Pick a parking sign in D.C.
The District's varied rules on parking can be confusing enough as drivers move from place to place across the city, but this letter and photo show me that even in just one spot they can be baffling.
Dear Dr Gridlock:
On Constitution Avenue NW between 10th and 12th streets in front of the Natural History Museum, where I saw some poor tourist's car towed away at 5 p.m., the street signs give contradictory parking hours.
On top of the pole a sign reads "No parking 4:00 to 6:30." Below that, another sign reads, "Two hour parking 9:30 to 6:30."
I wonder how long these signs have been in place?
-- Suzanne McIntire, Arlington
The lower sign, the green and white one, includes the latest version of the District's street parking rules, allowing drivers to park for extended times in the evenings as long as they pay for the time. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty made that change in June to accommodate people who were spending the evening at a restaurant, a show or other event and needed to park beyond the two hour limit imposed in many areas in January, when the District adjusted its street parking rules.
A driver in a hurry might find it challenging enough to absorb all the information in that sign. But then there's the top one, an older sign meant to clear the avenue for traffic during rush hours. That's a fine thing to do.
McIntire says that the District does indeed start ticketing and towing on the avenue after 4 p.m. on weekdays, something that will strike many commuters as good news. It's just that it bans parking during some of the afternoon time when the lower sign would seem to permit it.
The District Department of Transportation is aware of the problem and a work order has been issued to get some replacement signs reflecting the fact that parking is banned during the afternoon rush, just as the red and white sign declares, said John Lisle, a spokesman for the department.
What to do in the meantime, or if you encounter a similar conflict elsewhere?
"The best advice we can give anyone about parking, when there is an apparent conflict in the signage, is that you should always abide by the most restrictive sign," Lisle said. "For example, if one sign says you can park in a space during rush hour and another says you can't, you would be wise to find another place to park or you run the risk of getting a ticket."
| July 30, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories: District, Driving | Tags: DDOT, Dr. Gridlock
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