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Free Parking Has Enemies

There are a lot of opinions out there and most of them are junk. I’m willing to include some of mine in the junk pile, but will continue to share the ones I’m really attached to. I read this one and liked the way it sounded. The timesunion.com ran an opinion piece by a Saratoga Springs resident who’s furious at the way city leaders are planning to use the last of its undeveloped downtown property for a parking structure.

Mr. Ian Klepetar says the city’s “free parking” program has created a dependence on the car and a lack of public transit. He urges the city to promote healthier transportation models and a more honest approach to parking.

Shame on Saratoga Springs for trying to confront this “parking problem” with the kind of “solutions” that created it in the first place. Shame on our downtown business sector for supporting and funding this precedent and shame on us, again, for believing that parking was ever “free” in the first place.

The writer feels strongly about, and writes convincingly about, the need for low-emission transportation choices and the reality of the true cost of parking – two subjects of great importance to the parking industry. Worth reading, in my opinion.

For the entire article, click here.

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Trick or Ticket

It’s Halloween and there’s no pretending this is an ordinary day. Children across the country are out of their minds with joy, and their parents preparing for the inevitable dental bills.

Still, parking is the topic, and there’s some tricky business going on down in New Zealand where researchers are asking people about their approach to parking fender benders. A study conducted by AA Insurance and reported on by stuff.co.nz shows that while it’s a known fact most fender bumpers don’t leave a note at the scene of the crime, most individuals lie and say they would.

”While the reality is that most people don’t leave a note, only one person in five was prepared to admit that they would not,” Amelia Macandrew, customer relations manager at AA Insurance said.

“There seems to be a huge disconnect between what people say they’ll do and what they actually do.

We’ve all been there. You accidentally bump another car on your way into or out of a parking spot and your first thought is to look around and see if anybody noticed. Your second thought is to get out of your car and check your own bumper. Finally, you survey the victim’s car for damages. Here’s where the disappearing act comes in.

If I damaged someone’s car, I’d be sure to leave a note. The note might say “Ooops, sorry, I dinged your door,” but an apology is good for something, right?

For the rest of the article, click here.

 

 

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Parking Garage Goes Haywire

In Princeton, New Jersey, residents and city leaders are moaning, groaning and griping about a parking garage that has been a complete failure. The entire garage has malfunctioned, says the headline on nj.com.That sounds pretty serious.

“There can’t be 20 days in the history of that garage that every piece of that equipment has worked,” departing administrator Bob Bruschi said. “It’s been a nightmare since the beginning. It’s been a constant fight between the software and equipment vendors.”

Princeton has a lemon of a parking garage on its hands. Those in charge have offered three possible solutions for the garage: implement a post-pay system; take out the gates and put in meters; or, install and man a booth at the entrance/exit.

City council members are still considering their options, although, it seems, anything would be better than the system in place now.

Read the entire article here.

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Two Reasons the NPA Show was “buzzing”

There seems to be no question that the NPA Convention and Trade event last week was a grand success. Numbers were up, exhibitors were smiling, and there was an ‘energy’ on the trade show floor.

“This is the best NPA Show ever” commented one wag.  “Its exciting, its bubbling, there is business going on.” OK, I felt it too. But why?

I won’t take away from Christine Banning and her NPA crew.  They did a fantastic job tweaking the event and making adjustments to help both exhibitors and attendees alike. They are to be commended.  But there was something else. Something I didn’t feel at the NPA in Chicago last year or at the IPI in Dallas in May.

There was excitement. There was vigor. People were engaged.

In addition to Christine’s magic, there were two driving forces at the NPA this year.

First, the parking business, that is the business of selling ‘stuff’ to parking owners and operators is booming. When I walked the floor last year and asked how business was going, I got a shrug or a “meh”.  “Its ok”  Its Fine.  This year I got . “Super.”  “Fantastic.”  “Best in years.”

The feeling is that parking is back.  We see it in our business. Vendors are investing in their companies because they are selling. That means the folks in the booths at the NPA weren’t just going through the paces. They were excited. They were making deals.

The Second reason is demographic. As I looked around the floor I saw a new generation staffing the exhibits. As I looked at the people in the booth next to us I noted to a colleague that the women seemed like they were 14 years old. She told them what I said and they laughed and said they were 24.

The influx of software and web based companies has brought an influx of youth. I would guess that at least a third and maybe more of the people in the exhibits were under 35. And many under 30. Youth brings energy, and energy brings excitement, and excitement brings sales.

As you walked around the hall, you saw these young entrepreneurs and their staffs literally bouncing on the balls of their feet.  Their enthusiasm was contagious.   More than once I had to tell someone to ‘slow down a bit’ so I could keep up.

Our industry is giving birth to a new generation, not only on the street but also in the board room. The baton hasn’t been passed, its been snatched out of our hands.

I’ll comment later on whether this is a good or a bad thing, but there is no question that it exists. You could feel it at the NPA Show. Do you know that there was a party that STARTED at 10 PM?

JVH

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Parking and the New Hampshire Supreme Court

In New Hampshire, Keene residents have formed a group they call Robin Hood of Keene, which roams the town feeding parking meters to save other residents from parking tickets. The group also carries out protests in close vicinity to parking enforcement officers and posts its activities on Youtube, sometimes including video footage of those enforcement officers. According to thenewspaper.com, city officials have taken the matter to the state’s supreme court, where they were not supported in the least.

“Does the behavior here violate any municipal ordinance or state law, in your view?” Justice James P. Bassett asked.

City leaders want the protesters to stay 50 feet or more away from parking officers, but the court responded negatively, saying protests of all kinds are usually carried out near city employees – namely police officers – and that restricting those protests is not legal.

“The peace of mind of PEOs, parking enforcement officers, is not a compelling interest,” Jon Meyer, lawyer for the Robin Hooders, said. “It does not justify restrictions on First Amendment rights.”

No doubt, some other approach can be taken to protect the feelings of the “meter maids,” as the article calls them, but, someday, the members of the Robin Hooders will be compelled to give up their cause without the passing of any new laws: they won’t have time to follow meter maids around town dropping coins into meters where they aren’t parked when they run out of money and are forced to find a paid occupation.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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NPA Las Vegas 2014 – They hit the Jackpot

Wow!  Christine Banning and her team have done it again. The NPA Convention this week at Caesars in Las Vegas is a thundering success. Over 1100 parking pros on site and 120 exhibitors.  The NPA has hit the jackpot here in sin city.

Incoming board chair Mark Muglich addressed the opening luncheon and welcomed the assembled throngs. Various seminars and training session filled the four days during times when the exhibition hall was not open.

JVH

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Clarification, HUB and Advanced Access Controls

In October’s Issue of Parking Technology Today, we printed a news release that said that Advanced Access Controls in Southern California had become a part of the HUB network of companies. I am told by someone who should know at HUB  that they have NOT purchased Advanced but are working closely with them.

JVH

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Does anybody like parallel parking?

A survey conducted for a group called Easytrip in Ireland has revealed that 45 percent of Irish drivers will pass up a parking spot if it requires them to parallel park. Breakingnews.ie reports the statistic, that isn’t so much surprising as it is pathetic. Parallel parking seems like a skill that symbolizes competence and maturity, like being able to tie your shoes or bake a cake.

The article further reports that:

74% of us prefer reversing or driving forward into a perpendicular parking space over parking beside a kerb.

Of course, it’s natural to prefer the easier parking method over the more challenging option, so this statistic is easier to accept. My argument is that parallel parking has more than a few advantages to perpendicular. First, you don’t have anybody parked next to you dinging your doors. As long as it can be done without denting your bumpers, you spare yourself some body damage. Second, it’s easier to get in and out of your car with all that room on the sides. And, third, being a proficient parallel parker gives you a wonderful, though superficial, sense of accomplishment that can be hard to come by.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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Parking Meters Not a Good Fit in Every Town

So much of parking news is about new policies, new meters, new applications and the forward motion of the industry. So, I was intrigued by a headline I just read on parknews.biz:

Carmichaels to remove parking meters

Who takes out their parking meters? Who puts them in, decides they are not working, and has them removed? Charmichaels, Pennsylvania, according to The Observer-Reporter, is getting rid of its parking meters. It seems that since their installation, the meters have been ignored, and vandalized, and are now considered a safety hazard.

The borough (Charmichaels) has not issued tickets for meter violations for several years, police Chief Mike Gyurke said. The last time the borough collected money from the meters it took in only about $15. Most people in the community know the borough doesn’t enforce for meter violations, and so they don’t bother putting money in the meters when they park, councilwoman Marianne Gideon said.

So the city installs parking meters, doesn’t enforce them and people get completely used to not paying for parking, even though the meters are right there. Soon, even law enforcement and city officials give up on the meters. Then, the meters become so obsolete and unimportant that they are actually stolen from the sidewalk – cut off right at the base.

I’m glad Charmichaels has decided to remove it’s meters – I can only wonder why they installed them in the first place.

Read the article here.

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Parking Structure Attacks Lead to Increased Security

Thinking about the worst is the worst, but somebody’s got to do it. After two attacks on women at a downtown Minneapolis parking structure, local officials have increased police patrols and undercover presence in parking areas.

According to myfoxtwincities.com, the attacker approached one woman and asked for money and then tried to force her down between two cars. He was scared off when another parking structure customer exited a nearby elevator. Not 3 hours later, the same individual pushed a second woman into her car and attempted to sexually assault her. She fought him and screamed loudly enough to attract attention, and the assailant ran away.

The suspect fled the area and was chased by several bystanders who lost track of him near Pizza Luce. Police believe the same suspect was involved in both cases.

It’s an awful story that could have been much worse. It’s reassuring to read that bystander involvement was a factor – people are not standing around, but acting to help someone in distress. It’s also a positive that Minneapolis police leadership have recognized the need to secure the area where the attacks occurred.

We all like to walk around this world like we are safe, but sometimes we are not safe, and it’s up to us, to parking providers and enforcement officers to recognize danger and address that danger with an appropriate response.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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