Editor’s note: Former Traffic Q&A scribe Adam Lynn is substituting this week for regular correspondent Candice Ruud, who is expected back in the driver’s seat next Monday.
Q: What does the law say about parking cars in driveways in such a way that the rear end blocks the sidewalk?
A: Maybe you’ve come across this yourself, dear reader.
Maybe it was while you were taking the pug out for its morning constitutional. Maybe it was while you were following the toddler as she pedaled her tricycle around the block. Maybe you were just out for a stroll while trying to decipher how Sound Transit valued your car as part of the Sound Transit 3 financial package.
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Point being you were walking on the sidewalk when you found yourself confronted with an obstacle. There, blocking your path, was the southern end of a north-facing Kia Sorento, most of its length contained in the owner’s driveway but that last bit extending over the sidewalk. Maybe it was more than that, even.
Aggravating to be sure. Discourteous without doubt. Illegal?
As is our wont here at Traffic Q&A headquarters, to answer that question we went first to the source documents, starting with the Tacoma Municipal Code.
That tome prescribes a $35 fine for cars found “parked on sidewalk/planting strip” and cites to RCW 46.61.570 for the authority to do so.
RCW 46.61.570, titled “Stopping, standing, or parking prohibited in specified places — Reserving portion of highway prohibited,” states the following:
(1) Except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or official traffic control device, no person shall: (a) Stop, stand or park a vehicle: (ii) On a sidewalk or street planting strip.”
That law goes on to say other things, including that you are not allowed to park on a crosswalk or within an intersection.
But we digress.
We were left feeling a little unsure about our interpretation of that law. Is it really “parking” on the sidewalk if all four wheels are on your driveway? Is blocking the sidewalk the same as parking on it?
Off to Tacoma police spokeswoman Lorreta Cool we went.
Cool thoughtfully sent us a copy of RCW 46.61.570.
“As you can see, they tried to cover every possible excuse for bad parking in the RCW’s below,” she said. “All said, the best safe way to park if you cannot fit into your driveway is marked below in blue.”
That blue bit was this subsection of RCW 46.61.575, titled “Additional parking regulations”:
“Except as otherwise provided in this section, every vehicle stopped or parked upon a two-way roadway shall be so stopped or parked with the right-hand wheels parallel to and within twelve inches of the right-hand curb or as close as practicable to the right edge of the right-hand shoulder.”
A classic workaround, my friend, which might save you from a $35 ticket at most and dirty looks from your sidewalk-using neighbors at minimum.