The New York Daily News has uncovered a ticket trap that catches some of New York’s most vulnerable drivers: the illiterate.
Just four spaces on Prospect Park West generated $72,000 in ticket revenue over six months last year, according to data obtained from the city by Greg Smithsimon, a professor at Brooklyn College.
“I felt stupid,” said Mr. Smithsimon, according to the Daily News.
Next to these spaces are two signs dictating the spaces’ use. The higher one, in red, states that no standing is allowed from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day from April 1 to September 30. The lower one, in white, carves out one 90-minute block a week for street cleaning.
Most New Yorkers with a car know that a parking space is illegal if any restriction applies. Yet despite submitting a dissertation (one presumes), passing written and visual tests to obtain his license, and putting together a note warning other drivers of the alleged trap, Mr. Smithsimon was unable to parse the sign, which passersby on a recent afternoon called “plain as day” and “easy to read”.
He deferred instead to the white painted lines on the street, assuming they were there to mark a legal space. (They do, in fact: for 10 hours a day during the summer, and 24 hours a day during the winter, except for 90 minutes on Tuesdays, which is why that second sign is there.)
According to Gonzo Jones, an attorney specializing in disability law, illiteracy can qualify a person for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“If the disability stems from an actual impairment, and not from some cultural or economic disadvantage, then it could be subject to ADA protections,” said Mr. Jones, citing strokes as a common reason for illiteracy in adulthood.
“Although,” he added, “I imagine it would be hard to be a professor if one suddenly couldn’t read.”