Yes, Parking in New York Has Gotten Worse

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It’s Wednesday.

Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high in the low 40s, but a breeze will make it feel colder.

Alternate-side parking: Suspended for Three Kings Day.

Angry truck drivers. Petty alternate-side parking antics. Neighbors turning on neighbors.

New Yorkers have been driving themselves dizzy trying to park in the city. Not only did car ownership jump, but changes made to the streets during the pandemic have cut down on precious parking spots.

Parking in the city was never easy, but now some fed-up car owners are calling it war. How did it get this way?

[Why the fight over parking in New York is ‘like the Hunger Games.’]

The details

The competition for parking increased when car ownership soared and the use of mass transit dropped during the pandemic, an occurrence otherwise known as Carmageddon.

In Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, the number of vehicles registered between August and October increased by 37 percent compared with the same period the previous year, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Outdoor dining, which was made permanent in September, also took up roughly 10,000 parking spots, and people who drove away for the summer have returned.

The precedent

The debate over how New York City should allocate its 6,000 miles of streets is nothing new, though the pandemic has reinvigorated the issue.

Car owners have long complained of valuable space being used for new bike lanes, bus lanes and docks for the city’s bike share program. Mass transit advocates and cyclists have said that the city needs to shift priorities away from car culture and reimagine its streets.

“If you want to complain about losing a few parking spots on your block, I’m sorry for your inconvenience, but our entire city benefits when you give streets back to people,” said Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

The reaction

The lack of parking has stoked tension in neighborhoods and made some drivers desperate. Noreen O’Donnell, of Brooklyn, circled around for an hour one night looking for spot. She gave up at around midnight and parked illegally outside of a school.

Anthony Fauci, another Brooklyn resident (and unrelated to that other Anthony Fauci), told my colleague Christina Goldbaum that some neighbors have used orange cones to save parking spots. In response, he has moved the cones so he could park, though he worried someone may slash his tires.

After the street sweepers pass, he said, residents throw parking etiquette to the wind and swoop in to nab any spot they can, instead of allowing drivers to reclaim their spots.

Covid-19 Vaccines ›

Answers to Your Vaccine Questions

With distribution of a coronavirus vaccine beginning in the U.S., here are answers to some questions you may be wondering about:

    • If I live in the U.S., when can I get the vaccine? While the exact order of vaccine recipients may vary by state, most will likely put medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities first. If you want to understand how this decision is getting made, this article will help.
    • When can I return to normal life after being vaccinated? Life will return to normal only when society as a whole gains enough protection against the coronavirus. Once countries authorize a vaccine, they’ll only be able to vaccinate a few percent of their citizens at most in the first couple months. The unvaccinated majority will still remain vulnerable to getting infected. A growing number of coronavirus vaccines are showing robust protection against becoming sick. But it’s also possible for people to spread the virus without even knowing they’re infected because they experience only mild symptoms or none at all. Scientists don’t yet know if the vaccines also block the transmission of the coronavirus. So for the time being, even vaccinated people will need to wear masks, avoid indoor crowds, and so on. Once enough people get vaccinated, it will become very difficult for the coronavirus to find vulnerable people to infect. Depending on how quickly we as a society achieve that goal, life might start approaching something like normal by the fall 2021.
    • If I’ve been vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask? Yes, but not forever. Here’s why. The coronavirus vaccines are injected deep into the muscles and stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. This appears to be enough protection to keep the vaccinated person from getting ill. But what’s not clear is whether it’s possible for the virus to bloom in the nose — and be sneezed or breathed out to infect others — even as antibodies elsewhere in the body have mobilized to prevent the vaccinated person from getting sick. The vaccine clinical trials were designed to determine whether vaccinated people are protected from illness — not to find out whether they could still spread the coronavirus. Based on studies of flu vaccine and even patients infected with Covid-19, researchers have reason to be hopeful that vaccinated people won’t spread the virus, but more research is needed. In the meantime, everyone — even vaccinated people — will need to think of themselves as possible silent spreaders and keep wearing a mask. Read more here.
    • Will it hurt? What are the side effects? The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is delivered as a shot in the arm, like other typical vaccines. The injection into your arm won’t feel different than any other vaccine, but the rate of short-lived side effects does appear higher than a flu shot. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccines, and none of them have reported any serious health problems. The side effects, which can resemble the symptoms of Covid-19, last about a day and appear more likely after the second dose. Early reports from vaccine trials suggest some people might need to take a day off from work because they feel lousy after receiving the second dose. In the Pfizer study, about half developed fatigue. Other side effects occurred in at least 25 to 33 percent of patients, sometimes more, including headaches, chills and muscle pain. While these experiences aren’t pleasant, they are a good sign that your own immune system is mounting a potent response to the vaccine that will provide long-lasting immunity.
    • Will mRNA vaccines change my genes? No. The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer use a genetic molecule to prime the immune system. That molecule, known as mRNA, is eventually destroyed by the body. The mRNA is packaged in an oily bubble that can fuse to a cell, allowing the molecule to slip in. The cell uses the mRNA to make proteins from the coronavirus, which can stimulate the immune system. At any moment, each of our cells may contain hundreds of thousands of mRNA molecules, which they produce in order to make proteins of their own. Once those proteins are made, our cells then shred the mRNA with special enzymes. The mRNA molecules our cells make can only survive a matter of minutes. The mRNA in vaccines is engineered to withstand the cell’s enzymes a bit longer, so that the cells can make extra virus proteins and prompt a stronger immune response. But the mRNA can only last for a few days at most before they are destroyed.

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