Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Winning Holiday Parking Turf Wars

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Winning Holiday Parking Turf Wars

Article excerpt

This being the season when shoppers spend too many waking hours searching for a 9-by-18-foot patch of real estate, who could argue with Francis Stouter's nomination for yuletide's most beautiful lights?

"Backup lights!" said the Wyckoff reader.

Yes! Spotting a car backing out of a space on a street or in a crowded mall parking lot can produce more road warrior joy than any brightly lit tree. After all, a University of California study found that motorists searching for parking spaces in a 15-block section of Los Angeles drove 950,000 extra miles a year -- the same as 38 trips around the Earth or four trips to the moon. Besides wasting time, these cumulative journeys used up 47,000 gallons of gasoline and produced 730 tons of carbon dioxide.

How do we beat such odds?

There's a lot of practical information on the Internet, like shopping before 10 a.m., and several parking experts are writing books on the topic.

One urban planning professor, for example, suggests taking the first spot you see in a big parking lot instead of waiting for a space closer to a mall entrance because studies show waiting or cruising takes longer.

But this season we prefer the advice of veteran North Jersey shoppers like George Reskakis, the Teaneck dentist whose high standards require him to always, always seek out the space closest to the shop of his choice.

"Nothing is more frustrating," he reasoned, "than grabbing a space three blocks away only to walk up to your destination and have a spot open right there."

Here are two more Reskakis parking rules:

* Open the windows and listen for engines running. "You hear the car leaving a space before you see its lights," he said. "Sometimes that's the edge you need."

* Lose the car in front of you. "If it turns right, you turn left," he noted. "Otherwise, it'll always beat you to a space."

All good points. But the tip I like best comes from a Teaneck lawyer: "Bring a giant with you," counseled George Friedman.

As any attorney might tell you, this tip works best when there's a dispute, like the one he witnessed between two men over a handicapped space. …

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