Deep and icy side-street ruts in St. Paul and Minneapolis are taking motorists on predetermined courses not unlike the bobsled run in Sochi. Steering is not an option, and in some cases drivers find themselves coming dangerously close to parked cars.
Some motorists are coming too close, making this a great winter for those who earn a living doing side-mirror repairs, not to mention body work and tire sales.
Narrow streets became such a problem in Minneapolis last weekend that officials limited parking to the odd-numbered side of non-snow-emergency routes under restrictions that could last until April. Officials in St. Paul said they might follow suit with a similar plan this week.
That seems advisable, although restricting parking to one side of residential streets is not a decision municipal officials like to make. The hassle factor is high for residents already tired of shivering, shoveling and driving on snow-and-ice-packed streets.
As the Star Tribune’s Pat Pheifer reported Monday, the Whittier, Uptown and Phillips neighborhoods looked like “ant farms” Sunday as drivers searched for parking spaces on the odd-numbered sides of streets.
“This is ridiculous,” a frustrated apartment building resident complained to Pheifer before eventually finding a space a block from his home on the 2200 block of Garfield Avenue S.
While statewide impatience is understandable in this bear of a winter, public safety is a greater concern. Emergency vehicles must be able to get where they’re needed, and once there they need room to maneuver.
What’s truly ridiculous is that so many drivers fail to pay attention to parking restrictions, making it even more difficult for road crews to clear the streets and for emergency vehicles to pass.
It’s been a brutal winter for all of us, including public works employees charged with keeping our streets clear and emergency workers trying to keep us safe. What they most need now is our patience and cooperation — not our complaints.