If you’re not a native resident of Chicago but happen to be passing through, understanding Chicago parking and how long it’s safe to park there can be difficult. While there are tons of parking garages and residential parking arrangements, your best bet as a tourist is to get the lay of the land and have a good idea of what will and will not get you a ticket. Here are 6 Tips for Understanding Chicago Parking – both short and long term.
1) The Basic Don’ts
Every city has its own code of conduct when it comes to parking. How far you can park from stop signs, crosswalks, fire hydrants, and specially marked areas should be understood so you don’t accidentally cross one of the written or unwritten rules. Here’s a quick Chicago refresher:
- Vehicle over 6 feet tall: Park at least 20 feet from a crosswalk (this means you SUVs and Pickups)
- Vehicle under 6 feet tall: keep your bumper off the crosswalk
- 20 feet away from stop signs
- 15 feet away from fire hydrants
- Yellow means NO parking, not parking sometimes if no one is looking
- Do not park in bike or bus lanes. These keep bikes and buses out of the flow of normal traffic.
2) Read the Meter Signs
Meter parking is one of the necessary evils of any big city and Chicago is doing its best to make this simple and easy for everyone. Most pay boxes have been updated to accept convenient payment types like credit and debit cards and then print you a receipt to stick in your windshield, but the amounts are different from area to area. Make sure to read the signs carefully so you know how much time you’re paying for.
3) Winter Ban on Overnight Parking
Most of the year, if you find an unmetered parking spot on the street, you can park there for free overnight. However, in the coldest part of winter between December 1 to March 31, you should not leave your car overnight on most main streets and certain residential streets. This is because the snow plows tend to roll through between the hours of 3 am and 7 am and you don’t want your car to be in the way. The ban is still active even if there is no snow.
4) The Dibs System
Snow, in fact, is a pretty big part of parking etiquette during the colder months in Chicago. One of the unwritten rules is the law of ‘Dibs’. People who shovel their own parking spot after a snowfall often leave a marker in place to reserve that spot for their cars. This is a tradition of nearly 50 years and you do not want to be caught by the locals violating the dibs rule. If you see a cleared parking spot with a folding chair or some other seemingly random item in the middle of it, avoid that spot as it belongs to someone who will defend it adamantly.
5) Street Cleaning Day
Finally, there is one more circumstance in which you should be careful where you park. Between April and November, street cleaning teams work from neighborhood to neighborhood and while they are active or scheduled, parking is not permitted. Keep an eye out for bright orange signs and avoid those areas between 9am and 3pm.
6) Book it with ParqEx
Of course, with the right preparation, there’s no need to worry about where and when to park. Residents who understand the system and have their own personal parking spaces are there to help. Through the ParqEx mobile app, you can find an available parking spot near your desired location, book it, and park there secure in the knowledge that you won’t get towed, ticketed, or come back to an angry message about ‘dibs violations’. With ParqEx, we’ve got you covered.
For more tips about parking in Chicago or anywhere else in the US, contact us today!