The Parking Problem

The Parking Problem

There’re a number of cities in the U.S. which have poor provisions for parking your car. This one factor can make the difference between it being a desirable place to go, and being one to avoid! New Orleans rates poorly here. As does Philadelphia. But the worst I’ve yet encountered, is New York City. The parking situation in NYC is out of control. It’s contemptible; it’s so BAD that it should be considered criminal.

When you try your best to park legally, and considerately, and yet still find tickets affixed to your car window on a regular basis, there is something wrong.

When a city steals your car, despite being legally parked, and demands thousands of dollars to get it back — this is equivalent to auto theft. At this level the parking becomes so enormously expensive, that the city government actually competes with car thieves in how oppressive a factor it represents in the lives of ordinary citizens.

Parking can be a huge problem. You can’t visit, you can’t go to work, and you can’t even go home — if you have to drive and you cannot park your car. It does not need to be this bad, as it is in NYC. Here are some suggestions — a list of steps to solve this problem..

1.No more fire-hydrant restrictions. The fire company ought to know where their dam hydrants are. All space is valuable, and we need THIS space.

2.The street-cleaning restriction needs to relax. Just once a week, instead of twice a week. And if possible – it should happen after-hours, or at least some streets be after-hours or on weekends. In the neighborhood I happen to live in, my street has twice-a-week cleaning, and the next street over has none. I do not see any difference in their cleanliness. None! I suspect this is an annoyance that is completely unnecessary.

3.There should be no limit regarding how close you park to the corner intersection. Why complicate this? Just let people abut the very corner itself. That makes it simple to park, simple to enforce, and yields more parking spaces.

4.If you do get towed, you should have exactly ONE place to go to take care of it. Not three or four as in NYC. The NYC system is especially ridiculous since the locations are not even close to one another. You’ve suddenly found yourself on foot — how’re you going to get around?!

5.Tow authorities must be open 24/7, or at least have weekend hours.

6.There are way too many no-parking areas. Eliminate all except only the most absolutely essential places. And what the heck does "No Standing" mean?

7.Provide heavily discounted (or free) parking for mopeds, motorcycles and small cars (especially those of a size like the SmartCar),SmartCar to encourage these. Also reduce or eliminate the registration fees for them, the toll fees, and the auto insurance. Citizens should be ‘taxed’ according to the cost of their activity upon society: a bicycle costs the city nothing. Zip. So it should be a legal requirement that every place of business provide for safe, free bicycle parking. A SmartCar that takes 1/2 or 1/3 the parking space of a full-size car, should be heavily discounted in cost, or made free. Motorcycles, likewise, should be allowed free or heavily-reduced parking.

8.Be sensible with the required documents to pick up your towed vechicle. Do not require auto-insurance for picking up your car after it’s towed. That’s a driving requirement, not a retrieve-my-property requirement. The only actual need should be for a positive id (a driver’s license should suffice – you already had to jump through id-probative hoops to get that!). They should already know whether you own your car – it’s a matter of public record.

9.For an advanced-technology solution, I envision a system that simplifies parking substantially by using an integrated wireless control, GPS, and smart GIS. For example, when you park in a pay-to-park location, it should indicate on-screen A. Can you park here. B. The hourly rate, and when must you come get it out of this spot. C. Automatically charge your account. D. If you can’t park here, where exactly is the nearest available spot? E. Are there nearby spots that are less expensive?

This system would take into account the size/type of vehicle you have, and show an obvious green light to indicate your account is good. Let’s say, for example, these are all mounted in a standard location on the windshield, directly behind the rear-view mirror. This way, a parking enforcement officer can simply drive past, and as long as it sees only green lights, those cars cannot be touched. Saves time on both sides, saves frustration, makes the whole process simpler and more cost-effective. This ought to be a great opportunity for an enterprising entrepreneur.

By notifying the driver of other, cheaper places to park – you are in effect using the free-market system to encourage parking efficiently. For example, say parking right on the corner does hamper visibility to other drivers. But not terribly much. You don’t want to necessarily prohibit parking there, just mildly discourage it when other parking is available. You don’t want to take that spot out of the equation. So, you simply post a higher parking rate there, relative to the surrounding area. This higher rate may apply only to cars, not to motorcycles or mopeds that don’t block your view. Or it may apply only to vans and SUVs and not cars. The essential point being, you apply gentle economic pressure to encourage the most efficient parking behavior possible.

10.Ultimately, of course, the population level of any given city just needs to be limited to some sensible level. You can make it more efficient using the above-mentioned steps, but if the population grows to overwhelm your improvements, what has it gotten you? If you improvement your parking system to accommodate 50 percent more cars, but your car-driving population grows by 50 percent, you gain nothing. Ultimately, a city needs to recognize that there are limits to how dense a population can go to.


james w. hurst


~ by JamesHurst on 2010/09/27.

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