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Blocked parking spaces above, derailed trains below

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  December 23, 2009 04:18 PM

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There are reasons why Boston is one of America's greatest walking cities, and it's not because of the Freedom Trail.

Take this week, for instance. You can't park a car without risking severe property damage, and our debt-ridden subway system rewards riders with delays and derailments. And considering there haven't been fires or crashes underground, this is a good week.

Days after the city's first snowstorm of the season, Southie residents pulled their usual nonsense, placing dead plants and kitty litter bags to save shoveled-out parking spaces from their lazy, non-shoveling neighbors. The area is known for its swift retaliation should an unknowing visitor move a purple beach chair, or a sofa, toilet, or playground equipment. Last year, Elvis himself saved a spot.

I decided to one-up the neighborhood's tomfoolery by driving through it in a 2010 Mustang GT convertible with the top down, gloves on, and summer-loving Pirelli P-Zeros. But I wasn't that stupid, with my Michigan manufacturer license plate and soft, slash-ready roof, to wedge into a claimed spot. On I Street alone, I counted about a dozen and a half "space savers" - most of them ordinary trash cans and chairs - in just a few blocks.

An actual rule allows Boston residents to litter curbside spaces with their garbage up to 48 hours after a declared snow emergency. On K Street, I hesitated to back into the one empty spot I found, thinking some jerky pedestrian might have swiped the barbecue grill that was there a moment ago.

"We started collection this morning. We take what's out there and then they come out and put something else there," said Public Works Deputy Commissioner Elmo Baldassari. "It's an ongoing battle."

If you've got family and friends in Boston, be wise and make them visit you instead.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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