NEW YORK -- We’ve all been there – getting a parking ticket we know we didn’t deserve.
When it happened to Ben Wellington, he decided to do something about it.
“I noticed every once in a while I would get these tickets at certain ramps that it was legal to park but I would get tickets anyway,” Wellington told PIX11 News.
Those ramps he is referring to are sidewalk pedestrian ramps.
The data scientist was just one of many New Yorkers who was hit with summonses for parking in these spots that in 2009 – after traffic rules were changed – became legal to park in.
It led the Pratt Institute researcher to dig further using the city’s open data portal.
“What I found was that the top spots that were getting pedestrian ramp tickets were actually legal parking spots,” he explained. “We saw spots that were being ticketed hundreds of times that were perfectly legal to park in. “
Wellington even made a map of the highest ticketed areas, posting it on his popular blog iQuantNY.com.
“My back of the envelope estimate is somewhere between maybe 1 and a half to 3 million annually in tickets at these legal parking spots,” he said.
The legal parking spot getting the most tickets by far was a pedestrian ramp along Ocean Avenue and Tennis Court in Brooklyn.
In the past 2 years, this money maker has logged 295 summonses which - if you do the math - is $48,000 paid by drivers for simply parking in a legal spot.
Crown Heights residents like Lenny Ruina were left dismayed at the findings.
“They’re cashing in on the tickets,” he exclaimed. “For those who don’t know – like myself we park here and then we get a ticket. We just don’t have the time to go fight it.”
The NYPD responded to the report, saying in a statement to PIX11 News that the “analysis identified errors the department made in issuing parking summonses. It appears to be a misunderstanding by officers on patrol of a recent, abstruse change in the parking rules.”
PIX11 News also reached out to the city's Department of Finance, which collects the fines.
In a statement, a spokesperson said:
“Anyone who receives a ticket they feel has been wrongly issued should request a hearing to dispute it. If you were issued a pedestrian ramp summons at a T-intersection without traffic signals, all-way stop signs or crosswalk markings, they will be dismissed at a hearing, which you can request in person, online or through the mail. For more information on the Department of Finance’s hearing process, log onto http://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/vehicles/dispute-a-ticket.page. For those who have already paid a pedestrian ramp summons fitting this description, we are currently reviewing a process for refunds.”