used by very many *people*.
            You can tell by how many people complain about Alternate Side Parking that most of these cars sit in one spot for a week or more.
            If you want to see which one is used more, you should see how many bikes ride by vs how many people pull into or out of adjacent parking spots. I would be happy to bet that every bike lane on the UWS is more busier than the closest parking lane.

        • NPK says:

          Thank you SM! So tired of the discrimination against car owners

        • Nj says:

          Awesome rebuttal!

        • Josh P. says:

          I always say people say “parking isn’t free, I pay for x, y, and z!” I’ve never seen anyone put numbers to what they actually pay though. It’s kind of meaningless to say you pay for something, and then never actually say how much you pay.

      • Mike says:

        Sid — when I was younger, I would’ve agreed with you 100%. Was no sweat to just take the subway everywhere. But it’s tougher for families to be 100% carless. Things like getting to grandmas on Long Island would become next to impossible. Or a kid’s soccer game in NJ. Or if your wife works two days a week in Westchester. You get the point. Anyhow, a lot of the people with cars on the UWS are families (and maybe senior citizens to some extent), and I think you’d end up chasing a lot of them out if you made it impossible to park. Except wealthy families who can pay $750+ a month for a garage (which would probably go way up if you banned all street parking).

        • Sid says:

          Go ahead and own a car! I’m not against. I am only suggesting that you get a garage to keep it in. Car owners in NYC, and Manhattan especially, are generally earn more than twice than those who rely on public transportation, so this whole ‘I can afford the car, insurance, gas, etc. but not a place to store it’ argument is silly.

          • MaryC says:

            I don’t have a car now, but when I did, it was more than 10 years old. Insurance was very low and so was gas because I used it mostly to visit elderly relatives and an occasional work errand. Parking in a garage would have cost 10 times my other car expenses so it is very possible to afford having a car but not the garage itself. I think that parking for locals only in their own neighborhood at night makes sense, with a reasonable fee. But saying that you can’t or shouldn’t have a car at all is making a judgement on other people’s choices

            • Jay says:

              Garage parking is the cost of owning a vehicle and represents the true cost of parking.

              If the city charged for public space for people to leave their private property based on the market rates (garage rates), we do so much benefit for the city as a whole.

          • Paula Cohen says:

            Oh my, where do you get your info? I’ll give you a list of lower- middle class people and seniors who own cars because we need to. People who make a lot of money can afford to rent or use zip cars. I’m a driver and a biker – your bias and made up magical thinking “facts” don’t hold up in real life.

        • Stu says:

          We were a family that got a car once we had kids. I did the alternate side dance for a number of years and became an expert at the game and the players. Actually forged a number of “parking friendships” with folks who were also doing the dance. First, you have a ton of doormen and supers who have long been playing the game for their tenants (for a fee) and workers. They and their staff literally sit out there and move cars back and forth. Then you have a whole bunch of long-time residents who skew older in age (say over 50) who occasionally use a car, and simply move their cars twice a week, doing the double park game. Most either do not work, or work part-time or on a strange schedule that allows them to spend their time doing it. Very few were younger residents. Almost all our friends with kids who similarly have cars pay for parking lots. This might be a reflection of working full-time and not having the time to do it, or having the additional income to afford a parking lot.
          In my opinion this will not affect the parking situation very much as parked cars literally just get moved from one side to another. No new spots are opened up. Anyone who currently comes in to the neighborhood and needs a spot, has to sit in their car for an hour+ in order to find a spot — that rarely happens. The only folks that will get affected are building workers who park their vans on the alternate side and have an employee or watch it during the hour. They will just double park their vans, causing traffic issues.

      • Nevets K says:

        Must repeat:
        Charge for people to walk their dogs. They take up valuable public sidewalk space. And many dogs foul the sidewalks – a cost that many non-dog owners bear.
        Charge for people to ride their bikes on the streets and in the parks. They take up valuable public street and park space.
        Charge for school kids walking to school. They take up valuable public sidewalk space – and they often bunch together as they walk and talk in groups.
        Charge for people walking down and up the subway stairs. Maybe charge them double for walking up. They take up valuable subway stair space.

        • Jay says:

          It’s a shame that you are teaching future generations.

          • Nevets K says:

            It’s a shame provincialism wasn’t taught at your school!
            And good job defending your provincial position. Well done.
            And I could use the stipend that “Transportation Alternatives” or another anti-community group is paying you!

            • Jay says:

              Funny. You clearly don’t know what provincialism is considering you’re the one practicing it.

              You know you’ve lost an argument when your only argument is that people opposed to your viewpoint are getting paid…

              Thanks for the laugh.

    3. Abc says:

      My grandma drives to the neighborhood because she knows she can find a spot during alternate side. Now theres one less day a week of grandma.

    4. Mark Moore says:

      In other words, we don’t have the money to clean the streets twice a week any more. Maybe that will change in a few months but we don’t know.

      • Mike says:

        Mark Moore – Well, it’s true there’s a big budget shortfall now (with the coronavirus situation cutting into revenue from taxes). If you have to cut something, I’d say this would be a decent place to start. Anyhow, I don’t think sweeping twice a week vs once makes a big difference, at least that I can see…

      • Cheryl Rosenberg says:

        So true! 22,000 lost jobs soon.

    5. Z says:

      While people who own cars but never use them and store them on the street will love this, to me this is bad news. This will only hurt those in the neighborhood that actually need and use their cars. My job requires me to be outside the city sometimes as early 4am when my public transit options are limited, that’s the only reason I own one and cannot afford a garage. Last thing we need is more cars sitting for free on the street not moving. Alternate side keeps traffic in this neighborhood moving and also provides space during the day for contractors, etc that park on the street.

      I can tell you that Wednesday (the only day my block doesn’t have street cleaning currently) is the most congested day of the week during business hours….

      • Keith says:

        We’ll have to see if how this works out. They’re trying it for the summer.

        Right now I find that its pretty easy to find a place to park any time. That’s partly because its summer, and partly,I think, because people are not so concerned about finding the right place to optimize their alternate sides. So maybe one day a week will work out better.

    6. UWS Driver says:

      Another day for the car-hating bike-lane obsessed transportation alternatives elitist cabal to list their boring talking points ad nauseum.

      We need cars to be safe in the pandemic rather than taking buses or subways. No we can’t all ride a bike. And. No. We do not need to make room for smelly noisy construction/destruction contractors’ trucks.

    7. Mark Moskow says:

      Have you really watched those street-cleaners? They are almost useless. The street looks about as dirty after they are done than they did prior. If you went to alternate side once per month it probably wouldn’t look any cleaner. My question is, will Diblasio furlough the street clear operators for those few months of the summer? If not, where are the savings?

    8. your_neighbor says:

      One thing that people are forgetting is that alternate side of the street parking generates an enormous amount of money for the city budget.
      More than enough to open the pools in less well off neighborhoods and more than enough to give those 75,000 kids city funded summer jobs and internships.

      Maybe they can balance it out by doubling parking fines and not allowing that 90 minutes of unoccupied vehicle double parking during the alternate side period.

    9. EdNY says:

      How about alternate-side-of-the-issue comments on street parking? Those in favor – Tuesdays. Those opposed – Thursdays. If you comment on the wrong day, you get ticketed or towed,, or hit by a cyclist going the wrong way looking at his phone.

    10. STOPSID says:

      People like Sid are out of touch with what is going on in reality. He sits behind his device wagging his finger. I’m sick of it. He is the definitive definition of lonely. No wonder this country is being led by a tyrant. Get a grip.

    11. Mary Ramsay says:

      What about the other boroughs that unnecessarily have 2 days side parking rules?

    12. CV says:

      Why do those parking spots need to be cleaned weekly? Clean up after yourself everybody!

    13. MJC says:


    14. Ilana says:

      Question- which side gets cleaned on that Thursday? There are two sides, arent there?

    15. Equnox says:

      THANK GOD this nightmare will be reduced by a day! Wouldn’t mind so much if streets were actually CLEANED but they are NOT. I’m grateful for this and there’s finally ONE thing I can say good about the most useless Mayor in NYC history.

    16. IJ says:

      I lived in London until 2002 for 15 years. We had the same system as we have on the UWS – free parking. There was not even street cleaning days (it was done manually). It was impossible to find parking, you would circle around for an hour at least. Then they introduced resident’s parking for around $100/year – over night you were able to park almost in front of your building any time of day. And many more people own car in London than in NY. In any case, point is that more than 50% of the cars parked are not residents, especially during the day. Solution is to introduce resident parking!

    17. RW says:

      It is already terrible for commuters who need to use their cars daily.
      This is going to make it impossible.
      Time for residential parking stickers.

    18. Kindly Dr dave says:

      Our alternate parking schedule was instituted as a punishment for the West Side not voting for Giuliani. At the time the East Side Republicans only had to move once. Rudy typically “improved” our streets in order to make his opponents more miserable. (He hasn’t changed.)

    19. Tzvi says:

      Are they going to clean one side or both?

    20. Linda Berkowicz says:

      On a slightly different point than the previous comments, according to the new rules, streets will be cleaned on the last day visible on the sign. On the Upper West Side that will mean Thursday and Friday. Doesn’t seem to make great sense.

    21. David Vassar says:

      Motor vehicles are space-hogging, polluting, maddeningly noisy machines which violently kill or cripple thousands on NYC streets annually. FREE on-street parking should be totally ABOLISHED, just for starters. We should also institute ONE-SIDE street parking ONLY in order to free up space for many more protected bike lanes citywide plus enhancements benefiting pedestrians and other nonmotorists. NYC also needs to plant another million trees along streets and where possible on medians–for EVERYONE’S benefit.

    22. Wendy says:

      Great idea, he should have initiated this sooner – was waiting for this announcement. I was around for the change from 3 to 2 days a week under Dinkins. Paradoxicdally, the less days parking bans are in effect, the more relaxed people feel about moving their cars and freeing up spots.

    23. Alex Brown says:

      SM- how many people in the UWS do you think own cars but don’t bring them into the city? I’m going to assume a fair amount and therefore based on your logic, someone like me is subsidizing your parking.

      Regardless, your solution to the problem is residential permits. That’s certainly an idea but that is going to make it more attractive for people to bring in their cars. Do you only hand out as many permits as there are car spots (based on capitalism- that fee would come out to the same as a parking garage unless you want me to subsidize part of that fee for you) or do you give one to whoever wants one and we’re back to what it is currently.

      Lastly, while I’d love to see less parking, the new rule makes it easier for me to bring in my car so I’m going to do that. Can’t wait to park it > move it once a week > and use it maybe twice a month. What a great use of space.

    24. RJC says:

      Why is no one commenting on the carbon foot print reduction issue. Impossible when cars have to be started and idle even part of the time waiting for a spot. Thrilled it went to 1x a week despite mayor BLAZE never giving that as a reason. A move to neighborhood permit parking and we get real reduction from emissions. C’mon UWS’ers with all the causes. The air isn’t a good one? Only about $ & wealth & garages?

    25. steve says:

      That’s great now we can have dirtier streets all week long. With the summer heat, the increased smells of garbage in the gutters. Not to mention that we will need less meter maids and the city will loose the revenue of the ticket money.