Why Tout “Parking Wars” and “Sustainability”


Why Tout “Parking Wars” and “Sustainability”

This writer in a Canadian publication is hot and bothered because a couple of cities in British Columbia are considering not allowing vehicles that have unpaid parking tickets to be licensed when its time for renewal. His argument:

It’s killing an ant with a baseball bat. Threatening to remove someone’s driving privileges for a parking misdemeanor, perhaps because someone spent longer than they expected in a lineup or at an appointment, is taking it too far. Of course, folks do have the chance to avoid this, by paying their tickets off before they get to that point but there is an issue of principle at stake here.

Besides the fact that Canada prides itself for being a society where individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty, we also prescribe to a common ideal that the punishment should fit the crime.While taking one’s right to drive is fitting for a real crime, such as dangerous driving or driving while impaired, it seems extreme for allowing a parking meter to expire.

Keep in mind, that is what the majority of parking violations we’re talking about involve.

As Correspondent Mark  notes:

Does it seem like an over reaction to suspend someone’s driving privileges because they didn’t pay a $25 ticket for staying an extra 10 minutes at a meter?  Yes, but it doesn’t seem any more heavy handed than doing the same thing because someone was going a couple miles over the speed limit, or didn’t come to a complete/dead stop at a stop sign in an intersection with no traffic, or someone who forgot to use their turn signal when changing lanes, etc, etc.  What they are not understanding is that the original infraction (overstaying a meter) is not the reason for the severity of the punishment, it’s the failure to respond to the citation.  The original infraction may have been the result of circumstances over which the  driver had absolutely no control, but the subsequent action of failing to deal with the ticket that was issued is one for which the driver must assume 100% of the responsibility.

Parking is just as much a part of driving as is the actual act of piloting a car on a highway.  With a parking violation all you have to do is deal with the ticket by either paying the fine or going to court and challenging it.  Do that and the risk of losing your driving privileges disappears, it’s that simple.

Yep. Consider this – if there are no consequences for not paying a ticket then why pay at all. In LA, it was discovered that the courts had ruled that the city could not enforce the running of a red light if the person was caught by a red light camera through the courts. Hmmm so what happened.  Half the people paid, half didn’t. The ones that paid felt stupid. The city stopped the program.

If there are no consequences, then why do it?  Our Canuck buddy loses all perspective.  Mark has it nailed.  The writer, however, does have a point.

“There’s no question in my mind we need a more user-friendly parking system,” McGuffie said. That wouldn’t help for street parking, though. A way to improve that is to have drivers pay by license plate.

“That’s the fairest system for consumers,” said Tim Davidson, city of Nanaimo bylaw services supervisor. “If you parked on Commercial Street, then if you move over to the courthouse (the city) can make it a zone where you can travel around within the zone.”

Combine that with Victoria’s system that allows drivers to buy time in bulk and use only the amount of time you need and you can create a much fairer system for drivers, not just cashhungry municipalities. What is needed is better accountability for the money we all pour into parking meters, not tougher rules.

I don’t pretend to understand the “plan” they have suggested, but the concept of letting people know where the money is going (maybe back into the neighborhoods from whence it came), and perhaps more convenient ways to pay, would help solve the problem. Maybe instead of touting “Parking Wars” and “sustainability” we should be talking about why parking rules are important, how parking regulations affect life in a city, and where the money goes.

But then, what do I know?


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John Van Horn

One Response

  1. One salient point that people conveniently tend to forget is that while booting policies vary across municipalities, there is a 99% chance that if your vehicle is on the boot list, it isn’t just for 1 unpaid expired meter ticket. There may be exceptions, but generally if your car is booted, you’ve demonstrated a history of many parking tickets that you haven’t taken care of.

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