As the snow fell this weekend on Montreal, the post-snowfall ritual sprang into action. It usually starts with lots of people complaining about the fact that the snow hasn’t been plowed yet. The complaints come so fast I have a feeling they’re written before the snow starts falling in the first place. With the complaints come increasingly ludicrous suggestions on how to fix the problem, such as:
- Blowing snow onto lawns, which apparently exist everywhere downtown.
- Lifting the ban on Tempo tent car shelters, which displace snow from driveways.
- Adjusting clearing schedules so that politicians’ streets are cleared last, which I’m sure will be the most logistically easy thing ever to accomplish.
- Getting out of the business entirely and give us our tax money back.
Almost all the letters are ignorant of just how much organization goes into plowing streets in Montreal, and assume that, without having spent a single second inside a snow plow, they know better how to efficiently clear streets.
Really, the complaints are more misplaced frustration at having to spend two hours digging out their car with a shovel when they were already late for work. Sadly, no magical solution has been found for that yet.
The city then gives a guesstimate about how long it will take to clear, overemphasizing the fact that more snow or rain will delay the operation.
Then, as the plows finally come by to clear the streets, car-owners who ignored no-parking signs panic to relocate them before getting a ticket.
The big difference this time is that the city decided to open up its paid parking lots for free overnight parking (when they’re not used anyway). Drivers can park their cars in them during snow-clearing operations, provided they get them out of there by 6am 7am (thanks Andy) the next day.
Except, because the move was poorly publicized (or because no one wants to get up that early), the lots sat unused this time.
So instead, drivers desperate for a place to park had to each solve the standard snowbank parking dilemma. When faced with a free spot knee-deep in snow, there are three options:
- Find some temporary place to stash the car and dig the spot out with a shovel, hoping nobody swoops in and steals the spot after you’ve cleared it (this also presents the recursive problem of where to put the car when you’re clearing the spot)
- Declare the spot unparkable, and keep going looking for another one, which most likely doesn’t exist
- Drive the car as far as it will go into the spot, and then give up, leaving it either parked diagonally, parked far from the curb, or both
The pictures below show some Montreal drivers who chose Option 3 on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
This was pretty mild compared to the diagonal parking going on.
Aside from the coolness factor of a bus passing by as I took the photo, this shows clearly that one diagonal parker begats another.
Though there are deep snowbanks here, each car clearly has another three or four feet at least behind it.
Ditto here (license plates blurred to protect the guilty).
I had to measure this one. There isn’t a single part of this car less than 10 feet (3 metres) from the curb. The law gives a maximum distance of 30 cm.
12 hours later, it’s still anarchy.
These cars all look like they’re waiting in line for the red light in the middle lane. Well, they are in the middle lane, but they’re all parked.
This one set a new record: Over 11 feet (3.3m), 11 times the legal limit.
I can’t begin to describe how illegal this park job is.
Should this be tolerated?
Even though these vehicles were all parked illegally (and drastically so), not one had a ticket in the windshield. It seems police quietly tolerate such activity during snowstorms, giving drivers a break, at the expense of traffic and especially large traffic like buses and trucks which have to squeeze through what little space is left on the road.
Is this right? Should some short-term anarchy be tolerated because of the difficulty in finding alternative spaces to park? Or should drivers be screwed over, forced en masse to find some other solution that either doesn’t exist or is already being used to capacity?