I live in a city, and it’s a winter city. The area I call home has traditionally seen streets lined with milk crates, plastic chairs and random pieces of furniture; it’s how people in my neighborhood save their parking spots.
Some of you have no doubt seen something similar. And honestly, it makes a bit of sense (especially after I spent 2 hours shoveling out my car, then shoveling the space it was in). Driving home last night, however, I decided I absolutely hate this habit.
Although it takes a lot of work (like, heart attack inducing amounts) to get your space cleared, it is awful to put stuff in the street to protect what you’ve done, rather than trusting others to also do their piece to clear the street. When we were hit by over 13 inches of snow, the next morning everyone on my street was out, shoveling, snow blowing, talking and waving. It was the first time I’ve felt like I live in a community, rather than in a block of houses. I personally shoveled our house and my car, plus my neighbors’ sidewalk (they are old and decrepit).
When I drove home from work around 5:30, there was no space.
My entire street was filled with chairs and milk crates (not cars).
When you live in a city, like it or not, you’re part of a larger community. Your actions impact others on your block, in your neighborhood. Just as we are responsible for shoveling our sidewalks (so people don’t slip and die when trying to talk), cutting our grass (so the block doesn’t look bad) and boarding up windows that are broken (to prevent all sorts of nastiness), we should also accept shoveling spaces as a part of community responsibility.
I live on a public street with no driveways, where the alleys and garages are inaccessible after a huge snowfall. It’s not fair to expect parts of a public street to be reserved only for you, no matter how much shoveling you’ve done. That’s part of the street that’s not accessible all day – even if you’re at work 9-5. That’s a part of the street unavailable to our postal workers, or an ambulance. And it’s a dick move. Really. (even though people will argue forever that it’s not).
A few cities are passing ordinances and trying to take a stand against this kind of space saving, but we’ll see how well it works. For the time being, maybe we need to try and remember that we don’t just shovel out our cars and spaces for us – we do it for everyone who uses the street. Let’s honor this social contract and through our behavior, teach others to do the same.