Parking in New York City – Always a Challenge, Getting Worse – Part 2


Parking in New York City – Always a Challenge, Getting Worse – Part 2

Most cities have lofty goals, and New York is no different. In 2022, the mayor and governor convened a panel and process titled, “Making New York Work for Everyone.” The panel seeks to make New York “reflect an integrated vision for how NYC can establish itself as the best place to work in the new world of the 21st century.” The action plan calls for open streets, bike lanes, and rebuilding the ridership of public transit.


Virtually every major city is seeking to reduce vehicular traffic, especially single occupancy vehicles. At the same time, governments are promoting the transition from internal combustion vehicles (ICE) to electric powered (EV) vehicles. However, the demand for EVs has declined significantly. When the Cadillac Lyrica EV was first introduced, there was a waiting list of over a year to purchase one. Now, Cadillac is offering $7,500 incentives and immediate delivery. 


(Full disclosure: I bought a Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid in 2013, and two years ago rented a Tesla to see how I liked an EV. On a round trip to Pittsburgh from Washington, I ran out of battery twice, going and coming and going. My wife said, “We’re getting another plug-in,” and sure enough, we now own a Hyundai Santa Fe plug-in and have no range anxiety. We plug in at night and 90 percent of our local travel is battery-powered.)


I spoke to a couple of representatives from ParkNYC, the city agency responsible for meter parking in the city. They referred me to the Curb Management Action Plan ( and I spoke to a few managers of Business Improvement Districts. The sense I get is that, from the mayor’s office on down to the local level, New York is working hard to recover from the impact of COVID and the massive shift to teleworking. BID managers tell me that local businesses and their employees find the ParkNYC app helpful and useable. 


However, parking enforcement is still the job of NYPD, and while BIDs feel there is communication between and collaboration with police, fire, and the small business departments, what is not clear is this question: With regard to parking, is the primary goal enforcement, revenue generation, economic development, or customer service? Reading the major plans (and New York is nothing if it isn’t a planning city) the priority isn’t clear. 


Ydanis Rodriguez is the Department of Transportation Commissioner and reports directly to the mayor. He has a political background, and has gained knowledge of transportation through public service. The good news is that individuals or businesses with parking concerns can communicate directly with his office through the DOT website. 


I approached my recent visit to New York from two perspectives: First, as an ordinary visitor unfamiliar with the problems any visitor would face; and second, as a parking professional with more than 40 years in parking management, operations and consulting. 


Here are a few conclusions:


New York’s parking problems are manageable, but not solvable. The folks at DOT and ParkNYC are intelligent professionals who are working in a massive bureaucracy, and trying to carry out the goals set by the recent plans. 


Parking, like everything in New York, is subject to political pressure. There are innumerable pressure groups – neighborhood organizations, special interest groups, and national associations that want to influence policy.


One urban expert suggested that New York is trying, with some success, to provide people with options – from private automobiles to public transit, from bike share and scooter share to car share and bike lanes. But making the best choices requires planning your trip -whether it’s a short walk to the corner bodega or an all-day excursion to a Manhattan museum.


New York, like many other cities, has been increasing the number of bike lanes and removing on-street parking at a time when there is more demand for curb parking. However, DOT studies show that 70 percent of New Yorkers don’t own a bike or never ride a bike. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine someone doing Christmas shopping in December on a bike, while trying to transport large packages.


The dramatic increase of delivery vehicles and ride-sharing vehicles has made double-parking a way of life in New York. I visit the city frequently (my son lives in Brooklyn) and I never see double-parked cars or trucks being ticketed or warned. 


A very recent article in Atlantic Magazine described New York as “too expensive to visit anymore.” I know that is not helpful publicity for America’s flagship city. 


A former DOT official explained that the issue is complicated, but keep in mind that parking has long been a challenge in many neighborhoods. First, there are just more vehicles in the city. During the pandemic, many folks shunned mass transit and, although ridership has come back somewhat, there are still folks who do not want to ride subways and buses. There are also many more “for hire”, cars in circulation in the “outer” boroughs, as the Uber and Lyft apps have made it much easier to call for a car. There are over 100,000 of these, non-medallioned, vehicles now in the city compared to a few years ago.


Deliveries create another problem. In addition to commercial deliveries, there are now many more Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS, and Fresh Direct trucks in circulation and many of them double park, with little enforcement, even where there are truck loading zones and other open curbside parking available.


The city’s initiative to create a more bike and pedestrian friendly street environment has resulted in the removal of many thousands of parking spaces, many in already parking challenged areas. Bike lanes, bike parking racks, widened sidewalks, expanded pedestrian walkways in what were formerly traffic lanes, busways, “parklets” and even, temporarily or totally closed streets, also contribute to the lack of available parking. With the advent of COVID and the plight of neighborhood restaurants, the city has permitted many more sidewalk and roadway cafes. Bay Ridge and Sunset Park are particularly heavily populated with these facilities. 


And then there is the issue of street roadway and utility work – necessary capital construction and repair of street infrastructure. There are also some lesser issues like movie shoots and productions that temporarily call for street closures. 


David Feehan, President, Civitas Consultants can be reached at

Article contributed by:
David Feehan, Civitas Consultants
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