To many, parking in a valid parking spot is about avoiding the fine, which is $162 or higher in spots along the Yuba River. Why do people park like this? The decision to park illegally often is influenced by other factors. For example, if you made plans with friends days ago to meet at the crossing, spent an hour driving there only to find that all the designated space are taken, what do you do? You don’t have cell service, so you can’t call people and tell them. Maybe you decide to park in a space where your vehicle doesn’t quite fit. What do out of towners who made the 3-hour journey with friends and family in tow do? Some decide a parking spot is worth the $162 fine.
The fine is not, however, merely a way to generate revenue. Parking outside of designated parking spots can lead to some dire consequences at the river. Parking tickets are meant to disincentivize people from obstructing emergency vehicles trying to get to the river or beyond it.
Let’s look at the facts. If you’ve been down to the Highway 49 crossing, you are well aware that the roads are rather windy with many blind corners. Add to this pedestrians walking on the narrow shoulder to get to the crossing, often with bags of river gear or opening their doors into traffice. This makes safe driving difficult.
If someone is injured at the river, large emergency vehicles need to navigate this rather precarious situation. Cars parked over the white line combined with oncoming traffic and blind corners make the drive to rescue someone dangerous. The result: increased response times in a location that already takes 20-30 minutes to access.
Further, should a fire spark in the canyon, the situation is equally as challenging. Fire trucks are approximately 8 to 10 feet wide and they need extra room to maneuver, especially given their length. Cars parked over the line or in restricted spaces obstruct their passage. Given that nearly all of Nevada County is rated as High or Very High Risk for wildfire, fast responses are essential (for more information about wildfire risks, click here).
The threat of a $162 fine is not the primary reason people should park responsibly. Safety is. Parking illegally—whether it is at Highway 49, Purdon, Edwards, or Bridgeport—can result in increased response times to both injuries and fire.
If you have plans to visit the river this summer, we encourage you to obey all parking signs to help keep our community safe. If the parking at the area you planned to visit is full, take the opportunity to explore another part of the watershed! You never know…you might find your new favorite spot.