When one drives his or her own personal motor vehicle in the familiar area where he or she is based, that person will usually know what are the laws in that area — including those of speeding and parking — but when renting a vehicle in a different location, some of those laws could be less obvious.
I saw that the space in which the car was parked was in front of a sign which states that parking is not allowed in a freight zone between the hours of 8:00 in the morning and 6:00 in the evening during the day every day except on Sundays; and the arrow is pointing away from where the car is parked…
…but the car itself is parked over the faded white stop line in the street and does exceed the stop sign by a couple of feet as its front end is barely over the equally faded crosswalk line — but it is not blocking most of the crosswalk itself.
I sprinted diagonally across the street to the hotel property — of which I intend to write about my experience — and asked the person behind the front desk about whether where I parked was a legal parking space, or if I was insanely lucky.
“Don’t park there,” he warned. “Cops have been notoriously known to give out tickets there.”
Readers of The Gate were not fooled. For example, swagwrote this comment: “In most cities, yes. But this is New Orleans, where it’s illegal to park within 20 feet of intersections, crosswalks or stop signs. One full car length to the crosswalk is a good rule of thumb. At many corners, there’s a triangle painted to indicate the no parking zone, but it’s just as illegal if there’s no paint. The reason the Freight Zone sign is located where it is is that the space between the sign and the corner is illegal always.”
The comment concluded with “I think it’s still just $40 if you pay the fine promptly.”
In case you are wondering, I did not receive a citation — nor was I fined. After heeding the advice given to me by the employee at the hotel property, I decided to wait in the car until someone from the police department or traffic department showed up. When I spotted a woman coming down Natchez Street issuing tickets to other vehicles on the street, I got out of the car to ask her for information about where I was parked. She replied that vehicles which are parked within 20 feet of a stop sign pose a safety hazard to vehicles which turn at the corner; so parking where I was parked would be illegal in New Orleans — even though no signs or markings indicated otherwise.
After talking to the woman, I moved the car several blocks away to a parking spot which was both legal and free. Metered parking in New Orleans can cost up to six dollars for two hours; and parking garages and lots charge a minimum of $6.00 to park for up to 60 minutes or $7.25 for up to 20 minutes.
For an article in the future, I intend to give some tips on how to park in major cities for free — or, for at least a lower cost. Although there rarely is a convenient or magic solution, it can be done.
I did miss a golden opportunity, though: I should have asked the woman how many people had mistaken the signs which exclaim NO PARKING to mean New Orleans Parking and therefore thought parking in those spots would be legal…