Paint the town red! Councilman wants new hydrant markings

The Brooklyn Paper
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Here are two laws that would definitely measure up.

A South Brooklyn councilman wants the city to paint red lines on curbs so that drivers know exactly how far they must park from a fire hydrant — and he wants to cut down the “no parking” zone from the longstanding 15 feet to just 10 feet.

Earlier this month, Councilman David Greenfield (D–Midwood) proposed the legislation that would require city workers to paint markings to the left and right of all 109,800 hydrants in the five boroughs. That bill works in tandem with another bill by a Queens lawmaker that would allow drivers to park five feet closer to a hydrant.

“The original 15-foot rule was issued so that fire trucks could parallel park next to hydrants,” Greenfield said. “But those trucks don’t have time to parallel park, they just pull up next to the hydrant. So they don’t need a huge amount of space.”

An extra five feet on either side of a hydrant would not only spare some drivers a ticket, but also create roughly four additional parking spaces per block.

“Parking is valuable in this city and I think that a combination of both these laws would improve the quality of life for New Yorkers,” said Greenfield.

Presently, drivers can be hit with a $115 summons for parking less than 15 feet from the pump, and without a tape measure in the glove compartment, it’s tough for many residents to know just how far that is. That’s where the red paint bill comes in.

“It could also create more parking spaces because some people are just too nervous to be the closest car to a fire hydrant even if they are more than 15 feet away,” Greenfield said.

The idea seems ideal for motorists, but the councilman has not yet determined how much the more than 200,000 curb marks will cost — and how the city will find the manpower to do all that painting.

“It’s definitely an issue to explore, but these pumps are regularly inspected, so, theoretically, a crew checking the pumps could go out and paint.” Greenfield said. “However, we would have to explore and discuss who would be responsible for doing it. It’s not a major undertaking, it’s just some red paint on the curb.”

But the city agency that maintains the pumps — the Department of Enviornmental Protection — has nothing to do with parking regulations and ticketing, which are controlled by the Department of Finance, the Department of Transportation and the Police.

Neither the Department of Environmental Protection nor the Fire Department returned a request for comment.

Even councilmembers who support Greenfield’s idea admit it might be tough to accomplish its goals.

“The city would be required to paint the curbs, and that would require a lot of manpower,” said Steve Zeltser, a spokesman for Councilman Mike Nelson (D–Sheepshead Bay), who is still in favor of the proposed curb marks.

This year in Brooklyn, nearly 120,000 tickets were dished out for parking too close to a hydrant, according to city statistics.

One of those tickets went to Kathy Jaworski, whose experience made her a backer of Greenfield’s effort.

“I thought I was a safe distance from a hydrant, but I was ticketed,” said Jaworski, who lives in Marine Park. “I think that the red markings would be helpful.”

Updated 5:22 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Marty from Slope says:
Could Greenfield be any bigger of a loser?
Dec. 15, 2010, 12:32 am
Steve from Park Slope says:
When they put in pedestrian traffic islands, council members such as Greenfield complained that they make it hard for emergency vehicles to get around. But here he is, chipping away at the space emergency vehicles have on the street.

I think the red paint is a good idea to take the guesswork out of parking, but why give fire trucks less space? Just because they don't parallel park doesn't mean they don't need a big staging area near the hydrant.

15 feet is a buffer. That means some cars may be 12 feet, or 10 feet away from the hydrant. Make the legal requirement 10 feet and you may be left with 8 or even 5 feet.

15 feet also allows non-emergency vehicles easily space to pull over and let emergency vehicles pass if they are rushing to an emergency on other streets. Make it smaller and you make it harder for average drivers to pull over to let vehicles pass, especially on narrow one-lane streets.

Greenfield, if there was an emergency on your block, wouldn't you want fire trucks to have as much space as possible?

This is a dumb idea, meant to placate Greenfield's driving constituency at the expense of real safety.
Dec. 15, 2010, 9:08 am
Ben Gazi from BH says:
Use non-violent felons to paint those curbs.
Lets get some bang for our tax dollars.
Sure beats a chain gang.
Dec. 15, 2010, 9:23 am
Jim from Windsor Terrace says:
I think it's a terrible idea. As it stands now, you can get away with being 7-8 feet away from a hydrant. If they paint lines on the ground next to it then the cop will know without a shadow of a doubt that you are 2-3 feet closer than you should be. Most people only get tickets when they park right next to the hydrant or within 5 feet of it. You can clearly tell when you are going to get a ticket for this. Anybody who ever got a ticket for parking near a fire hydrant knew in the back of their head that they were cutting it close, but rather than take it in stride and pay it they put the blame on the city for not letting them know down to the last inch where they should park. Its a waste of money, Its a waste of time for the city council to even be discussing this, but this shouldn't be a surprise considering that the city council wants to crack down on sidewalk ATMs as well. Apparently we live in a city with no budget problems as well as no problems bigger than the ATM blocking the sidewalk against someones building and the unpainted curbs near fire hydrants. Is this why we're gonna have to start paying for our own ambulances? Is this why kids have to share textbooks and desks? Is this why the MTA is raising fairs and tolls and cutting service and bus routes? The City Council GOTTA GO! They are the biggest waste of tax payer money. We should fire the city council and switch all decision making to online voting, then we can take the City Council salaries and fix some of our REAL problems.
Dec. 15, 2010, 9:34 am
boof from brooklyn says:
Obviously the demand for on-street parking overwhelms the demand. Basic economics tells us the solution is to raise the price.
Dec. 15, 2010, 9:44 am
Danny G from Queens says:
I can understand marking off the space with diagonal lines when the DOT paint crew comes around to restripe lanes or something, but to paint the whole town red sounds expensive. Wanna give Greenfield a paintbrush and let him do it on his time and his dime? And to get that extra spot or two, there will be some blocks that you gotta pull up the meters and move each one 5 feet down the block. Crazy.

The quickest, cheapest fix is to simply take responsibility for our own actions and use our feet to measure the 15'. Once you get used to how many of your paces equals 15', you don't even have to think about it.
Dec. 15, 2010, 10:20 am
kelly from park slope says:
And lose all that revenue? What on earth can the city be thinking?
Dec. 15, 2010, 2:26 pm
OhioOrrin from Wburg says:
surprised they dont revenue-raise by remaining unclear then ticketing any vehicle close.
Dec. 15, 2010, 3:02 pm
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
If "Parking is valuable in this city," as Councilmember Greenfield says, then why does the city give it away for free?
Dec. 15, 2010, 3:20 pm
tom from sunset park says:
That small adjustment would add one parking spot at each location. The anti-auto people will go wild. Imagine increasing parking in NYC. Why, that would increase driving. That will lead to faster climate change.
Dec. 15, 2010, 5:54 pm
mike from GP says:
A bad idea all around. Not only will it make it more difficult for FDNY to do their jobs, but increasing the supply of "free" parking would generate thousands of car trips, increasing congestion, pollution and danger on our streets.

Eric above had a good point -- if parking is so valuable, why do we give it away for free?

And yes, Tom, flooding our streets with even more cars is a "wild" idea. You don't need to be an "anti-auto" person to realize that it's a bad idea.
Dec. 16, 2010, 8:01 am
Anita from Park Slope says:
Greenfield is brilliant.
Dec. 16, 2010, 10:35 am
Todd from Cobble Hill says:
It's about time that painted lines are required. I no longer own a car but I found it extemely unfair that the distance was not marked. No people will not over compensate which will allow for more efficient parking and people will waste less time looking for parking spaces which will speed their journeys, waste less gas, and create less pollution. I seriously doubt it will encourage more people to drive.
Dec. 16, 2010, 10:52 am
ta from bike nation says:
Stop whining, you evil polluting monsters. Get rid of your car now, because you are going to get nothing put pain and misery from it. You will be ticketed and your cars will be vandalized until stop destroying my planet.
Dec. 16, 2010, 10:58 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
I think it's a good idea. Lots of people are getting hammered by tickets either because they're forgotten that the minimum clearance is 15 feet or because they can't judge that distance.

The city should make it the responsibility of the community boards and local volunteer groups and neighborhood associations. It's not like you need a degree in civil engineering to paint 30 feet of curb.

I think the same should be done for bus stops and no-standing zones. I got a ticket for the latter because the sign was so mangled I didn't see it.
Dec. 16, 2010, 2:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Whether it's 15 feet or 10 feet, there should be curb markings at all fire hydrants. This way people can be sure that they are the right amount from them in either direction. Honestly, I have seen the firefighters facing fires, and most of the time, they don't even park next to the curb but double park instead, and that's even if the hydrant is not blocked. My guess is that those gotting the hose and other stuff will have the space for it since the sidewalk isn't that wide. As for those who are complaining about parking, this isn't about free parking, this is about helping people know how much they need to keep by knowing what is indicated. BTW, why should us drivers have to pay to park on roads that our taxes for infrastructure, gasoline tax, and so many other fees already pay for? In a way, we are already paying for it, just through other things. I am so tired of being nickeled and dimed for things I am already paying for through my taxes and fees.
Dec. 17, 2010, 10:41 am
boof from brooklyn says:
It's always about free parking, Tal.

It's subsidized by non-drivers. How much will you pay me to not buy a car and take your spot?
Dec. 17, 2010, 10:59 am
common sense from bay ridge says:
Boof, you answered your own question. Feel free to get yourself a car and help yourself to parking on the street. If you choose not to buy a car, then you already paid yourself.
Dec. 17, 2010, 2:58 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
I'm more worried about my tax dollars being used to kill people than subsidizing street parking.
Dec. 17, 2010, 3 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Boof, it's us drivers who pay to fund your transit. In other words, it's us non-riders who give to subisidize for you to take the subways or buses wherever you want to. This is also paid by the same taxes and fees we are paying to maintain the roads we drive on. However, the whole topic isn't about if parking should be free or not, it's about indicating the space from either direction from a hydrant. Usually, I almost don't park whenever I see a hydrant, because I am not sure if I will be at least 15 feet from it, and I don't want to risk getting a ticket from that, so I don't park there. The curb markings aren't to unable more street parking, they are to help people know. As a matter of fact, I hate putting out my arm five times to measure 15 feet (a yard is usually considered arm's length and is three feet), because sometimes I don't remember where my fingertips are, so this will help me know how much is considered 15 feet. There should be a rule saying that more than three feet between cars when parking is said by the South Oxford Street Block Association to allow for every space to be filled that even an SUV or pickup truck can easily fit there without feeling the problem of being too wide.
Dec. 17, 2010, 3:45 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
What makes you think I take transit?

All transportation is subsidized, cars just happen to take up the most space for the fewest users.

And, what, so can I at least get a thank you for not owning a car and trying to take your parking space?
Dec. 22, 2010, 12:05 pm
CA3 from Bronx, NY says:
This reads as a well intended attempt to curry favor with drivers, but this could only backfire against him from those who don't drive. Not a smart move if the man is expecting to reach higher offices. I can only imagine what those who sympathize with maintaining existing, if not improved, public safety standards will do in response to this.
April 8, 2011, 9:05 pm
Keith Bennett from East New york says:
Councilman David Greenfield , I think good idea to paint were the fire hydrants line.Also was think that the fire hydrants needed to be paint and red fire alarm.We need to better our City for FDNY and citizen of New York. I was tried to find job to help paint the fire hydrants.I don't know were to apply for the job.I am willing to improve our City.I am interesting in this work. An also report bad Fire hydrants. Thank You for reading note. My email
Dec. 15, 2011, 8:44 am

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