Sunday, December 2, 2007

Frisco Traffics in Vehicular Addictions

Where do you park you car?

It’s a simple question. But it’s one that evokes a passionate response among many, particularly if your answer is “on the street.”

Frisco is the quintessential suburb. With the lack of any convenient mass transportation, we’re dependant on our vehicles to get to work, shopping and most other aspects of our lives. For many of us, cars are our primary connection to the world. How many cars do we own? The average Frisco household has two to three cars. Families with kids old enough to drive can often have four or more (along with stock in the pharmaceutical company that produces their favorite headache remedy).

Meanwhile, the average Frisco home has an attached two-car garage. Doing the math, you’ll see that these – along with the requisite drive-way – should accommodate most residents. Sadly, it is a rare breed of home-owner that actually uses their garage to store their car. Instead, a surprising number of my friends and neighbors seem to have made peace with the concept of using their garage to store piles of seldom used knick-knacks, seasonal clothes and worn out furniture, while their twenty-three thousand dollar investment sits exposed to the elements.

So if their garages are full, they must use the driveway, right? Not always. Following a nationwide trend, Frisco has a large number of “rear entry” homes. These layouts provide some advantages in terms of development, but also mean that driveways are often shadowed by tall fences, making them easy targets for thieves and vandals.

That leaves the curb. A quick tour around any Frisco neighborhood tells you that a lot of our residents make that choice. There’s no law against parking your vehicle on a public street. Quite the contrary, the law states that you can park your car on the street, as long as you follow certain guidelines. And that’s where the problem starts.

One of my personal pet peeves is people who park their car too close to a corner, particularly a busy intersection. State law dictates that you leave 20 feet between your car and the corner. Too often, the people living in corner lots will park theirs right up to the edge, causing a hazard for anyone turning onto that street.

And speaking of distance, another regulation stipulates that a vehicle should be no more than 18 inches from the curb. Given the narrow nature of many residential lanes, this one can cause a real problem. If there are cars parked on each side of the street, the narrow gap between them allows only a single car to pass at a time. When this occurs on a busy street (say, on the way from my home to the local elementary school) it leads to some interesting dances between conflicted (and impatient) drivers. But the real hazard comes when parked cars creep away from the curb. In case you haven’t seen one lately, fire trucks and ambulances aren’t small. While you may be able to squeeze your mini-van through the gap, the same may not be true for emergency crews, leading to the loss of valuable time.

Another gripe I hear a lot is people parking in front of other people’s homes. This one people will just have to deal with. Face it, you don’t own the street in front of your home. And the law says anyone can park there. (Don’t confuse this with privately-maintained roads found in some gated communities in town.) Nobody is going to pass a law that says someone can’t park their car in front of your home. If it really bothers you, talk to the vehicle owner and ask them politely to move it. Otherwise, put it on the agenda for your next anger therapy session.

Frisco has several ordinances on the books to help ensure that people don’t leave broken-down heaps propped up on blocks for generations. But beyond that we have to recognize that we live in a community where personal vehicles abound. As with anything of this sort, there’s bound to be some friction. So the next time you have to choose, leave the car in the driveway. Better yet, dust off that “honey-do” list and get the garage cleaned out. You’ll sleep better knowing that your car has replaced that 7-year-old treadmill behind a locked door.

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