Parking in Chicago? The streets can be perilous!

If you are driving in Chicago, chances are near 100% that you will be placing your car on the street at some time.  You need to know what to be aware of so you can avoid getting parking tickets and getting towed.

1)  Winter Overnight Parking Ban - Most of us have heard about this but only know vague details.  The worst is finding out when your car is gone especially since this means your car will have been towed in winter.  The ban is from December 1st until April 1st, from 3 AM to 7 AM on select streets.  Check out more Winter Parking ban information here.  Once you have the street parking ban info down or April 1st comes, don't think you're in the clear.  Street cleaning bans start right after the Winter Parking ban ends!

2)  Street Cleaning Ban - This has got to be one of the most frustrating and irritating things about parking on the streets of Chicago.  From April 1st to November 1st the fated street sweeper comes through on a rotating schedule across the city of Chicago.  It's like a big blue phantom that rears it's head in the form of bright orange envelopes that show up on your car demanding a cash payment of $75.  Some streets have permanent signs that denote things like 3rd Tuesday of the month.  Others have temporary orange signs that get put up the day (sometimes night before) the wretched machine comes through.  The streets need to get cleaned but the current system makes it near impossible for even the most organized citizens to know when the machine is coming through.  If you plan on parking in the city, make sure you are aware of the street sweeping schedule.

3)  Residential Permit Parking -  Many residential neighborhoods have RPP requirements that differ by street and by ward.  Some have all day restrictions where you can't park in a certain area at all.  Some allow you to park during the day, but after a certain time (for example) 6pm you can get a ticket if you leave your car parked on the street.  There are temporary day passes you can get from area residents (if you are visiting friends or family).  Do note that it is illegal to by or sell residential permit parking passes.

4)  Expired Parking Meters - Think you won't get a ticket?  This is Chicago.  The ticketing folks don't sleep.  They are always out and about.  You're on a dark, quiet street with nobody around...  There is probably someone waiting in the dark to give you a parking ticket.  Feed the meter.  They accept credit cards and there's an app so not having change is not an issue in Chicago.  One thing to also be aware of is maxium time restrictions.  Some only allow you to park for a maximum of two hours.  The time restrictions vary by street but are noted at each paybox.  Street parking rates range from $1.50 to $6.50 an hour.  Parking garages are another good option and great alternative.  

5)  Expired Plates & No Front Plate - Make sure your vehicle sticker and plates aren't expired.  This is one of the first things looked at when checking what to give parking tickets for.  You also need to have a front license plate.  This is a hugely "popular" ticket received.  For people who live out of state this is not a problem, but for Illinois residents make sure if you park on the streets of Chicago you have a front license plate on so you don't get "popped" with one of the lovely orange envelopes.

Mark Lawrence is a Chicago resident born and raised and the Co-Founder of the website for Chicago Parking.