Parking the Chicago Way

Neighborhood parking

Parking The Chicago Way. . .

When we moved into our home seventeen years ago, there were still lots of old-timers living in the ‘hood, and the parking rules were clear: you did not park in front of anyone else’s house, and a snow-shoveled spot was yours until the snow melted. If circumstance left you without a parking spot in front of your house (a party, street cleaning day, for example), you would park your car in front of someone else’s house but would move it back in front of your house as soon as a spot opened up.

Let me be clear: No one owes you a spot in front of your house. City parking is first come, first serve. It’s just good neighborhood parking manners to make every effort to park in front of your own house. It’s understood, as dearly departed Joe would say. (Click to read my post about Joe and parking.)

These days, the neighborhood old-timers are few and a far between, and good parking manners are fading away. But since I park in the garage, I don’t really care about the odd assortment of vehicles that park in front of the house. However, I do picture Joe ranting that I am not withholding the parking standard—and he may be right.

Over the last few weeks, my teen has been driving the June Bug and parking it in front of the house, and I am babysitting a friend’s red van while she is in Europe. Also parked in front of the house. We are on a double lot.   I’m sure this annoys the neighbors since these spots have been a free-for-all in recent months. Honestly, it feels good to stake our parking claim again. But I hope I am not the reason of our neighbors have found it necessary to play  display the handicapped card—a growing trend in Chicago.

A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

Handicap parking

Please, don’t call me insensitive. Or judgmental. I felt no remorse for using my dearly departed aunt’s handicapped place card until it expired. HOWEVER, I would not have two large poles put in front of my house declaring that I was handicapped for the sole purpose of reserving parking. One neighbor secured the space for his tenant; the other neighbor claims her (invisible)handicapped mother-in-law visits frequently. And they aren’t the only ones! Our neighborhood is beginning to look a hospital parking lot.

Staking your claim to your shoveled parking spot after a snowstorm with a chair is a respected Chicago tradition people love to hate, and I know showing parking courtesy builds good neighborhood relationships…but having the city put up handicapped signs on large poles in front of your house declaring you unfit to walk a few blocks seems a bit over the top. And it’s ugly. An eye sore. Offensively ugly. You get my point….I’ll stop now.

My teen, of course, is expressing concern about my lack of hearing and plantar fasciitis and wonders if reserved handicapped parking in front of our house might be in my best interest. Like father, like son.

How’s parking in your neck of the woods?

Odd Loves Company,

20 thoughts on “Parking the Chicago Way

  1. Do your neighbors fake the limp or are their handicaps the invisible kind. Heart murmur for example. Exercise is good for you. Walk people walk. And I think honoring neighborhood code when possible is a good thing for all involved. Builds community. See you on El Morno.

    • Well, it would be insensitive to judge someone’s handicap, Mike! BUT I haven’t seen any wheelchairs rolling up to the front door so I’ll assume it’s more the invisible kind. 😀

  2. My husband doesn’t walk well and I try to keep the pathways clear for him and appreciate it when the neighbors leave the spot in front of our walk open. Most of our neighbors are very kind and our next door neighbor has gone so far as to ask people to move their car for us. We’ve been encouraged to apply for a handicap spot but the poles are ugly and my husband doesn’t like the idea. So for now we are dependent on our good neighbors. In my opinion watching out for one another makes a neighborhood strong.

    • Mr. Rogers would be very proud of your neighborhood! And it sounds like you’re considered a neighborhood asset. It use to be more like that in my neighborhood. Maybe it’s time for another block party. Nice to hear about neighbors watching out for each other. I know we all kept an eye on one of our 90 plus neighbors much to his annoyance and dismay but I think secretly he really appreciated the attention. And NO ONE parked in front of his house.

  3. I have never heard of such a thing but then I live in small town, USA at the moment where parking is plentiful in my neighborhood. ALthough I did notice that when I had the gals over this week some parked on the street in a show of “I don’t want to park anyone in” consideration. Nice,huh? WE all need to practice good Karma however we can. Interesting dilemma in the city I am sure.

    • Life in the city. When I lived closer to the city parking on the street was so impossible some nights you’d come home and consider handing your car keys to anyone who would take them. Your life was scheduled around parking and taxi’s (long before Uber). When we moved into our house, I assumed we’d park in the garage. We didn’t (long story). However, there was ample street parking. And this is when I learned from Joe and others about street parking, neighborhoods, and courtesy. I am certain Joe is causing a dust storm in his urn over the handicap parking signs!

  4. In a neighborhood people should make every effort to park in front of their own house and if they have too many cars they need to be considerate about where they are parking them. It’s not the law, no one should act like a parking spot is a god given right, but a little neighborly consideration can go a long way towards good neighborhood relations. The handicap parking signs screw up parking for everyone and only jerks put them up unnecessarily.

    • Well said Brian. I agree. The handicap parking signs reduce the parking on the street. A little parking courtesy goes a long ways!

  5. Handicapped signs along the street??? City has gone too far especially when there is ill intent. When I had that humongous ash tree in front, that was prime parking for shade from the brutal sun. I’m also of the opinion of park in front of your own damn house. My living area is in the front of the house & have 2 large windows. I don’t want to see your heap when I look out. Too many family cars? How about the occupants who are old enough to have their own place do just that?! Right…..another example of the lowering of society. Common courtesy? What’s that? I’m done!

  6. Sorry, but I just had to giggle over your “Big City Ways,” Katybeth! Here in the downstate region (rural, you know), we don’t seem to have those issues. People in my neighborhood generally park in their garages or driveways; the ones who take up space on public streets at the curb are considered nuisances! Especially if they bring in a ginormous mobile home and set up shop all summer long!!

    • And oh how, you rurals, talk about those nuisances! I know! :-D. I’m grateful for a two car garage and a carport for the bug. And I guess now, I’ll be grateful that no one has parked a ginormous mobile home in front of my house which may or may not be worse than being surrounded by neighbors pretending to be handicapped.

  7. Boy am I ever glad I live in the country….. Very rarely people park along a country road unless you are having a party and no room to park in the driveway. Our car/truck are always in the garage. No curbing here and a big corn field across from the house. How I love country living and am so glad I was born into a small town. You can keep Chicago!!!

    • I’m not sure what happened. I wasn’t meant to have neighbors. I’m sure of it. Corn fields, or mountains is more my style. I love Chicago but never planned to live here forever. Sigh. Then I met Joe, got married, had a kid and now it’s home. It’s all Joe’s fault. :-D. I am, however, grateful that we have a garage.

  8. G’Morno, KatyBeth!
    I’m scratching my head (and seething in sympathy) for the folks on the street in that photo! 2 handicapped spaces is one thing, but what’s with leaving only half-a-space between them??!? OMG – *that* takes at least 3 spaces out of the parking pool, for only 2 cars! Thanks, City Bureaucracy (not)!

  9. Only in America would people park a $40.000 vehicle in their driveway or in front of their house, because their garage is full of $3,000 worth of junk!

Comments are closed.