Can Cargo Vans Go on Parkways?

Cargo vans are mainly classified as passenger vehicles and not commercial vehicles, so they can go on all Parkways.  There are instances such as if the cargo van is modified, that it will be classified as a commercial vehicle and so not allowed unless other instances make it exempt.

There are many types of cargo vans from different manufacturers. Some users have customized their vans to suit their unique requirements. Therefore, cargo vans come in various sizes, meaning that cargo vans’ size and weight limit may vary.

Cargo vans can be categorized into three broad groups, including the following.

  • The small cargo vans with payloads of up to 1,480 pounds
  • Medium or regular vans with payloads reaching 3,700 pounds
  • Heavy-duty cargo vans with payloads up to 4,080 pounds

On average, cargo vans have load capacities like pickup trucks and the same towing capacity.


What is A Cargo Van

Typically, a cargo van is designed so the cargo can be accessed from the side door, driver’s position, or rear door.

The easy access of the driver to the cargo section with no wall separating them is often the distinguishing feature from other types of vans. This key feature helps classify them as passenger vehicles instead of commercial vehicles.

However, it can be customized to make it more convenient for small businesses. When customized, it is categorized as a commercial vehicle. Therefore, most states consider a customized cargo van a commercial vehicle.


Cargo Vans on New York’s Parkways

A cargo van may or may not use Parkways in New York. According to New York, Transport authority Commercial vehicles are prohibited from using the parkway systems. The following are Parkways in New York with commercial vehicle restrictions.

  • F.D.R. Drive Manhattan
  • Belt Parkway in Brooklyn and Queens
  • Henry Hudson Parkway
  • Korean War Veterans Parkway in Staten Island
  • Mosholu Parkway
  • Hutchinson River Parkway
  • Bronx River Parkway
  • Pelham Parkway
  • Cross Island Parkway
  • Henry Hudson Parkway
  • Jackie Robinson Parkway
  • Ocean Parkway
  • Grand Central Parkway


Vehicle Classification in New York

The classification of vehicles in New York differs from how other states classify them.

Therefore, a commercial vehicle is not the same as it is known elsewhere.

In most states, a commercial vehicle is classified according to its use. However, in New York, certain types of vehicles are classified as commercial regardless of their use.

Additionally, the New York Transport Authority classifies trucks differently from other commercial vehicles.

A truck is a vehicle:

  • With two axles and having six or more tires
  • A vehicle with three or more axles.

On the other hand, commercial vehicle refers to

  • A vehicle with a commercial plate
  • That has been altered permanently to facilitate transport
  • The owner’s name or business name is indicated on the side of the vehicle

Therefore, if a cargo van has not been customized or altered, it will not qualify as a commercial vehicle and as long as it does not have the owner’s or the company’s name on its side.

Cargo vans owned by FedEx, DHL, U-Haul, and many others are considered commercial vehicles and are not allowed in all the Parkways in New York.

You might get away with using an Econoline Van because it doesn’t have all the graphics and the company’s name. There are police on patrol, and they will immediately come to you if you’re using a cargo van such as U-Haul.

If you’re using such a cargo van or a pickup and want to drive from West Haverstraw, NY to the Bronx, you may have to use 9W to Tappan Zee/Mario Cuomo Bridge then to 87 South.

Similarly, if you’re on a commercial vehicle heading to Maryland from Emont, you may have to take Clearview Expressway to Throgs Neck Bridge then to Cross Bronx using George Washington Bridge to New Jersey. After crossing the river, you’ll take Turnpike to Delaware and finally to Maryland. Note that there are restrictions on commercial vehicles on I-95 


Consequences of Driving a Prohibited Vehicle on Parkways

Driving a commercial vehicle, bus, truck, or any prohibited vehicle on any Parkways may result in:

  • Fines
  • Receiving points on your driver’s license
  • An injury to yourself or others
  • Damaging your vehicle
  • Damaging infrastructure
  • Towing fees that could reach as much as $10,000
  • Meeting the costs of repair of the infrastructure
  • You could also lose wages and or employment

In situations where you find yourself driving on the State parkways accidentally and approaching a low overhead clearance, you are advised to:

  • Stop the vehicle immediately on a shoulder where it’s safe and practical
  • You need to turn on the hazard lights
  • Call 911 for assistance
  • You may also set out hazard warnings if you’re equipped with the device and know how to use it.


Cargo Vans on Connecticut’s Parkways

Cargo vans in Connecticut may or may not be allowed on Parkways. According to the Connecticut Department of Transport, the following vehicles are prohibited from state highways designated as parkways.

  • All vehicles with a height exceeding eight feet
  • All vehicles with a length exceeding 24 feet
  • All vehicles with a width exceeding seven feet and six inches, excluding mirrors
  • All vehicles with advertising, branding, or a logo

In Connecticut, all commercial vehicles are not allowed on parkways, and commercial vehicles refer to:

  • Vehicles with commercial license plate
  • Trucks
  • Any vehicle bearing logos, branding, advertising, etc

Other classes of vehicle prohibited in Connecticut Parkways include:

  • Recreational Vehicles – Both Rental R.V.s and Personal R.V.s
  • Buses – All types of buses, including commercial buses with bus license plates or otherwise
  • Trucks – Including rental trucks (Penske, Budget, U-Haul, etc.), box tractors, and Trailers.
  • Combined license plated vehicle – Generally prohibited, but they can be exempted.
  • Trailers/Towing – These include Car trailers, utility trailers, camper trailers, and two trailers. Generally prohibited, but they can be exempted.
  • School buses – generally prohibited, but they can be exempted.

However, the above classes or other vehicles may be allowed in the Parkways. They include the following.

  • Passenger Vehicles – They can use the parkways as long as they do not exceed the height, length, and width limits. Additionally, they should not have any business branding, logos, or advertising which classify them as commercial vehicles.
  • Trailers/Towing – These vehicle classes may be allowed in the Parkways under certain circumstances. If a vehicle using the parkways is disabled, it can only be towed away by an appropriately registered wrecker vehicle.
  • Combined License plate vehicle – Exemptions are granted if their gross weight is 7500 pounds or less. Additionally, they should not have any logos, branding, or advertising that categorize them as commercial vehicles.
  • School Buses- The types of school buses excepted are two-axle four-wheeled type II registered as a school bus and meet the following criteria:
  • Gross vehicle weight of 1o,000 pounds or less
  • Its owned by the public, private, or religious school
  • It’s used for transporting school children or school activities.
  • They should not exceed the following specifications.
    • Height 8feet 2 inches (98 inches)
    • Width 7 feet 0 inches (84 inches)
    • Length 16 feet 11 inches (203 inches)

All these rules are applicable in Connecticut’s Parkways, including Milford Parkway, Merritt Parkway, and Wilbur Cross Parkway.

According to all these specifications, cargo vans may be exempted in the parkways if they are not branded or bear logos or advertisements; otherwise, they will be prohibited.


Commercial Vehicles Restrictions

Initially, the Parkways were designed for automobiles and not for commercial vehicles.

Additionally, bridges in these areas have shallow clearance as low as 6’11” high. Most commercial vehicles can’t clear them and get stuck, causing accidents and traffic delays.

Commercial drivers are often advised to be vigilant on road signs and not rely solely on G.P.S. units. 


Cargo Vans on National Parkways

National Parkways refers to the roads that connect to protected areas.

The U.S. National Park Service administers these roads, and some of the first parkways were developed between the 1830s and 1860s.

These roads are wider than a city street, and they provide space for tree planting, lawns, walks for pedestrians, pavement for horses and carriages. Later, spaces were added for cars and bicycles.

At the time, the parkways were mainly linkages between the parks within cities. By the 1920s and 1930s, the design fitted into the topography and had landscaped roadside.

They were primarily devoted to serving passenger vehicles and excluding commercial vehicles. However, they also accommodated bicycles, equestrian, and pedestrian trails in some cases.

According to the National Park Service, any commercial vehicle driving on parkways must have a special permit. The Federal Code of Regulations (C.F.R.) defines a commercial vehicle as a vehicle used to transport movable property for a profit or a fee.

 The permit will be denied if you reach your destination using another route.

In most cases, trucks are prohibited on all national parkways, and they include the following:

  • The George Washington Memorial
  • Spout Run Parkway
  • Clara Barton Parkway
  • Crest Lane
  • West Boulevard Drive
  • East Boulevard


1. Cargo Vans on George Washington Memorial Parkway

A cargo van may not be allowed on George Washington Memorial Parkway. Any commercial vehicle operator requires a special permit to drive on George Washington Memorial Parkway.

However, if you can reach your destination using another route, you’ll not be issued a permit. You are required to pay a $50 nonrefundable application fee for the permit. Applicants wishing to have the license must apply at least four business days before the specific use begins. 

Note that there are bridges with low clearance on George Washington Memorial Parkway. You need to check the bridge heights on your route to avoid accidents or damage. 


About George Washington Memorial Parkway

In May 1930, Congress passed a law establishing the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It stretches along the Potomac River and runs through Virginia, Maryland, and Columbia.

The Parkway was intended to protect the landscape and natural shoreline of the Potomac River while offering a scenic view of the Great Falls on the Potomac River and Washington DC.

Additionally, the Parkway connects many historic sites, recreational areas, and memorial sites in the metropolitan area and Washington DC.

The Northern part of the Parkway was constructed in stages beginning in the 1940s and ending in 1962. The section stretches from Arlington Memorial Bridge to I-495.

At the time, the northern portion showcased the latest engineering and state-of-the-art design principles that influenced the country’s development of parkways and highways. It featured low stone-guided walls and imposing steel and concrete bridges. 

As of 1989, a section of George Washington Memorial Parkway that stretches along Maryland’s side of the Potomac River was given a new name as Clara Barton Parkway.


2. Cargo Vans on Colonial Parkway

Cargo vans that meet the definition of a commercial vehicle given by the Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR 5.6) are not allowed on all national Parkways, including the Colonial Parkway.

Commercial vehicles include but are not limited to trucks, pickups, passenger cars, and station wagons, and they are all prohibited on Parkways.

It also includes other vehicles used for business purposes. The colonial parkways is a tour road found at Yorktown Battlefield and Jamestown.

About the Colonial Parkway

The Colonial Parkway is a scenic roadway that stretches 23 miles connecting Virginia’s historic sites. It stretches from York River at Yorktown Battlefield to James River at Jamestown, passing through Williamsburg. Note that Williamsburg is not part of the National park.


3. Cargo Vans on Blue Ridge Parkway

A cargo van may or may not be allowed on Blue Ridge Parkway. The Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) prohibits all commercial vehicles on the national Parkways. However, there are circumstances that a commercial vehicle, including cargo vans, may be exempted.

In a broader sense, commercial vehicles are not allowed in the Parkways, but one may encounter a commercial vehicle in some cases. Commercial vehicles that provide transportation services in the park, like tour buses, taxis, and many others, are exempted.   


About Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway covers 469 miles long.

For the first 355 miles, the Parkway runs through the mountain landscape and wild countryside of Virginia and North Carolina.

The remaining part passes through some of the most rugged regions of the Appalachian Mountains.



4. Cargo Vans on Natchez Trace Parkway

Cargo vans may not be allowed on Natchez Trace parkway. According to the law, the following vehicle types are not permitted on Natchez Trace Parkway:

1. Trucks – Trucks with more than one-ton capacity are prohibited. However, trucks with less than one ton are allowed on Natchez Trace Parkway. Trucks designed to carry passengers, their luggage, camping equipment, and other related items for recreational purposes are permitted on the Parkway. Similarly, trucks used in hauling non-recreational items are not allowed.   

2. Animal Drawn Vehicle – Animal drawn vehicles or any implements are all prohibited on the Parkway

3. Farm Vehicles – All farm vehicles and agricultural tools, even without any load, are not allowed on Natchez Trace Parkway. However, they can be allowed if they have a permit issued by the superintendent or if their travel is related to the maintenance, construction, or operation of the Parkway.

4. Recreational Vehicles (R.V.) – Recreational vehicles such as self-propelled mobile homes, house trailers, and campers are allowed on the Parkway only if

  • They do not exceed one and a half tons rated capacity.
  • When they are used exclusively to carry people and their luggage for recreational purposes
  • Carrying camping equipment and other related items for recreational or vocational goals.

5. Trailers – Trailers are allowed in the Parkway if used for non-commercial transport of camping equipment, baggage, small boats, horse for recreational riding, and any similar equipment used for recreation or vacation purposes. They have to meet the following conditions:

  • The utility-type trailers should be covered or enclosed and must not exceed 5 feet by 8 feet.
  • The trailers must have red stoplights, taillights, and mechanical turn signals. It’s a requirement for any trailer that reaches more than 6 feet high to have clearance lights.
  • Only one camper may be towed by only one vehicle. Both the trailer and the towing vehicle should not be more than 55 feet long.

6. Buses – Buses used for commercial purposes to carry passengers are allowed on the Parkway if they obtain specially written permission to access when used for touring purposes. The permit has to be issued in advance by the superintendent or his representative. However, school buses may be allowed on the Parkway without a permit if transporting persons for educational or special recreational purposes.

7. Towed Vehicles – Both the towing and towed vehicles should not exceed 55 feet long. Such vehicles also need to have a rigid tow bar, such that the towed vehicle will not require a driver. The tow bar must have safety chains so that if the tow bar fails, it will not drop to the ground. Additionally, the chains need to be strong enough that they cannot break if the towbar fails.



Generally, cargo vans are classified as passenger vehicles and can go on all parkways. However, if the van has been modified, it will be categorized as a commercial vehicle and will be prohibited on parkways.

All commercial vehicles are not allowed. Similarly, if it has been branded or has the company owner’s name or a logo, it will not be permitted. Some areas have restrictions on the vehicle’s weight and may not be allowed.

The authorities may also give special permits to some commercial vehicles. Always check and confirm if the type of vehicle you’re driving is allowed.