Yesterday we told you about a change to several parking ordinances and it understandably sparked a lot of discussion. It is not the City’s intent for these changes to make residents feel like they will receive a ticket if they are parked on the street for 27 hours, instead of 24. Or, if someone is physically unable to move their car from the street due to an illness or hardship for a certain amount of time that they will be unfairly treated.
The 24-hour parking limit rule was approved to give the City a tool to address unsafe parking situations and increase safety, not only for emergency personnel, but also for other drivers and neighborhood residents. There is no doubt when cars are parked on both sides of a street, it decreases visibility and makes it more difficult to ensure safety. Drivers have a harder time spotting a child darting into the street chasing after a ball or a pet that got loose and ran into the road when there are cars parked on the roadway. For these situations and many others, the less time a roadway is obstructed, the better.
While the ordinances are intended to increase safety, it does not mean City staff will be militant in enforcing them unless a parking situation is creating safety and visibility issues. The City’s property insurance company, the same company most Texas cities use, reports that many accidents involving fire trucks are those where the firefighters accidentally hit cars parked on the street (especially those parked too far from the curb).
Bedford’s fire trucks are 96 – 100 inches wide, depending upon the exact truck, which does not include the mirrors. In comparison, the maximum allowable width for a commercial vehicle on the roads is 102 inches wide. A fire truck being able to maneuver a street with cars parked on both sides is one concern when it comes responding to an emergency, but there is also the additional need for setting up the truck, once at a scene. Our fire trucks need about 20-25 feet of road width to safely stage a truck during an incident.
In addition to fire trucks, our residential streets are used by garbage and recycling trucks, delivery trucks, and other large vehicles. Better visibility and maneuverability help the drivers of these heavier vehicles with longer braking distances be safer.
This is why so many cities have similar ordinances on their books and it has helped them do the same thing the City of Bedford would like to do – ensure safety. Here’s several examples:
Euless (Sec. 82-88): No person shall park a vehicle upon any public street in the city in the same location for more than 24 continuous hours.
North Richland Hills (Sec. 54-161): General prohibitions. (3)Maximum parking time. Park on any street or alley in the city for a period of time longer than 24 hours or the time period stated on signs posted by authority of this article.
Arlington (Article V, Sec 5.03 of the Traffic Chapter): A person shall not stop, stand, or park a vehicle on any street or alley in the City for a period of time longer than twenty-four (24) hours; or the time period stated on signs posted by authority of this Chapter.
City of Dallas (Sec. 28-84): A person commits an offense if he leaves standing or parked in a public street, alley, or other public place, an unattended vehicle or other private property for a continuous period of time longer than 24 hours. (Ord. 14584)
City of Fort Worth (Sec. 22-159): STORING OF VEHICLES ON PUBLIC STREET PROHIBITED.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to store or allow the storage of a vehicle upon the public streets, alleys, sidewalks or parkways of the city.
(b) For purposes of this section, a vehicle shall be considered stored if it has remained parked at or nearly at the same location for a continuous period of time in excess of five days. A stored vehicle is deemed to be a vehicle which is illegally parked on public property, and such vehicle shall be subject to removal and disposal as an abandoned vehicle, according to the terms of Article IX, Division 1, of this chapter.
As with all new and existing ordinances, City staff will continue to evaluate them to ensure there aren’t any unintended consequences.