Only in the Big Apple A Baghdad by the Bay nominee


Only in the Big Apple A Baghdad by the Bay nominee

The wizards in the New York City city council have passed a new law that gives five minutes grace to parking meters. I know, I know…

Let me attempt to parse this for you. If you buy 60 minutes on a parking meter, you get 65. Fair enough, I guess. So if the enforcement officer sees a meter that has expired what is he/she to do? The only thing they can possibly do is assume the meter expired a nano second before they glanced at it and then wait five minutes before writing the ticket. Of course when the driver came up, wouldn’t they say that the officer had been “pushing” the time and then it only ran out a few seconds before.

As correspondent Mark put it so well:

Has anyone ever heard of somebody getting a ticket for anything other than being “two minutes over the time limit”?  It ought to be interesting to see how they’re going to enforce this one.  The only way I can see to make it work is to program the meters to give 5 minutes grace on the front end, otherwise who’s to say when the 5 minute grace period began or ended?

This is close to the most boneheaded idea that politicians have come up with yet. It can’t be enforced. It will only add to the already mass confusion in the city streets of the Big Apple. And when the locals in New York find out that it makes no difference in the number of citations that are being written, they will double their calls to their local councilfolks.

The City council president:

“Just don’t issue these tickets so quickly,” he said. “It is not wrong to have a heart and not get people at the exact moment.”

Mayor Bloomberg’s comment:

“Whose watch are you going to use?” he asked. “I think something that is explicit, so there are no arguments, is in everyone’s interest.”

Another nominee for the coveted “Baghdad by the Bay” award, given periodically to those cities that just can’t get their parking act together. Another law that will make no difference, cause chaos, and not be enforced.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

5 Responses

  1. Not knowing what meters they are using, the electronic meters can be set to show time past ‘no time’. I had them 5 years ago but removed that option as people ‘in a rush’ would park thinking it was 5 mins (or whatever) on the meter….even though it was red & had a negitive number. That was small town Texas, not New York though.

  2. Meters can be set to wait an extra amount of programmed time after it reaches 00:00 before the red flag appears. Then you just enforce the red flags as always. If someone wants to stand there with a stopwatch to challenge it, no problem.

  3. Regardless of the capabilities of the equipment, the issue that will remain is the perception by just about everybody that has ever gotten a ticket that the issuer of that ticket “pounced” at the precise moment that the time expired. If you give someone a 5 minute grace period then they will assume that the extra time is theirs, after 6 minutes they’re still going to complain that they were only 1 minute over the limit.
    This is one of those “feel good” pieces of legislation that is nothing more than a knee jerk reaction to give the appearance that they did something for the public they serve. It’s going to solve nothing, and the end result will be even more things for them to argue about.

  4. A five minute “grace period” is common with Pay-and-Display in the UK. As for whose watch gets used, the Pay-and-Display machine shows the time, so that’s what gets used. As rta points out, though, if people know about the grace period, they’re just going to use it and feel aggrieved at being charged one minute over the grace period.
    Some people, though, are going to feel that way however much leniency you show: I once booked a car 12 minutes overstayed on a 15 minute ticket, and the driver returned to complain that she “had just gone to get change”.

  5. Oh, and Mark’s comment: Has anyone ever heard of somebody getting a ticket for anything other than being “two minutes over the time limit”?
    Most of the tickets I issue have a five minute observation time on them. The tickets are issued by computer, and it forces this observation time on me, I cannot override it. Still, I frequently get people telling me that the car I have just observed for five minutes, then spent an extra minute issuing a ticket to, has only been there for “two minutes”. This is primarily an issue of perception on the drivers’ parts, rather than an actual matter of fact.

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