SpotHero School: Decoding Parking Signs

Figuring out parking signs can sometimes feel like deciphering a foreign language. If trying to figure out parking signs has you scratching your head, then school is in session! Here is a breakdown of some of the most common parking signs, courtesy of SpotHero.

Standing Zone:

These signs are typically posted in high-traffic areas and often have hours listed on them. A common source of confusion is what the hours mean; can you park and leave your car in the spot during the posted hours or not? Wonder no more; if you are in the spot during the hours posted on the sign, that means you have 15 minutes to remain in the spot with your hazards on, or risk receiving a ticket or being towed. Are you arriving outside the sign’s posted times? Well then you’re in luck! Unless noted otherwise, the spot is a regular parking space outside the posted time frame.

Loading Zone:

Loading zones are most frequently found in high-traffic areas. These spaces are intended for commercial vehicles only, such as delivery vans and trucks. If you are driving a personal vehicle and see a loading zone sign, you cannot park or stand in the space. 

Metered Parking:

Metered parking is typically in effect during a certain time frame in high-traffic areas. Many cities now use “smart” parking meters that take cash, cards and change and can serve as a payment method for multiple spaces. You can even use an app to pay for or extend metered parking! If you don’t see details, such as the max time you can park, on a metered parking sign, any restrictions or conditions on the spot will be listed both on the payment machine and in the app. And if you are worried about frantically setting alarms at 2 a.m. to run outside with quarters or extend your times, don’t. Many cities relax parking restrictions on these spots in the evening, allowing you to stay in the spot for free between certain hours. Just be sure to be up and move your car before metered parking takes effect in the morning!

Not sure you’re reading the right parking restrictions? Take a picture of the “zone number” that is listed on the street sign so you can double check the spot rules at your convenience!

No Parking if Snow is Over 2 Inches Deep: 

These signs should be observed seasonally during the posted dates, usually late fall to early spring. They indicate that there is no overnight parking allowed in cases of inclement weather so that the street can be plowed.

Parking on a glorious summer day and not during the snow-pocalypse? If you are parking outside the posted time frame, then this spot functions as a normal parking spot unless otherwise indicated!

No Parking: Street Cleaning:

Like snow signs, street cleaning signs are observed seasonally, often from early spring until late fall, and indicate that there is no overnight parking on certain days so that the street can be cleaned. These can also take the form of temporary paper signs that are put up in spots within a week of scheduled street cleaning, then removed after the cleaning is completed.

In both cases, the signs only need to be observed during the listed time frame, and otherwise these spots function as regular parking spots.

Permit Parking Signs:

These spots are usually in residential areas and are intended to give locals priority so they can park in their neighborhood. The sign will list the type of permit required to park in the space, so pay very close attention to the posted hours and restrictions; parking without the correct permits could lead to a ticket or even a tow!

Are you parking to visit someone? Some cities allow local residents to purchase guest permits for friends and visitors. Check with the locals to see what restrictions, if any, there are in the area, and what you will need to park without putting your car at risk.

Head-in Parking Only:

These are typically posted in parking lots. If you see this sign, it means you have to pull into the spot with your front-bumper first, rather than backing into the spot, so that your back license plate is facing out. Be sure to follow these instructions, as it could result in a ticket or even a tow in some cases.

If street parking isn’t for you, SpotHero is here to help! Download the app or visit to book an off-street parking spot today!