Peculiar Pittsburgh

It’s illegal to park your car facing the wrong way on Pittsburgh streets. But who knew!

Pittsburgh Parking Authority just wants you to be safe.

One of these cars is not like the others.

One of these cars is not like the others.

mj slaby / the incline
MJ Slaby

It’s a Pittsburgh mystery that causes out-of-town drivers looking for a parking spot to do a double take:

Why can parked cars face both directions on the same side of a Pittsburgh street? 

An anonymous question-asker posed this question to our Peculiar Pittsburgh series, where readers ask us about the city and the region, and we investigate.

The short answer is they can’t.

In the same way that parking on the sidewalk is common but illegal, cars are not allowed to park facing both directions on the same side of a street. Per the City of Pittsburgh’s code of ordinances:

[…] no owner of a vehicle shall allow the vehicle to stop, stand or park in a roadway other than parallel with the edge of the roadway, headed in the direction of traffic, and with the curb side wheels of the vehicle within six (6) inches of the edge of the roadway […]

And per state law:

Except as otherwise provided in this section, every vehicle standing or parked upon a two-way highway shall be positioned parallel to and with the right-hand wheels within 12 inches of the right-hand curb or, in the absence of a curb, as close as practicable to the right edge of the right-hand shoulder.

While it may seem harmless, Pittsburgh Parking Authority Executive Director David Onorato told The Incline via email that it’s about safety.

“When drivers park facing the wrong way it is evident that at some point the driver of said vehicle crossed over the centerline of the road which is never considered a safe driving maneuver,” he wrote. When a driver leaves that space, he said, they pull into head-on traffic and could have a blind spot from the car parked in front of them.

There are no hotspots in the city for this brand of illegal parking, and overall, it’s less common than other enforcement violations, Onorato said.

But it still happens.

If you violate this law, you’ll get a warning or $55 ticket issued during routine parking enforcement.

We wanted to know just how frequently these tickets and warnings were being issued, soThe Incline sent a records request to the Pittsburgh Parking Authority for ticket data from Jan. 1, 2017 to Aug. 20, 2018.

In 2017, 1,037 tickets and 6 warnings were issued across the city, and drivers received 964 tickets and 460 warnings through Aug. 20 of this year. These charts show a breakdown of those by month:

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