Parking On A Sidewalk Is A Big NO In NYC

Parking On A Sidewalk Is A Big No in NYC

Summary & Quick Facts

  • You are not allowed to park, stop or stand on any sidewalk in NYC.
  • Stopping, standing or parking on a sidewalk will land you a $115 parking ticket.
  • It is possible to get a parking ticket if your car’s wheel is on the curb of the sidewalk.
  • If you have a legal curb cut and driveway/parking area, you can park your car on the sidewalk that lies on your side of the property line

Parking On A Sidewalk In NYC

It seems obvious that parking on a sidewalk in NYC is out of the question for many reasons. The most important reason, of course, considers this from a safety perspective: a blocked sidewalk is problematic for all pedestrians as well as people who rely on motorized vehicles to get around town. Why? A blocked sidewalk can cause unnecessary traffic to spill into the street. Subsequently, this can create a very hazardous space where both pedestrians and drivers are at risk of accidents and injuries. 

When cars encroach on the space of pedestrians, this can make traversing the city dangerous for those on foot. Pedestrians should not have to find themselves forced from the relative safety of the sidewalk and into the street simply because their walking path is blocked by a vehicle. For this reason, the city aggressively goes after drivers who park badly and wind up on the sidewalk. Sometimes, parking enforcement agents may even give a ticket to a car whose wheels are touching the curb. If you ever have received a parking ticket for this, this article is for you!


What Is The Sidewalk?

It may seem pretty mundane, but it’s important to be aware and knowledgeable about traffic laws and regulations when you’re cruising the city. Knowing the city’s legal definition of a sidewalk, for example, will definitely help you down the road. This is especially handy if you do happen to get a parking ticket and choose to fight it. The city defines a sidewalk here in The NYC Traffic Rules, 4-01, Words and Phrases Defined Section:

Sidewalk. A “sidewalk” shall mean that portion of a street, whether paved or unpaved, between the curb lines or the lateral lines of a roadway and the adjacent property lines intended for the use of pedestrians. Where it is not clear which section is intended for the use of pedestrians, the sidewalk will be deemed to be that part of the street between the building line and the curb.

Seems pretty straightforward until you really think about it. One pressing question that may vex drivers is this: Is the curb part of the sidewalk or roadway? Of course, things start to get a little complicated here. According to information available to all city residents on the NYC website, the curb is considered to be a part of the roadway and owned by the City of New York.  

Some sidewalk curbs have sections that dip down to street level. These usually are found at pedestrian ramps and entrances to public and private driveways. This section is called a curb cut and according to the DOT, it is the area of a sidewalk that has been lowered, or cut down, to facilitate access to the street. While the curb is considered part of the roadway, you can still get a ticket for having the wheels of your car on top of the curb or even touching the curb or curb cut.  Try to stay off it! 


Sidewalk Violation

Code 51 Stopping, standing or parking on a sidewalk. $115

NYC’s Violation Codes and regulations strictly regulate sidewalk parking. Code 51 explicitly forbids drivers from stopping, standing or parking on a sidewalk. In layman’s terms, this means no part of your vehicle can be on the sidewalk for any reason. You cannot stop in the middle of a sidewalk to unload or load merchandise. Nor are you allowed to drop off or pick up passengers. If you do so you are not only facing a parking ticket that will set you back $115. The city will undoubtedly boot and, before you know it, tow your car as well! 


One Exception To The Sidewalk Rule

Believe it or not, there is one slight exception to this rule that allows drivers to park on the sidewalk. Drivers who are lucky enough to have a legal driveway at their homes can take advantage of this. How is this possible you ask? Let’s look back at the latter half of the law defining what a sidewalk is:

“Where it is not clear which section is intended for the use of pedestrians, the sidewalk will be deemed to be that portion of the street between the building line and the curb.”

Let’s break down the slightly confusing wording. Sidewalks across the city come in a variety of sizes depending on the zoning and typography of the neighborhood. Some sidewalks in the city are quite wide in front of certain properties. Although property owners are responsible for the maintenance of the entire sidewalk, this line in the law specifies and defines where the public sidewalk (where pedestrians can walk) starts and end. That is, between the curb of the street and the “building line” that defines where a private property lot begins.

The Only Place You Can Park On A Sidewalk


The Only Portion Of The Sidewalk You Can Park On

Here, if your legal driveway extends through the sidewalk and past the “building” or property line, you can park your car on the sidewalk that lies on your side of the property line. Please remember this only applies to homes that have legal curb cuts and driveways or parking areas that extend into their property and is not on a portion of the sidewalk where pedestrians have the right to walk.  A curb cut is legal only if the parking area is on the side or rear of the home in question. If your property has a driveway or parking space due to an illegal curb cut, you may receive a parking ticket for parking on a sidewalk as well as fines from the city.

Even if you do have a legal curb cut and driveway, still, there’s a chance you might get a parking ticket from a zealous traffic enforcement officer. In the case you have to fight this parking ticket, be sure to have evidence supporting your claim. This means you should have evidence such as your property’s records/surveys, the NYC digital tax map, and photos of where you parked your car on the day you got the ticket.


Sidewalks And Motorcycles

Motorcyclists in New York City often do park on the sidewalk. After all, motorcycles are much smaller than cars and take up less sidewalk real estate. While you may be able to dodge a ticket for parking on the sidewalk, don’t always bank on it! Sure in the outer boroughs you can get away with parking it on the sidewalk for a few hours. Perhaps you may even get away with parking on a sidewalk overnight without getting a ticket. But beware, this may not fly in less residential and more heavily trafficked areas like Midtown Manhattan or Downtown Brooklyn. If you have received a parking ticket for parking on a sidewalk, don’t let it sit there! Learn the best ways to pay a parking ticket or fight a parking ticket instead. 


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