Today in ‘You’re Doing it Wrong’ Notes


Thanks to a reader for sending:

“Someone left these all over the cars in Capitol Hill. I guess they’re not familiar with the concept of cars coming and going throughout the day, causing irregular gaps which may not have been there when the person pulled in.”

46 Comment

  • A lot of times people don’t take that into consideration, but I see plenty of people parking on empty streets right after rush hour restrictions end. Rather than parking immediately in front of or behind other vehicles, the drivers simply park wherever, causing the street to lose 3-4 spots. Drives me craaaaaazy.

  • Confession: Even though I know extra gaps are most likely caused by other cars pulling out; I still get irrationally angry at cars parked with too much of a gap.

  • At least they were pretty polite about it! Better than getting a “You suck at parking” sign.

  • If I could have a super power, I think I would like it to be magically moving all the cars as needed to maximize parking space. Because I know people coming and going often causes it, but there is clearly another car worth of space!

  • I’ve always thought it would be convenient to have some amazing mechanism by which cars could be slid a few feet in either direction to allow others to park. It’ll never happen – but, hey, there are driverless-cars being tested, so you never know.

  • I must admit I fantasize about leaving a note like this on my street in Columbia Heights because I do often OBSERVE (with my own two eyes) people parking in such a way as to waste space. And this is true of neighbors and visitors alike. Of course, I know there is no way to have all cars perfectly spaced to maximize volume on the block, but everyone can do his/her part by parking immediately in front of or behind a car already there.

  • Probably the tree box OP.

  • Ehh, the note says, “You have been observed …” which makes me think they’re like my neighbors who deliberately position their cars to take up more space than necessary. They’ll park one in front of the other (always in the same spot, directly in front of the building we share [separate units]), and when one needs to drive away, they’ll move the second (staying home) car up to block the space in such a way that no one can use it. I’m not the only neighbor who’s noticed — it’s an awful display of selfishness.

  • Yes!!!! I watch people on Capitol Hill doing this all the time. They are trying to park directly in front of their doors, to hell with everyone else who might need a space. My husband, saint that he is, will get back into the car and re-park if he suspects there is even a smidgen of extra space. He won’t get one of those notes!!!

  • We all do. As long as we recognize what the situation really is and that we’re being irrational (and we don’t leave silly notes like this one) it’s probably ok.

  • In Spain all the cars are sticks and it is flat, so people double park each other and leave the cars in neutral. If you need to get out, or just need some more space to get in, you can just push the row of cars. It is pretty funny.

  • I understand the urge to make these signs, but does anyone think they have an effect? I just assume there are a given proportion of jerks I’ll have to deal with on a daily basis and just live around them as best I can, rather than getting into a stew about them.

  • In Europe people leave the parking brake off and you can bump a car forward several feet in order to fit.

  • one parking practice that drives me nuts is when people don’t align their bumpers with the parking signs. if you find a spot that’s at the start/end of a parking zone, pull your car up (or back it up) so that your front (or rear) bumper is aligned with the parking sign. if you leave three feet between your bumper and sign, it’s not like another car can park in that space!

    • You can actually move up a few more feet and align your front tires with the parking sign. We do this all the time and have never been ticketed. Every foot counts!

      • you can be ticketed if any portion of your car is past the sign. That you have not yet been ticketed is not proof I am wrong.

  • Smilla

    This is why parking spaces should always be marked — to prevent erratic spacing and pissed off neighbors.

    I realize that marked spaces might not accommodate oversized vehicles or ones with trailers, but they’ll work for the majority of vehicles and people will understand if your moving truck goes over a line.

  • I offer up an even worse practice, in my opinion: those who double park in the traffic lane when there are plenty of open street parking spots on the block. Even worse is when they double park directly in front of an open parking spot. This is the pinnacle of laziness.

  • I saw this happen in Cairo, too. I didn’t understand what was happening at first when I saw a whole line of parked cars moving forward and backwards, and then I realized that everyone was cooperating in not applying their parking break so that persons who wanted to park could roll the cars forward or backward in order to make another spot. It was pretty amazing cooperation between drivers.

    • justinbc

      What happens if you get pushed out in the street? I can’t imagine someone 6 cars up or whatever would really be able to gauge properly that far behind them?

  • My biggest dilemma is when the best/only available spot is 1.5 car lengths. Do you get closest to the car in front or behind you? If only one has a DC plate, I usually pull closer to that car as I figure they’re more likely to stay overnight.

  • Christmas Eve, I paced down Clifton St. behind a slow Lincoln whose driver eeked past a double-parked car on our left only to double-park, right in front of me, on the right side of the street. Guy double-parked on my left, Lincoln lady double parked ahead of me. I was blocked and wanted to holler, but made a U-ee instead and fled.

  • I like when this occurs. Perfect fit for my motorcycle!

  • The problem with marking the spots off is that when cars are parked to maximize space, you can fit a lot more cars if there are no markings because they park closer together. So in areas where parking is tightest (i.e. where people care most about efficiently using the space), markings will actually decrease the number of parking spaces available.
    So I guess it depends on whether you want to maximize the number of cars (no marks) or minimize the variance in the number of cars that can park on a stretch of street (marks).

    • Smilla

      On my street, where parking is tight, people rarely park closer together than they would if spaces were marked off. It’s just the opposite — they leave too much room on one end to make sure they can pull out easily or don’t get blocked in. Other cars follow suit, and we end up with excess space that could have accommodated two additional cars divided among all the parkers.

      Markings would prevent selfish parkers from taking up 1-1/2 spots, obviate hostility on the part of people like the note-writer, and relieve responsible parkers from the guilt/anxiety of taking up a 1-1/2 space spot left by other, less responsible parkers.

  • albany

    I’m generally not a fan of these kinds of notes, but I’m with the crowd on this one.

    Back in law school, I had a neighbor who had a private parking space, but would intentionally arrange his pickup truck and motorcycle in front of our building to take up as much space as possible (i.e. arranging a gap between his two vehicles) while his private space out back went empty.

    This used to drive me absolutely berserk, so I can empathize with the note’s author. .

    • justinbc

      I’m guessing you didn’t actually read the post? I sent the photo in, these notes were left all over cars up and down the street, many of them parked perfectly fine. Someone was just being 1) an asshat or, 2) ignorant, or both. I was the last car parked in a row with about 4 inches between the bumper and the parking sign, and still had one on my windshield as well.

      • albany

        Calm down, I was trying to respond to the flow of the other posters who cited examples of people’s bad parking etiquette, and the circumstances where a note like this would be proper. I think that everyone is in agreement, that mass-notes are an annoyance and not an act of civil service.

  • As a motorcyclist I love this space.

  • you should’ve honked, yelled, and shook a fist.

  • Some people take up more than one space on purpose. I tried to pick up lunch from the City Vista Taylor Deli one day. There were only two parking spots available for blocks, and they were back to back. Well, a Maryland driver slid into the middle of those two spaces and used them both! I pulled up next to her in my tiny Nissan Senta and signaled that I wanted to park behind her. She just turned off her car, got out, and went into a restaurant – completely ignoring me! There’s no justification for that kind of shitty behavior.

  • @Smilla,
    Yes, that’s a problem. It’s interesting how neighborhoods have their own local culture for things like parking. Cars on the streets around my block generally park quite close to each other. Even when there are gaps big enough for 2+ cars, people tend to buddy up to another car to leave the biggest possible space for the next vehicles. Most of the time we would lose about 1 space for every 8-10 or so cars if we had marked spaces.

  • Waiting for someone to critique the writing in this note (“and parking space is at a premium”).

  • When this note can be valid is when someone parks with the end of their car like 6 or 8 feet inside the end of the parking zone sign at the corner. I kinda wish the parking zone sign had a little arrow that said “pull up to here when parking.”

    • @Anonymous 4:41
      Agree completely.
      But where should SmartCars park? When I park a Car2Go, I never know if I should line the bumper up with the sign, or actually park with some space so the SmartCar reserves a “full size” space for the next car to park there.

  • Glad you understand you’re anger is irrational.

  • I check to see how much space is in front/behind each car. I park closer to the one that has more space to get out.

  • Hmmm… this was supposed to be a response to sproc

  • This happens because parking is not accurately priced to reflect it’s actual demand. There should be marked spaces, with meters, and resident parking decals whose cost is based on the demand in the neighborhood. In most close-in ‘hoods like Capitol Hill & Columbia Heights, this would be at least $100 a year instead of the ridiculous current .9 cents a day ($35 a year)

  • I live in the city. Park responsibly and pay city taxes. I don’t see the need to raise the fees for parking in my neighborhood within three blocks of my house. I live near Barracks Row. There is plenty of parking under the expressway that goes unused by our suburban brethren as they seem to need to park within eyesight of their destination.

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