New York City Street Parking Tutorial
This tutorial is for anyone who would like help navigating the New York City parking regulations webpage. You may also want to read our New York Parking Tips And Strategies.
Let’s assume 3 things about our quest to park for free in New York City:
- We plan to visit Times Square at 8 p.m. on a Saturday evening.
- We want to avoid Times Square’s traffic and that area’s difficult parking situation.
- We want to park on East 40th Street, between Park Ave. and Lexington Ave.
We plan to park in this part of Manhattan for 2 reasons:
- Times Square is only a 15 minute walk away.
- If we don’t want to walk, we can take the Shuttle (S) train from Grand Central to Times Square, or vice versa.
How To Find New York City Street Parking Rules
Go to the New York City Parking Regulations page. Look for the box titled “Sign Location.”
Select Manhattan for “Borough.”
In the box labeled “On Street” type “East 40 St.”
Press “Get Cross Streets.” A cross street is simply a street that intersects another street. Since we entered “East 40th St.,” the drop-down menus only show streets intersecting 40th Street on the East Side.
Choose “Park Ave.” from the “Cross Street 1” drop-down menu. Choose “Lexington Ave.” for “Cross Street 2.” Press “Search.” (If you make a mistake, press “Reset Location.”).
A small box appears after pressing “Search.” The first column is titled “Regulation Info.” Click the letter/number combination that corresponds to “North.” In this example, it reads “P-183572.” Note: On streets that run east-west (horizontally), you park on either the north or south sides of the street. On streets that run north-south (vertically), you park on either the east or west sides of the street.
When we click this letter/number combination, a larger box opens. This new box contains the actual text of all the parking signs on the north side of this street.
The first column reads “Distance From Intersection (ft).” This is the distance, in feet, each street sign is from the corner of Park Ave. (cross street #1). The middle column shows which way the arrows point on the sign. If this box is blank, it means the arrows point in both directions. On the right, the “Sign Description” column shows the actual text on every parking sign on that side of the street.
Let’s take a look at what the first sign on the list says. Under the “Distance From Intersection” column, it says “45.” This particular street sign is 45 feet from the corner of Park Ave. (cross street #1 in our example). The “Arrow Points” column is blank. This means that the arrows points in both directions. An arrow pointing both ways means that the regulation applies in both directions.
Look under the “Sign Description” column. This column contains the actual text (“Sign Description” in parking language) of the parking signs on that side of the street.
The first “Sign Description” reads:
NO STANDING EXCEPT COMMERCIAL VEHICLES METERED PARKING 3HR LIMIT 7AM-7PM EXCEPT SUNDAY” <——>
Huh? Let’s translate this sign into plain English. This sign says:
- Between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, only commercial vehicles are allowed to park on the north side of 40th St. between Park Ave. and Lexington Ave.
- Commercial vehicles must pay to park there Monday-Saturday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. They can pay for a maximum of 3 hours of parking at a time.
- From Monday through Saturday, non-commercial vehicles ( i.e. regular cars) can park there between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. without paying.
- On Sundays, any type of vehicle can park there at any time without paying.
- According to this sign, if we park there at 7 p.m. on Saturday, our car can legally remain there until 7 a.m. Monday morning without a problem. Scroll through these New York City parking signs to see the actual sign.
In this example, we only looked at one side of one street (the north side). When you look for parking on your own, look at parking regulations for both sides of the street: north and south (or east and west, if that is the case). Give yourself more options by looking up parking regulations for nearby streets as well.
Don’t Be Fashionably Late
Since we want to be in Times Square at 8 p.m. and free parking on our target street starts at 7 p.m., we should arrive on East 40th Street, between Park Ave. and Lexington Ave., as close to 6 p.m. as possible. By 6:30 p.m. it may already be to late to claim a spot. Why? Because most commercial vehiclesl have left long before 7 p.m.
So, if a commercial vehicle leaves at, say, 6:10 p.m., do you think that spot will stay empty until 7 p.m.? Not at all. Experienced NYC drivers will arrive early and sit in the spot until 7 p.m.
The key phrase is “sit in.” DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR before free parking starts! Some people take their chances, but they’re just making life easy for traffic enforcement agents.