Why do Seattle drivers park the wrong way (and why don't police enforce it)?

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Have you ever noticed cars parked nose-to-nose or tail-to-tail in your neighborhood? Have you ever wondered why you don’t see more tickets on cars that are parked the wrong way?

Ashley Gross, a KPLU reporter and recent Seattle transplant, did, and tackled those questions in a post for the station’s I Wonder Why…? blog.

Gross wrote:

In my neighborhood in West Seattle, near Alki Beach, cars are parked higgledy-piggledy. Nose to nose, tail to tail. The streets are really narrow, and traffic runs in both directions, so I can understand the temptation to just zip into an empty spot, no matter which side of the street it’s on.

Parking “the wrong way” is technically illegal in Seattle, but it isn’t often enforced.

An SPD parking enforcement officer explained why:

Mary Mitchell, field supervisor for the Seattle Department of Parking Enforcement, says they do – sometimes. On busy streets, like arterials, her officers will definitely ticket. She says they’ll always issue tickets if they think a car that’s parked the wrong way is really posing a hazard.

What surprises me, though, is that Mitchell is not dogmatic. On quiet, residential streets, Mitchell says she sees things in shades of gray.

“Streets where there’s not a lot of traffic, there’s no hazards that we can articulate, we’re not going to go in and just blanket it just because we can,” Mitchell said.

She says her officers sometimes leave courtesy notices on windshields to let drivers know that it is illegal to park on the wrong side of the road. But as for actual citations, she says she tells her officers to ask themselves, “How would you feel if you got this ticket?”

Read more at the link: www.kpluwonders.org/content/why-do-so-many-park-wrong-way-seattle

Photo credit: joshua_putnam / Flickr