Winter has arrived in the Mohawk Valley, like it does every year. With the season comes all sorts of winter storm watches and warnings, which happens every year. To keep the streets clear for plows and motorists making their way through Amsterdam, the city's winter parking ordinance has taken effect, like it does every year.
And every year, several people will forget, ignore or be confused by what that law means.
While many communities in the region ban on-street parking altogether once the snow flies, the city allows some parking on side streets. There are many neighborhoods with homes that don't have driveways or nearby public parking, so it makes sense.
The law is quite simple: On odd-numbered days, people should park on the side of the street with odd-numbered houses. On even-numbered days, people park on the other side, where the houses have even numbers. In other words, on Dec. 27, the vehicles should park on the side where the house numbers end in 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9. On Dec. 28, move the cars to the other side of the road. It's a system that doesn't even involve math, just a basic knowledge of numerals, but for some reason, many people can't seem to wrap their heads around the concept.
The ordinance isn't intended to inconvenience people, and if it does, too bad. There are many narrow roadways in the city which can be tough to navigate in the summer when cars are parked on both sides of the road. That situation is only made worse when the snow falls. Amsterdam's also not located on a flat plain, but nestled in a valley, meaning there are several streets going up and down hills.
The city needs to keep those streets as clear as possible. Motorists should be able to make their way across town without worrying about slamming into cars parked illegally; and more importantly, police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances need a clear path when responding to emergencies. It's a matter of general public safety, which trumps any complaint about having to get out from in front of the television to make sure your car's on the right side of the road.
Amsterdam residents are fortunate because the city doesn't crack down too hard when the rules first take effect Nov. 1. For the most part, simple warning tickets are issued to remind people of the law.
We believe the city should be more heavy-handed when the snow starts coming, however. There are certain streets that can be more treacherous than others, and certain areas have higher incidences of parking violations. The city should monitor those areas closely and start towing vehicles parked on the wrong side of the street. People have had plenty of warning, and if they're unaware of or continue to ignore the parking ordinance, then perhaps a trip or two to court and/or the impound lot -- and the expense of getting it back -- will prompt them to pay closer attention.
If you don't have a copy of the ordinance, it's available on the city's website, www.amsterdamny.gov.