By JEAN HELLER
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000
Longer vehicles not fit for on-street parking
We saw one of St. Petersburg's crack traffic enforcement people ticketing a vehicle the other day on a downtown street. We assumed some poor schmo had forgotten that he was parked in a two-hour zone and was going to have to pay $17.50 for the privilege of overtime parking.
Then Jessie noticed that there was no white chalk on the back tire.
For those of you who are uninitiated, the parking enforcement folks whip around town in their cute little carts banging chalk onto the rear tires of parked cars. Then they come back an hour or two hours later, after the posted parking limitation has expired, and if your chalked tire is still there, you will find a luminescent green envelope under a wiper with notification that you have volunteered to contribute to the city coffers.
But since there was no chalk on the tires of this truck, Jessie wondered at what might be going on.
So we asked.
It seems, the parking officer told us, that the vehicle, a pickup with a full-sized front seat and back seat in the cab and an extended bed, was longer than the parking space it occupied. Even though the right front wheel was up against the curb, the bed extended beyond the white lines delineating the space.
And that, friends, would cost the owner of the truck a nasty $34.
Parking guru Angelo Rao says the spaces are drawn to an angle distance of 19 feet from the curb, and it is assumed that two to three feet of the vehicle in front of the front wheels will overhang the curb. So vehicles that are less than 22 to 23 feet long should have no trouble fitting. And this includes some of the big sport utility vehicles, such as the Ford Excursion and the Chevrolet Suburban.
But extended trucks, some vans and a lot of delivery vehicles can't make it.
Some drivers try to compensate by putting the right front tire up on the curb, so the rear end doesn't stick out into through traffic lanes.
That will earn you one of those $34 fines, too, for being on the tree line.
You would get the same ticket for extending across the borders of a parallel space, too. Rao said most parallel spaces around the city are 22 feet long, although the spaces on each end of a block are cut to 19 feet (unless they are adjacent to neckouts) because it doesn't take as much room to maneuver in and out.
And, if you care, angle spaces are two feet wider than parallel spaces, so people getting out of angle-parked cars don't nick up the paint on the car next door.
But width doesn't seem to be the issue that length is. The limitation is particularly hard on the hundreds of construction workers downtown because so many of them drive extended vehicles, the parking officer told us.
"As more and more people are driving the bigger vehicles, it is becoming more and more of a problem, and we're aware of it, but I don't think there is anything we can do about it," he said. "We can't make the spaces longer and encroach on the through-traffic lanes.
"I think people who feel they need extra-large vehicles should consider putting them in lots or garages that might be able to accommodate them. We can't do it on the street."
We have one suggestion, though it won't work for everyone. If you are part of a multi-vehicle family and you plan to come downtown, bring a car instead of that big old truck or van.
* * *
Those of you who recall our brush with doom at Shore Acres last week might be surprised to learn that Jessie and I risked life, limb and further humiliation by returning there this week in search of yet another Eyeball Jiggler of the Week.
This one was called to our attention by Nancy Sanford, and it sounded so bad, so potentially dangerous, that we decided the possibility of getting lost inside Shore Acres twice in as many weeks should not stand in our way.
Heavily stocked with candy corn left over from Halloween, which we dropped in our tracks like giant breadcrumbs, we made our way carefully to the intersection of Connecticut and Carson NE where, in the southbound lane of Carson just before it intersects with Connecticut, we found the offender.
It is a stormwater drain that extends from the curb out into the street but appears to have sunk three or four inches into the pavement. The fact that the pavement along the edges of the drain is chewed up pretty badly is evidence that more than one vehicle has endured an axle-rattling, tire-denting close encounter with the storm drain from heck.
If you are a resident of Shore Acres who commutes regularly through the area of Carson and Connecticut, you probably are aware already that you need to hug the centerline of the street to avoid the rude awakening.
If you are sufficiently in love with mazes to visit Shore Acres to test your sense of direction, don't cut that right turn from Carson onto Connecticut too closely. Okay?
* * *
It's hard to believe that next week is Thanksgiving already. In preparation for the busiest shopping and partying season of the year, a group of city officials is getting together with Jessie and me to talk about ways for you to avoid congestion and accidents. We, who have never been able to keep a secret, will pass those tips along to you over the next few weeks.
- Dr. Delay can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, by fax at (727) 893-8675 or by snail mail at 490 First Ave., S, St. Petersburg 33701.
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