Don’t park on the shoulder at the airport, you can get fined

May 25, 2023, 5:01 AM | Updated: 6:59 am

park shoulder airport fine...

There are giant signs on the side of the road reading you cannot park there, and yet, every time I drive by, there is a line of cars sitting on the left shoulder.(Photo from Chris Sullivan)

(Photo from Chris Sullivan)

It’s already stressful enough to head to the airport on a day like this before a holiday weekend. Don’t add to the problem by parking on the side of the airport expressway while waiting for your people to arrive.

This is something I have never understood. There are giant signs on the side of the road reading you cannot park there, and yet, every time I drive by, there is a line of cars sitting on the left shoulder.

More Chokepoints: New survey tracks how we travel for the greater good

There is a perfectly fine cell phone lot a quarter-mile away where you can wait and not endanger your life or the lives of others. Port of Seattle Police Sergeant Daniel Breed said it’s not worth the risk.

“Parking on the shoulder is very dangerous,” Breed said. “If somebody pulls out, they could get rear-ended. It happens on the freeways. People get rear-ended on the shoulders of the freeway, so it’s very dangerous to park there.”

Now I can hear you thinking, ‘I’m only there for a few minutes, what’s the big deal?’ It’s selfish, and it’s not safe. It makes a stressful situation for everyone much worse.

You’re also staring down a $50 fine if officers want to cite you.

“We do enforcement out there, number one, so we will ticket people out there,” Breed said. The excuses he’s heard have included, ‘Hey I’m confused,’ ‘I don’t understand,’ even though the sign says no parking.  Some have even said they thought the shoulder was the cell phone lot.

No one is buying that. There’s an even bigger blue sign for the cell phone lot. The shoulder is not a cell phone lot.

Why do people do this?

Breed believes it’s because travelers have a skewed view of the time it takes to get off their plane to the curb outside the terminal.

“When people get off the airplane and say I’ve arrived, the person picking up the person says I gotta get there immediately to pick this person up,” Breed said. “Arriving is different than actually arriving on the drive. There’s still a 20 to 30-minute window to when you get out to the shoulder.”

So go to the cell phone lot and wait for your people to tell you they are at the curb. Then go.

“When it gets really bad, where you see a complete line of cars, that’s probably when we will likely do enforcement,” Breed said. “We don’t like doing enforcement. We don’t like giving people tickets, but it’s the only way we can drive home the point of this is a dangerous situation. We need people not to park here.”

If you want another option, here is Breed’s “top secret” move. The one he uses when picking people up at the airport.

Use the parking garage. Not to park but to meet your people. You get 10 minutes in the garage before you have to pay.

“If you can arrange it properly, have your party go into the garage and be waiting for you,” he said. “You pull in, pick them up and pull out. There’s no charge for that.”

And even if you take 11 minutes and get charged, it’s only eight dollars. Much better than the $50 fine for sitting on the side of the expressway illegally.

That $50 fine also applies if you are parking at the terminal and waiting too long for your people.

Would you park on the side of a freeway and pull out a book? Of course not. Why would you do it on the expressway to the airport?

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.


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Don’t park on the shoulder at the airport, you can get fined