When I was growing up in Bay Ridge, I often saw car-dealership cars parked on the sidewalk. In fact, I thought it was a normal part of life, and never stopped to dwell on it.
Article 32 – of NY Vehicle and Traffic Law, Title VII, Sections 1201-1202 prohibit any person from stopping, standing, or parking a vehicle on the sidewalk. (Article 32 can be viewed here.) It was difficult to definitively find the fine, but it looks like a $115 ticket. Moreover, parking a car-dealership car even on the public street is also subject to the law. The NYC Department of Transportation states that “…no person shall park a commercial vehicle in any area, including a residential area, in excess of three hours.” (Accessible here.)
A cursory search of the issue reveals it to be common in Bay Ridge, Bayside, Manhattan’s West side, Kensington, Sheepshead Bay, and most likely other neighborhoods. Although beyond the scope of this post, Transportation Alternatives produced a good study on city employees parking illegally in Chinatown and Civic Center (Accessible here).
Often, most of us wouldn’t think much of illegally parked cars on the sidewalk, casually accepting its occurrence as a nuisance. However, sidewalks are an important public good in NYC, acting both as a mode of transportation for non-vehicles (cars, bikes, or otherwise) and as an expression of our character and orientation as a city. You can learn a lot of a city’s essence from its design and appearance of its sidewalks. Many car dealerships leave several cars on the sidewalk, ruining both its purpose for walking and engendering a sub-urban or even slightly alienating feel. Understanding and appreciating the sidewalk as a public good beyond its appearance as a walking space is important to understanding the uniqueness of NYC.
If you witness cars parked on the sidewalk, you can report the dealership or any private/public organization to 311 and the local Community Board.