How To Read A NYC Parking Sign

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Guest Author Alert:  A big thanks to NYC parking ticket expert Lawrence Berezin of for co-authoring today’s post.

Even for the highly educated, interpreting NYC parking signs is no easy task.  This post will help you understand where you can safely park including how to construe the ultimate parking conundrum … a “gotcha” pole.

This one is easy right? We love white signs with green lettering. They exude welcome and warmth. This sign gently reminds us that between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. you can only park here for 2 hours. But, before 8 a.m. and after 7 p.m. you can park as long as you want.  “Except Sunday” means that you are permitted to park on Sunday all day.

The arrow at the bottom of the sign points in both directions. This means the rule displayed on the parking sign regulates all the parking spaces in both directions until the next parking sign or the end of the block.

Caveat:  You can’t start your park at 7 a.m. and continue to park here for more than 2 hours after the clock strikes 8 a.m. (In other words, you must move your car before 10 a.m. in our example).

This white sign with red lettering is warning that you can never, ever park your car to the right of this sign. This “anytime” prohibition is applicable every day of the week (including holidays) and extends until the next parking sign or the end of the block.  However, even in a “no parking” zone, you can temporarly drop off or pick up people or property.

The challenge presented by the menacing, red-backgrounded sign to the right is knowing the difference between no standing and no parking.  In a “no standing” zone, you are permitted to stop temporarily to drop off or pick up a passenger (but not property) while in a “no parking zone” you are permitted to stop temporarily and pick up or drop off a passenger and/or property.

Okay, so what is “no stopping”.  This is the most restrictive prohibition and restricts motorists from parking and from any type of drop off (or pick up) unless you fall within its exceptions.  Many of these signs have no exceptions and, therefore, should mean to you “keep driving”.

Oy … the tipping point with this sign is the significance of the word “EXCEPT.”  Whenever you see except it is usually followed by “trucks loading and unloading,” “authorized vehicles,” or “except certain diplomatic and consular vehicles.” Generally, red you’re dead if you’re a passenger vehicle (unless it states “Except Sunday” and , of course, it’s Sunday).

The above sign:

  • Prohibits “standing”
  • Between 10AM – 4PM
  • EXCEPT, a commercial vehicle can stand here between 10AM – 4PM (the first “except”) if they “feed the meter”.
  • All vehicles can stand or park here on Sundays (the other “except”)
The “no stopping” sign prohibits any type of interaction.  You cannot park or stand in this area (i.e., you cannot temporary idle there even if to pick up or drop off a person or property.

Are now the gotcha pole?

Wow! A pro quarterback has 3-4 seconds to get rid of the football. A member of the NYC driving community has about the same amount of time to answer the question, “Can I park here” before he/she is “sacked” by a parking ticket warrior.

I suggest the following check down acronym…C-A-D-E.

(1) COLOR of the signs. Generally, red you’re dead (passenger vehicles) so move on. (2) ARROW (s). Are they pointing to your parking space? If not. You’re safe. If so, keep checking down. (3) DAYS/TIMES. Do the sign(s) pointing to your parking space prohibit parking on the day and time you are trying to park? If not, you win. (4) EXCEPT- the first except displays the type of vehicle that is permitted to park between certain hours.  Hint: It is never a passenger vehicle.

Applying C-A-D-E to this parking sign tells me there is a sea of red, so I’m probably dead. Two arrows point in both directions and one arrow points to the right. The third sign is the end game sign. It simply says, no standing, except commercial vehicles, INCLUDING SUNDAY. I’m dead…Keep driving.

Final Note

When in doubt about the meaning of a parking sign … skedaddle.  Live to park another day.

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