Easy ways for drivers to avoid citations, boots, and other parking pitfalls
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Contrary to public opinion, the goal of nearly every municipal parking authority is not to see how many tickets their officers can write. The goal is to provide parking availability through space turnover, and to create safety for pedestrians and drivers. Unfortunately parking tickets are needed to ensure this happens. The International Parking Institute, the largest trade association of the parking industry, offers this advice to avoid parking citations:
1. Pay the Meter. This one is simple: just pay. Don't think you can flip on the flashers to avoid a ticket because you are only going to be gone for one minute. In the eyes of a parking enforcement officer, flashers translate to "Ticket me!"
2. Pay by Phone. Many municipalities offer meters or pay stations that allow you to pay by credit card, with a smart phone, or with rechargeable parking smartcards. Go online or download the mobile app of the pay-by-phone provider in your area and create an account. Most pay-by-phone apps will even send a text reminder when your meter is about to expire.
3. Stash Quarters. Though many cities are adopting high-tech ways to make finding and paying for parking easier, keeping a roll of quarters in your glove compartment is a good idea.
4. Garage It. Parking garages are designed for long-term parking while meters and on-street spaces are designed for short-term parking. If you are staying longer than several hours, parking in a garage is less expensive than getting a ticket.
5. Use Public Transportation. Walking, taking the bus, or train is an easy way to avoid tickets. People tend to complain about gasoline prices and parking availability, yet 88 percent of all trips in the U.S. are made in a car. Using mass transit is good for the planet, too.
6. Look around. Before leaving your vehicle, check for No Parking signs. Also, be sure you are not blocking a fire hydrant, illegally occupying a handicapped spot, or parked on a pedestrian cross-walk.
7. Appeal. Most municipal parking authorities have a process that allows citizens to appeal parking tickets. The likelihood of winning your appeal is low, but ticket writers make mistakes and first-time parking tickets are sometimes voided.
8. Reform. If you are a habitual violator, take measures to reform. As a last resort, check whether your city plans a parking ticket amnesty program which allows citizens with multiple citations to come clean by paying off their tickets at a discount, or with late fees removed.
Free parking and no tickets sounds appealing, but as Isaiah Mouw, CAPP, a contributor to the Parking Matters® Blog, explains: "Ticketing isn't designed to be punitive. It's about fairness and turnover. Successful downtowns depend on available parking to allow customers to patronize shops and restaurants and get where they want to go."
If it's any consolation, revenues generated by parking ticket fines usually get re-invested in community maintenance, beautification and safety programs.
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The International Parking Institute (IPI) is based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. www.parking.org. Each year, thousands of parking professionals attend the world's largest parking event, the IPI Conference & Expo, this year in Phoenix, Ariz. June 10-13, 2012.
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