Posts tagged ‘Parking’

November 23, 2012

A tree grows in the road

A regal tree in the middle of a square, traffic flowing around it? Sure. (See the beauty I found in Bath, England.)

But, on a recent visit to Athens, I found a tree growing straight out of the pavement, guarded by one warning sign so that vehicles had to swerve around it. Motorcycles, cars and buses all bent around it on the narrow, one-way street.

The Lorax would have been pleased to see this tree, so respected in the Athenian suburb of Kifissia. I visited it twice in my four days there.

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Coincidentally, days after my return news from Quebec on a hydro pole in the middle of a highway. Not nearly as poetic, I suppose.

November 17, 2010

Parking signs, parking tickets, pah!

Hours for No Parking & Parking on a Meter

Parking signs drive me crazy. And, admittedly, as they say on Twitter, this is a #firstworldproblem. Still, I’m going to rant for a minute.

I’m a successful graduate of my high school, a college and two universities, and yet I gather with groups of my neighbours to study the parking signs in our neighbourhood, deciding when we should be moving our cars to the other side of the street or whether dinner guests really do have to leave within an hour.

Three signs

No Stopping obscured by parking sign

When I venture out into other neighbourhoods, where I may not find such friendly guidance, I run the risk of tickets, solo. Tonight, on a rainy night, I rushed down to Union Station to pick up my sister. I cooed to her that I had found a place to park, where at this late hour, I didn’t even have to pay the meter. We returned to a ticket – the area is a No Standing zone between 6 p.m. and midnight. That sign was obscured behind the larger sign commanding payment at the meter during the day. The row of us all had tickets. A quick Google search showed others had been hit the same way (and taken better pictures). Another fishing pond for tickets. Life in the big city, no?

A clump of signs

Parking meter under No Standing signs

My area in front of my workplace is particularly bad. There a parking meter sits under a set of signs that, if studied, reveal that, anywhere to the west of the meter, the exact direction in which it faces, it is a No Stopping zone every week day. However you have to read all four signs to learn that. Colleagues have stood there and debated with people as to whether park was allowed there. Close to $400 later, parking ticket in hand, they believe.

It’s rough out there. I found one travel website which gave this precaution about parking in Toronto — I should have listened:

PRECAUTIONS

If you are driving your own vehicle or a rental around Toronto, be very careful where you park. We found the parking signs on the streets to be a bit confusing, so opted to park in garages, which was much more costly.

I have full respect of the law. I just want/need to be able to understand it, if I am going to obey it.

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May 2, 2009

Top Ten Rules of Street Parking, learned by experience

(For link to Toronto parking regulations, see bottom of this post.)

Absolutely, while the wisdom of keeping a car downtown is questionable, on-street parking is one area of social interaction which can be smoothed by congenial neighbours or can be a continual source of aggravation by ones who are not. Street parking is a reflection of how we live together.

  1. If you circle the block looking for a parking spot, one will open up in front of your house as soon as you walk up the pathway to your front door.
  2. Parking switchovers (staying up late or rising early to move the car to the opposite side of the street) occur every two weeks on downtown residential streets for the ostensible purpose of clearing the dust and debris off the street; however, throughout course of the entire spring, summer and fall, you will only see a street sweeper twice. Corollary: Parking switchovers will not occur in the winter even though several feet of snow accumulate on both sides of the street and snow plows pass by more frequently.
  3. Switchover days almost always fall on a week-end, when most local residents are sleeping in.
  4. The day you forget to move your car for the switchover will be the same day your neighbour forgets to warn you.
  5. Leaving room between cars in the summer is anti-social, ensuring fewer cars are able to park on the block; leaving room between cars in the winter is essential, to get enough traction to break out of the snowbanks.
  6. In the winter, your neighbours who do not have a car will feel free take a parking space in front of their house to put their snow.
  7. If your neighbours go on vacation, they will have left the car awkwardly parked to take up two spaces. If they haven’t left their keys with anyone, they will be parked so as to block three spaces.
  8. If a new neighbour moves onto your block, they will have at least one more car than your former neighbour did.
  9. Down-towners can be distinguished from Suburban-ites by their swiftness and skill in parallel parking. Corollary: If there is nothing on TV, spending an evening on the front porch can provide good entertainment value.
  10. Cars are an essential signal to your neighbours, providing vital information such as whether you are home.(I’ve had neighbours come check on me because my car hasn’t moved in long time.) Corollary: If you need help (parking your car, getting a jump, or a push), stand by your car and look forlorn. Good people will come to you.
  • For a more interesting foray, see the Map of the Week from the Toronto Star’s FOI request, looking at parking ticket locations in the city.

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March 5, 2009

Are hospital visitors targeted for parking violations, or are we just negligent roadhogs?

My parents go to the hospital so frequently that the last time I escorted them, they carefully coached me in how to avoid getting a parking ticket. It’s energy well-spent, given the frequency with which parking tickets are handed out around hospitals from York region, to Ottawa, from Newfoundland to Australia.

Whether you are visiting, attending a doctor’s appointment, or rushing there for an emergency, parking tickets are a common part of the hospital experience, along with high parking fees, shortages of spots, and meters which expire in short intervals.

A recent piece in the Toronto Star highlighted how frequently hospitals visitors are stung by the green hornets here in Toronto. The streets around hospital made up half of the top ten sites for parking tickets in 2007. The Ottawa Citizen found similar patterns in their examination of the issue in 2007. The Vancouver Sun also found the same, to a lesser degree.

It’s the sort of thing that drives people crazy, filling Bulletin Boards and other blogs (see here for a hilarious list of the ten worst parking tickets ever issued).

Some places in the world are trying to find a solution. Scotland now offers free parking at most of its hospitals, and Wales is considering the same, while recognizing the complexity of such an endeavor, and wondering how to discourage “freeloaders” without setting up another expensive bureaucratic layer.

Some argue, perhaps fairly, that if you own a car, you need to take responsibility for it. Residents who live near hospitals have to put up with slackers on a daily basis. It must grow tiresome.

However, hospitals are one of the likeliest places in the city where some administrative discretion should be used. People attending hospitals are often ill, or escorting those who are, and they have little control over the sorts of delays they may face once inside.

I have my bias in answer to the question: I remember a sweet and random act of parking kindness  I received at my local hospital once, when I raced, daughter in my arms, son at my side, into the emergency room. When we left, all safe a few hours later, I realized that I had parked by the entrance and not even noticed the meter by my car. But there sat my car ticket-less.

Someone had put some money into the meter.

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