You may love winter for the holidays, but most of us hate winter because of the snow and it’s complications with Chicago’s winter parking bans in the city between November 25 and April 1. (yes winter lasts till April!) If you are lucky enough to have a car while living in the city of Chicago (and can afford to insure and park it somewhere) you most likely play this roulette game with parking on city streets. After you get your city sticker and whatever local street permits you need there is always the challenge of dealing with winter parking bans for street cleaning, snow removal and just overnight parking in general.
What are these Chicago Winter Parking Bans about anyway? And when do they apply?
1. From November 25 through April 1st you can not park on any arterial streets (any main streets, not the residential areas, but still look for signs) overnight between 3am and 7am any day of the week. Ignoring this ban will cost you a $50 ticket and a $150 towing fee to get your car back plus anything else the impound wants from you. ($10 per day your car sits taking up space in their lot) So, seriously it’s like $250 to get your car back. (that is why the parking department is called the Department of REVENUE)
2. Also, there are another set of snow route signs to watch out for that say that parking is illegal there only if there are 2 inches of snow or more on the ground. These are the trickier ones since if it has snowed everywhere, where else can you park? And if you had somewhere else to park you would have been there to begin with. These signs are more functional though because they have to do with snow plows actually clearing the streets and this is important.
3. Apparently there are some unfortunate areas that have both signs and both parking restrictions. Just don’t live in this neighborhood if you see these when you are apartment shopping.
What is the most frustrating thing about this situation? That the city of Chicago doesn’t even know what laws and regulations they have for parking on all the streets in Chicago. There is no map or guide as to where you can not park or what rules there are on streets listed anywhere on the internet a map here you can look up your area to see what parking restrictions you may have this winter. They don’t provide you with any guide to avoid paying these fines because they really want the revenue. How frustrating that our own city sets traps on purpose.
I have a feeling that these winter parking bans are lost on the rich people who can afford their own posh garage and on suburbanites that don’t venture into the city at all. A lot of people have learned their lesson after hundreds of dollars of parking tickets and they just sell the car and rely on public transportation. My guess is that 1/4 of the people in the office I work in don’t own a car while living in the city. It is true that most of them are under 30 also. I think walking to a bus in 20 below zero gets exponentially harder as you get older. So, stay warm this winter and keep your car off the streets and be very careful of any parking signs visible where you park in Chicago. Good luck!