if I only had a driveway

March 6, 2011

One of my least favorite things about Ithaca can be summed up in a few words, significant from November through April: every other side of the street parking.

Cornell students of all years are allowed to keep a car at school, and there are many students that choose to do so.  I have mixed and matched— my first semester at Cornell, when I was living in the Collegetown dorm Sheldon Court, I did not bring my* car to Ithaca. Junior year I kept it on the street outside my Collegetown apartment, except from winter break through spring break when I brought it home to avoid the inevitable battle between car, hill and snow. This year, however, my relationship with Ithaca hit a rough patch when I decided to stick it out and keep my car here for the entirety of spring semester.

The thing is, I don’t like to drive in the snow, and especially not on the huge hill to which the title of this blog series refers. I had a scarring incident in high school involving ice, a hill, and brake failure, and ever since then I have harbored a crippling anxiety about driving in winter weather.

This can be problematic, especially considering that

a) I live on the steepest part of an incredibly steep hill

b) I don’t want to shell out $50-100/month for an off-the-street parking space

c) Ithaca gets a lot of snow

d) Street parking can be very hard to find, especially after 9 pm

and, most of all,

e) From November through April every year, much of Collegetown adopts a new parking policy to accommodate for efficient snow removal. Parking is allowed only on one side of the street each night, and it alternates every night. This means that in order to avoid parking tickets, you have to move your car from one side of the street to the other every 24 hours.

(Note to self: pay parking tickets)

Bottom line: There honestly isn’t a reason why you need to bring a car to Cornell. Despite the gargantuan acreage of Cornell (over 700 altogether, thank you very much), the longest walk to class that most students have is in the 15-25 minute range. If that seems like a long walk, there’s the extensive bus system, TCAT, that has numerous stops throughout Ithaca as well as on campus (tour fact: all students get a free bus pass for their first year at Cornell, and after the first year can still ride for free after 6 pm and all day on the weekends).  Practically no one drives to class, as an on-campus parking permit is expensive and parking scarce. Some students get parking through their Greek house, while in Collegetown some find apartments where a parking space is included in rent. But for the most part, when it comes to parking,  Collegetown residents are roaming the streets for a spot, collecting parking tickets, and sliding into the car[s] in front while parked on the hill.

(note to self: pay parking tickets)

I like to have my car here because it makes it easier to go grocery shopping, and to travel to and from home  or take day or weekend trips. However, many of my friends also have cars, so finding a ride to Wegmans or Target is never really a problem, and I could always take the Shortline bus or find a rideshare on Craigslist to wherever I’d want to go.

If you are going to brave the Collegetown streets and on-the-street parking, I would highly recommend equipping your car with a snow brush, a shovel, snow tires, and/or snow chains. Four wheel drive can’t hurt either.  (None of which I have, of course— hence this post)

*surely every member of my immediate family will object to the fact that I’ve publicly referred to it as my car, so this footnote is for you guys: the ownership of the Honda has never been proven.

11 Responses to “if I only had a driveway”

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    Very timely clarification, since we have just received the auto insurance bill; I will forward it.

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