Double parking is as much a part of Southie’s culture as Castle Island and the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
Everybody has done it at one time or another. Some people do it once in a while. Others do it several times a day. But not everybody knows how to do it. I know it is illegal to double park and any time you do it, you risk getting a ticket. Parking regulation notwithstanding, there are some unofficial rules to double parking. With that in mind, I present to you some of my double parking dos, don’ts, and observations. These are just my opinions and completely open to debate.
Good for business
The street with the most double parkers is Broadway. Double parking on Broadway is good for many of the businesses so it is mostly tolerated by parking enforcement officials. This is because many people are just running in to a business for something quick. The Java House for a cup of coffee or the ATM for money for a cup of coffee. These are acceptable double parking errands. It is not acceptable to double park for extended amounts of time and go into stores where you either can’t see your car or hear the person you blocked in beeping to get out. If you get blocked in by one of these people, you have the right to give them a dirty look and they should accept it with a shameful wave and a sorry.
Double parking on side streets
There are different rules for double parking on the side streets. Unless you have a driveway, hasn’t everyone had to unload their car of $200 worth of groceries and then park six blocks away down at the beach? If you have kids, you have probably dropped them off then search for a spot. These drop-offs are acceptable times to double-park and only take a few minutes but there is one rule that often is broken during them. Do not double park on the opposite side of the street of someone who is already double-parked on the same block, especially if you are on a two-way street. This seems like common sense but apparently it is not. If you do this on a one-way street, drivers must traverse from side to side like test drive cars going in and out of cones on the commercials. Not a big problem. Do this on a two-way street and drivers will be backing up, beeping the horn, and experiencing mild road rage directed at whomever was the second double parker. This can be avoided by parking on the same side of the street as the first double-parked car. Then you only have to listen for the beep of the car you blocked in.
It is also not very smart to double park in front of a bar. If you’re double parked in front of Tom English’s or the Shamrock Pub, the police might put two and two together and figure out that you are drinking then driving. They usually frown on that.
There’s a fine for that
The gamble you take when double parking is of course a ticket from the police or a meter maid. The fine for double parking is either $35 or $55. Apparently the City of Boston thinks it is worse to double park in certain areas. Sometimes parking enforcement officials allow many double parkers to go un-ticketed.
There is widespread double-parking on certain days and times. It is okay around schools for morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups. This might cause some frustration for neighbors but it is only for ten or fifteen minutes and at the same time every day. It is also okay to double park in front of a church or funeral homes during many services. This is mostly predictable but unless you want to interrupt a wedding or funeral, you might get blocked in for an hour.
The craziest days of un-ticketed double parking are street sweeping days. Since there are more cars than parking spots in most areas of Southie, it is acceptable to double park to allow the sweeper to get all the way to the curb. So while transportation department cars, public works pick-up trucks and private tow trucks fly up and down the streets ticketing in record numbers and towing in record times, your car is safe if it is double parked.
So double parking is good for business, parents of school kids, people going to church, and helps keep streets clean. If done the right way, double-parking can make your life easier with little inconvenience to your neighbors.
Newest Southie double parking situation? The overnight double park. Out of sheer frustration with the Southie parking crisis, people have abandoned the quest for a parking spot and have chosen to double park all night long. Not sure how I feel about this. I’ve been tempted to do a few times myself but have not. What do you think, Southie?