Parking signs are intentionally confusing, especially in the cities. Take a close look at the rules and exceptions on the parking signs, and you'll see things like:
- Zone 2 permit holders only
- Express pick-up: 15 minutes only
- Monday-Friday: 2:30PM – 4PM & 6:30PM – 10PM
First, you have to squint and read the sign and check for the exceptions; then you have to interpret the day and the time. Sometimes signs on top of signs: one for the 3-hour parking, one for 2-hour parking, and one for all day parking. Sometimes signs are fifty feet down the block, and you miss it. Holy shit. So you ultimately take your chances and risk getting towed.
In New York, parking is a tax. On top of that, the signs are ubiquitous and ambiguous, so people fear to park at all. Residents and visitors walk and take public transportation instead.
Cities don't want people driving. Thankfully, self-driving cars are on the way to eliminate the self-doubt. Once cars start talking to other cars and pay machines, the madness will go away. But for now, parking sucks. And on top of that, some cities don't want you there in the first place.