Parking Makes the World a Better Place


Parking Makes the World a Better Place

 Every month of the year has its theme. January is for making resolutions, February is for romance … In November, between bites of mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, we consider what we are grateful for – even if it’s just the pumpkin pie to come later. 
December’s theme is a complicated mixture of goodwill, generosity and greed. I’m going to go with goodwill, despite my incurable cynicism, because despite the mad rush to buy everything in sight, it is a season when I find it easier to see the best in humankind. 
That said, I think it’s a good time to look at parking in the same light. I’ve done parking headlines before, and they’re usually a mix of the good, bad, ugly and stupid. This column is dedicated to the ways that parking creates good news.
Free ‘Park Once’ Shuttle Aims to Help Driving and Parking Downtown
( St. Petersburg, FL: Between 5 p.m. and midnight, residents and visitors can park in a city lot and catch a shuttle to their desired destination. The shuttles have air-conditioning and bike racks, and are wheelchair-accessible. They are meant to help visitors feel more welcome and decrease walking distance for those who use public parking. I don’t think it would kill people to walk a few extra blocks, but isn’t it great when a city does all it can to make its parking programs work?
Sculptor Turns Parking Meters Into Solar-Powered WiFi-Enabled Art
( New York: New York City parking meters were phased out years ago, but they weren’t all dismantled. A Queens-area artist saw them as a blank canvas and pushed tiny dioramas into their glass housings. Parking meters as an art form – is there anything parking can’t do?
Reserved Parking Signs Are a Well-Deserved Salute to Wounded Vets
( Omaha: A nonprofit called Wounded Warriors Family Support, based in Omaha, creates and distributes free signs that can be used to reserve parking for combat-wounded veterans. More than 2,000 of these signs have been given out. Not official or legally enforceable, they rely on goodwill. I have some experience with how our veterans are treated (six close family members have served in the military); I have seen the best, and the worst. This is some of the best.
Solution That ‘Sticks’: Group Works to Solve Parking Confusion
( Milwaukee: The Downtown Neighborhood Association decided to clear up things for their metered-parking clients. Parking is free on weekends, but the sign had read, “2 Hour Parking Saturday.” Group members added stickers to the signs so that they now read “2 Hour Parking Free Saturday.” It’s amazing what a sticker can do – especially one that says “free.” It would be easy for the powers that be to assume parkers should just understand signage. It’s embarrassing that I can’t write the word “assume” without thinking of an overused saying about what that makes of you and me, but that sums it up.
Police Arrest Naked Man Running Through Hotel Parking Lot
( Arlington, VA: You’re wondering why this headline landed in my column about how parking makes the world go round. First, it was an entertaining visual. And second, because I thought about how this man, reportedly caught in the powerful and erratic grip of illegal drugs, really needed a place to get it out of his system. He didn’t need to run naked through a school or sporting event or church, because he had an alternative. There was a wide open parking lot available to him and a lot of people were spared his nakedness because of that. He was charged with indecent exposure.
Mayor, City Council to Weigh Proposals to Cut Parking Fines
( Los Angeles: Mayor Eric Garcetti is taking suggestions from a group examining LA parking and how a large city budget surplus might justify a decrease in parking fines. They probably won’t lower the fines, but it’s nice that they would consider it. 
Ancient Greek Fortress Found Under Middle East Parking Lot
( Jerusalem: Excavation for a parking lot has led to the resolution of one of the city’s greatest archaeological mysteries. And if that’s not changing the world for good, I don’t know what is. Workers unearthed the remnants of Acra, a fortress built more than 2,000 years ago during the reign of Greek King Antiochus IV. 
Stranger Pays for Driver’s Parking Ticket
( Seattle: After running some errands, a motorist returned to his car to find a ticket on his windshield, as well as a note and enough cash to pay the fine. A passerby wrote that she had had a good day and wanted to do something kind. She asked the parker to pay her back by doing a good deed of his own.
An industry as large and influential as parking is going to create huge amounts of news. If the media coverage follows known statistical patterns, most headlines are going to be bad. But we all know the truth: Parking makes the world a better place. Merry Christmas, everyone.
(Editor’s Note: Melissa’s search for these jewels was made easier as many were noted on
Melissa Bean Sterzick is Parking Today’s proofreader, occasional writer and amateur parker. She can be reached at
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