Kosher or Uncool?


“Dear PoPville,

This afternoon I landed a spot at the end of a Zone 1 parking only section demarcated by a sign. Being a good neighbor, I parked in the spot and backed as far up as I could and still be within the sign behind my bumper. This left a gap about a half car length in front of me, but since I move my car very infrequently, I think this is the right thing to do, so as to minimize any awkward spacing if I don’t move my car for a few weeks. Basically my car acts as the new end of the section. 4 hours later I found this mini’s bumper pressed into the front of my car, and leaving about a centimeter between it’s front bumper and the next car in front of it.

Should I have just rolled forward into the empty partial space in front of me to prevent this sort of poor decision-making by other parkers? I more than anyone get the desperation for a spot in my neighborhood having circled the neighborhood for an hour looking more than once, but is this kind of bumper car strategy fair game if the car can “fit”. First world problems I know but curious what other think.”

80 Comment

  • Holy shit, that’s an impressive park job by the Mini

  • I’ll just commend them on the excellent parking skills. I’ve gotten into some tight spots, but nothing like it.

  • Unless there is damage to your car, I’m not sure what the problem is. You did the right thing by parking to the sign, and the Mini did an amazing job parking.

  • If there isn’t enough room for a car in front of you, roll up and block out the space to prevent people from trying. Even if you have your emergency brake set, this type of constant rocking back and forth against your car while it is in park will absolutely destroy your transmission and cost you thousands of dollars. Not to mention the cost of repainting the bumpers for both you and the car ahead of the almost-but-not-really-a-spot from someone who does more than just knick them and really tears the hell out of them.
    The Mini driver here is the rude one, not you. But yes, you have to be on the defensive and block a-holes like this from trying, otherwise they will and the damage to your car is not going to give them a care in the world. Keep an eye on it and if / when enough space opens up in front of you that a reasonable car can reasonably fit, slide yours back and make room.

    • The likelihood of bumping having an effect on the transmission is very low. Bumping while parking is common in quite a few countries.

      • I’ve always heard that they leave their cars in neutral though… Most American cars are automatic transmissions that are not in neutral when parked.

        • Haha, you must have never driven stick if you think it’s advisable to leave your car in neutral on a public street anywhere in the world (assuming no hand brake is on which would negate your point).

          • Tsar of Truxton

            In Spain, they all leave their cars in neutral and double park. If you are blocked (or bored and drunk), you push an entire row of cars so you can get out. So yes, newenglander was probably speaking from experience, and you are being a dick with nothing to back up your statement.

    • I’ve done this kind of parking job without bumping the other cars. You just need to make a lot of tiny moves and have a lot of patience.

  • You did the right thing by lining up with the sign — that maximizes the overall space.

    As for the mini, touching your car is not okay. The centimeter space with the front car to me is a sign of an impressive parking job. But you have to leave some space on both sides. Since the mini couldn’t do that, it should have moved and found another spot.

  • They played bumper pool to get into that spot. Here in Germany (cities), bumper contact is an accident and police are called. Insurance info is exchanged, yep.

    • I once had someone do this to me near Dupont to the point that their bumper was actually on top of my bumper, depressing the front of my car. Right as I got back to my car, a police officer happened to be walking by, so I waived him over. He claimed there was no parking offense involved, and he could only do something if I could prove damage which he said I couldn’t because my bumper was already beat up. I didn’t care much because, yes, my bumper is beat up from a decade parking on DC streets. But the officer’s response was pretty amusing.

      • When I lived down there quite a few years ago, I had somebody park me in. I was parked legally in the last spot on the street; the car parked behind me illegally with probably an inch between us. (Seriously, did pulling up that far make it any less illegal???) It was Saturday morning and I was running late for an appointment. I was majorly pissed and my car was an old junker at the time so I’ll admit I wasn’t gentle as I tried to get out of the spot (in part because I was being careful not to touch the legally parked car in front of me).

      • I regularly bump in around my neighborhood. Including near the safeway with cops stationed nearby. Never a problem. This is the only efficient way to park in DC.

      • Yep. That’s the typical MPD response. I have a real peach of a neighbor on my block, whose wife is handicapped. I don’t begrudge him the right to have the handicap space, but what I do not accept is that he thinks that he’s entitled to the space AND a few feet behind it. Not to park his vehicle in, but that no one is allowed to park in behind him. I came home one night to find his SUV backed into my little Neon. He left it that way, with his trailer hitch pressed up against my front license plate. I called the cops. They (an hour later) arrived and said they couldn’t do anything because there were no witnesses to prove he did it and not me. Gave me a police report if I wanted to contact insurance. Even better, the neighbor must have been lurking inside watching because after the police helped me get my car out of the spot (couldn’t do it on my own – it was that tight), as soon as they left and I moved, he walked out, got in the car, and backed up past his space so that no one could park behind him.

  • I have your delimma often. I finally decided the best thing to do is to pull as close the car in front of you as possible. Then if there is 3/4s of a car space behind you’ll leave it to someone else to decide if they want to park there. Most of the time you won’t get a ticket if most of the car is in the legal area, at least on my block. It’s also a good space for car-to-gos, or someone who’s desperate for a spot late at night.

    But if you leave 3/4 of a space in front of you then nobody will have the option of parking there, except that amazingly-skilled mini driver.

  • I tend to wonder if something else is going on here. There’s no way the mini could have navigated into that space. Is the car in front of the mini the same car as when you parked? I tend to think that the car in front of the mini wasn’t there, the mini parked, and then the car in front parked and pushed the mini back into your car. Just my $.02.

  • Ultimately, the joke is on the Mini Cooper. The car in front of it clearly came second and did what the mini did to you. No way the mini gets out of there until one car moves (hopefully you have enough room behind you).

  • west_egg

    If it fits, it’s legit. This sort of thing is inevitable wherever parking is a premium.

    • Uh no. You aren’t allowed to damage someone else’s car just because parking is at a premium. California needs water, but you don’t see them going to war with Michigan to get it.

      • west_egg

        Hmm, I overlooked the part about the mini actually being in contact with OP’s car.

      • This is what the bumper is for. I get it that they are uglier now that we have gone pure plastic, but on’t park your precious on the street if you fear a scratch.

  • I think you’re not supposed to leave your car on the street for “a few weeks” without moving it. I’m surprised it hasn’t been towed.

    • The 72 hour rule was repealed in 2010, just a heads up.

    • Why would it be towed? There is no law or regulation that limits parking duration in zoned residential parking as long as street cleaning, rush hour restrictions, etc don’t apply. You can park as long as you want as long as your car has a valid registration and the appropriate zone parking sticker.

    • Huh? If you’re parked on a street without street sweeping with the appropriate pass then why not? I do this regularly as I don’t require my car for work, only for heading out of town. It’s in the right zone, with the right parking pass, and not required to be moved weekly for street sweeping.

    • It is fine to leave your car for weeks or more at a time depending on where you leave it. I havent moved mine in a month! I pay the RPP so I use it all up!

      As for this situation. Yes line up with the sign and the Mini shouldn’t have parked against your car. Leaving an inch is ok I guess but it is obvious they were rubbing when they parked it.

      • What would your opinion be on Emergency No Parking for moving trucks? When I a few months ago, there was a car parked right in front of my place. It was legally parked and had been there for a few months. I posted my No Parking signs over a week in advance hoping that the owner lived in the neighborhood but never drove and would see the signs. He/She did not. So what would you do the morning of your move?

        • I think that leaving your car in a spot indefinitely is just dandy AS LONG AS you wander on by every few days to check on it and move if necessary for street cleaning, emergency parking, whatever. That’s just being a good member of society, and the world could do with a little more of that nowadays and less of “well I don’t HAVE to so they should suck it up.” But selfishly, I see so many car windows smashed out in my neighborhood, I’d just want to swing by regularly to make sure it was okay.
          And +1 that you should all the way back to the sign.

        • Yeah, that’s what I tried to do, but I still didn’t feel great about it (having someone towed who was legally parked when they parked their car). Didn’t end up mattering – DPW’s response was too slow, and my movers made things work.

        • Actually, you call 911. MPD has to ticket them first, before DPW will tow.

        • PS – this is why you reserve parking for moving a few hours before your movers actually show up. That way, you have time for MPD and DPW to get there for the ticket & tow. I’d do it 3 hours early – it won’t cost you anything extra.
          Also, don’t move on Sunday. MPD and DPW won’t show up.

        • OP Anon
          Yup – I realized the error of my ways the morning of my move. I should have reserved part of the day before as well to get rid of the car that had been there for weeks (my movers were showing up first thing a Wednesday morning). DPW (I think parking enforcement is under the DPW umbrella, but I called 311 to request enforcement) “sent”* someone out to ticket the car. Then it was on me to call DPW to have a tow truck sent. By the time the moving truck was fully loaded, the tow still hadn’t arrived. Live and learn!

          *My movers watched two parking enforcement cars drive by before waving the third down.

    • There are cars parked on my block in SW that have been in the same spot since august of 2012, there is grass growing around one, and the other has 3 flat tires. Parking enforcement does not care.

  • OP did the right thing. The driver of the Mini was a jerk.

  • A+ parking all around.
    I’ll never understand the reverence people have for their bumpers. They’re putting their private property in public space for the $3/month an RPP costs. If you want a pristine bumper and easy parking, pay market rate. If you want the city’s taxpayers to continue to subsidize your on-street parking in areas with high demand, you pay the price in getting your bumper destroyed. Just put the $200/month savings of RPP vs. private parking towards repairing the cosmetic damage.

    • A little bit of bumping, etc. is to be expected. But a lot of people in D.C. do a lot more damage to other people’s bumpers than is necessary.
      I wish I had gotten a Bumper Bully or Bumper Badger or something like that for my car when it was new (and when I had gated parking at night and on weekends, and parking in a parking lot for work because I was working in Maryland). By the time I learned that such a product existed, my bumper was already scraped/indented/etc. enough that it wasn’t worth bothering.
      I am also irritated that car companies shifted from black rubber-covered bumpers to same-color bumpers. This wouldn’t even be much of an issue with black rubber.

      • HaileUnlikely

        And the structural bumper undearneath the outer decorative plastic thing is narrower than old school bumpers were, and thus often fails to protect expensive things like headlights and in some cases expensive electronic sensors from damage. There are cars sold today that will suffer north of a$1000 worth of damage from a little bump from which there would have been no evidence whatsoever on a typical car sold in the 1980’s. (Don’t get me wrong, cars sold today are a whole lot safer than cars sold in the 80’s, but the inferior bumpers of today have nothing to do with that.)

    • +1. This is like the people who want to swing if you step on their shoes to get on Metro.

  • You did the right thing lining up with the sign rather than leaving an awkward half space behind your car. I’m sorry but I think this parking job is hilarious. The joys of being a city dweller is we get snapchat worthy footage to laugh about with friends.

  • Should you tap another car while parking — no. Does it happen occasionally and people shouldn’t freak out — yes.

    That being said, there’s no what this mini parked there without hitting your car, probably even more than the reasonable tap/kiss. So I’d be a little PO’d too!

    When someone parked ON my bumper one time, I just took a picture left a note that said, “GREAT PARKING JOB!”

    • there’s no way*

    • I don’t understand. I get the that it would be difficult for the car to park that close without ever making contact. I don’t get how you can infer the velocity of the contact? Once you tap a car, you know where it is. You don’t get more certain where it is by hitting it harder?

  • I remember one time years ago while grabbing lunch in a restaurant on P St. in Dupont, a bunch of us watched as a car parked by Braille in an impossibly small spot leaving little room for the cars in the front and back. An MPD officer was in there with us witnessing the whole thing and went out and told the guy he had to move. DC law says you have to leave three feet in the front and the back. Of course, that never happens and it would be hard to prove who didn’t allow said space, but since we were all watching, the officer could cite the law and make him move.

  • This is one reason I leave the trailer hitch on my car even though I hardly ever tow anything.

    • Accountering

      Interesting… If someone with a really crappy bumper hits it, could easily bend it and render it unusable. People and their love for their bumpers is really funny to me.

      • If I remember correctly, you are one of the lucky ones with a black rubber bumper. You might think a little differently if/when you have a vehicle with a same-color bumper.

  • Its never enforced but there is a violation on the books for: “Vehicle is parked less than three feet from another vehicle on public roadway”. I only know about this because we has a CRAZY neighbor that insisted that the space in front of his house was only for him and would call the cops on anyone who parked in “his” spot – usually citing this violation…….. The cops would come and ask us to move our cars mostly because this guy was a wacko and it was just easier…very frustrating….
    But imagine if it was enforced…you would only be able to get like 4 cars on a block!!

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  • You did the right thing by parking at the sign. You should do the same thing again. The mini owner was the one taking its bumpers in stride.

  • The Mini driver is a jerk, but you did the right thing. Always get even with the sign if you’re at the front or back of the row. Let the rest sort itself out. Leaving a half-space by the sign is rude, I hate it when people do that.

  • I had a similar situation. It was a spot that was good for 2 cars IF the cars were on the average to small size length wise. I have a Volvo 4-door which is somewhat longer than some other 4-doors but I parked to the sign which was right next to a parking garage driveway. This is a highly ticketed area and I was trying to give enough room in front for another car without risking a ticket for parking over the line. It seems it wasn’t “good enough” because I came back to a note. This wasn’t just a handwritten note, but one that came off of a pre-printed pad with the note THE PARKING GODS ARE WATCHING and a bunch of check boxes where you could check and “offense.” it had a “nice” note in the comments section about how if I had parked better (meaning if I had parked outside of the lines) someone else could have parked there.

  • Because telling them that they park like @$$holes — using those words — is going to make them recognize the error of their ways and change their behavior?

  • Get over it! DC is the only city I have ever lived where people actually expect a measurable space between cars for street parking smh. I say bump and grind, making it fit.

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