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The Joy and Glory of the Climb

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Strangely, this quote from Churchill was not from a speech made to stir the British public on to victory against overwhelming odds, it was from a book he wrote in 1921, “Painting as a Pastime.” The great leader picked up a brush for the first time when he was 40, and found in the hobby a solace needed to help him through difficult times, whether it was the loss of his daughter, Marigold, or the horrendous terror of the blitz.

He reminds us that life isn’t a destination, but a journey. So many see life as a trip to retirement, golf, cards, and sun. I’m saddened by that. It means that your selected path isn’t one of enjoyment, but of toil.

If we enjoy the journey, we need not concern ourselves with its end. The last words you want to say should never be “I wish I had.”  Winnie understood that although you will never reach the metaphorical end of your life’s work, the goal is to enjoy the joy and glory of the climb.

Thanks to Astrid for putting this quote up on Parknews.biz. It’s a great way to start a week.


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The Masque – Part Deux             

Astrid reports over at Parknews.biz that the Dutch have determined that wearing a mask is of no particular value and are not recommending it except in some extreme situations. Read all about it here.

Being a contrarian I am not a great fan of masks. I do wear one, however, as a courtesy to others when going into stores, entering restaurants, on busy sidewalks, and between my car and my office. I also wear them to go to the restroom here at work.

I also following the guidance of the State of California as follows:

The order includes several exceptions, including for outdoor recreation and exercise such as walking, hiking, running or bicycling. But if people are doing such activities and cannot stay 6 feet apart from others, the state says they should wear masks.

When I walk Suki at 5 AM and 4 PM I don’t wear a mask. (See guidance about walking above).  Suki ensures that I’m more than six feet away from others, particularly UPS and Fedex drivers.

Frankly I find masks uncomfortable. I have difficulty breathing when wearing them. They are hot, and after taking them off I usually have some soreness in my nasal passages for up to half an hour. I also know that it’s true that wearing masks is to protect others from me, not vice versa.

I have another reason I don’t think we should wear masks. When we are so covered, we cannot see the facial expressions of other people. Nor can they see ours. I know smiles that light up a room, but not any more. I know frowns that telegraph entire paragraphs. Now, not so much. In other words, it is hard to properly communicate with people who are wearing masks. Plus if, like me, you are mostly deaf, its virtually impossible to hear what other people wearing masks are saying.

The state of CA recommends masks in parking garages. Now, when was the last time you were within six feet of someone in a parking garage?   Just sayin.

It seems to me that if we were really serious about this mask business, we would have people who could be really harmed by Covid 19 – the elderly, infirm, sick,  – wear masks like surgical masks that actually protected them from the disease . Others who were afraid could do the same. Then let the rest of us go about our business, maskless.  Sure wash your hands often, sneeze into your elbow, keep a distance, stay home if your are sick, and lets get back to life.

I’m sure our betters have other ideas and will continue to destroy what few pleasures we have left.



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Perfect for Us, But Not for Them

I have been perusing a piece on Streetsblog over on Parknews.biz about the need to ‘fix’ New York City’s transportation problems now while the pandemic has basically destroyed it. It seems the city is being inundated with cars since no one will ride the subways (ridership down 97%). Now is the time to strike, the article says. You can read all about it on Parknews.biz.

A local Big Apple think tank has all kinds of recommendations most having to do with removing cars from the streets. Increase bus lanes by removing on street parking, widen sidewalks, turn many streets in to ‘walk only’ pathways, and of course increase bike lanes. Go for it, Manhattan.

The article looks to Paris and London as examples of cities that have closed streets, increased bike use, and removed the horror of the privately owned vehicle. The problem New York seems to have is that people aren’t riding on the subways, the buses are not a prime mover, and though bicycles are popular with the younger set, they don’t solve every problem. What to do, what to do?

I am more familiar with London than either New York or Paris. You ride the underground in London, and if you don’t, it has an excellent bus system or taxis/Uber/Lyft. And as in New York, many people walk. In densely populated central cities like these three, turning streets into walkways is workable. This means, of course, that people stay in their neighborhoods, with all they need for their lives are right there – grocery stores, shops, restaurants, clubs. It makes sense. If 100,000 people live within walking distance, then merchants can thrive with those who use shoe leather for transportation.

However for those poor souls who prefer to live in the suburbs, and commute into the city to work and play, it’s a different world. I understand that urban planners would prefer that people not live in the ‘burbs but live in 900 square foot apartments cheek by jowl in the city and walk to work, shop, and play, but these planners live in a fantasy world. The article I quoted actually mentioned that autonomous vehicles were ‘right around the corner.’ What alternate universe to they live in?

Doing away with cars might work in such cramped, dense, cities, but in those where life is spread out and people have a taste for the wide open spaces, not so much.

These planned communities mean that people who have money can do as they will, live in large high rises and have country homes and chauffer driven vehicles, while those of us with lessor incomes are stuck walking and living in hot, congested cities. I would like to know where the members of the “Transportation think tanks” referred to in the article live, work and play. It would be interesting to find out, wouldn’t it?

Our betters always have a plan for the rest of us, but not for them.

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This Looks Good

I was out taking a cover shot for my favorite magazine and parked in the garage below in Pasadena.

I was stunned as I hadn’t seen a garage this full, well in it seems like ever. This is good news. Traffic is picking up. This is a primarily retail garage and even with California’s draconian Covid Crackdowns, people are coming downtown and parking.



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We are Veterans

From Correspondent Joe:

We left home as teenagers or in our early twenties for an unknown adventure.

We loved our country enough to defend it and protect it with our own lives.

We said goodbye to friends and family and everything we knew.

We learned the basics and then we scattered in the wind to the far corners of the Earth.

We found new friends and new family.

We became brothers and sisters regardless of color, race or creed.

We had plenty of good times, and plenty of bad times.

We didn’t get enough sleep.

We smoked and drank too much.

We picked up both good and bad habits.

We worked hard and played harder.

We didn’t earn a great wage.

We experienced the happiness of mail call and the sadness of missing important events.

We didn’t know when, or even if, we were ever going to see home again.

We grew up fast, and yet somehow, we never grew up at all.

We fought for our freedom, as well as the freedom of others.

Some of us saw actual combat, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us saw the world, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us dealt with physical warfare, most of us dealt with psychological warfare.

We have seen and experienced and dealt with things that we can’t fully describe or explain, as not all of our sacrifices were physical.

We participated in time honored ceremonies and rituals with each other, strengthening our bonds and camaraderie.

We counted on each other to get our job done and sometimes to survive it at all.

We have dealt with victory and tragedy.

We have celebrated and mourned.

We lost a few along the way.

When our adventure was over, some of us went back home, some of us started somewhere new and some of us never came home at all.

We have told amazing and hilarious stories of our exploits and adventures.

We share an unspoken bond with each other, that most people don’t experience, and few will understand.

We speak highly of our own branch of service, and poke fun at the other branches.

We know however, that, if needed, we will be there for our brothers and sisters and stand together as one, in a heartbeat.

Being a Veteran is something that had to be earned, and it can never be taken away.

It has no monetary value, but at the same time it is a priceless gift.

People see a Veteran and they thank them for their service.

When we see each other, we give that little upwards head nod, or a slight smile, knowing that we have shared and experienced things that most people have not.

So, from myself to the rest of the veterans out there, I commend and thank you for all that you have done and sacrificed for your country.

Try to remember the good times and forget the bad times.

Share your stories.

But most importantly, stand tall and proud, for you have earned the right to be called a Veteran. 🇺🇸

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Further to: Race

I received the following via email from a parking planner in Virginia:

A thought in response to your musings on parking and race –

I don’t believe that parking ordinances or policies such as RPP are racist, but I do believe that they can be used for discriminatory purposes.  Residents of primarily white single-family communities can and do seek out permit restrictions to prevent primarily minority residents of nearby multi-family housing from parking on their residential street.  Some residents aren’t even cagey about it – they will be clear that they want to prohibit minorities from parking on their street, and they couch it as a health, safety and welfare issue even when there is no evidence of such problems.  Of course they don’t always get the requested restrictions, but the racism lies in the residents’ intent.  I imagine any parking planner that deals with  RPP has received at least one request that they could identify as sought for discriminatory purposes.

I think we should look at these programs for the potential for disparate impact in the ways that residents seek to use the programs rather than consider the program itself inherently racist. RPP near work centers, transit, universities and high schools are implemented to protect the residential character of streets and reserve parking for residents, not for discriminatory purposes.  It’s the neighborhood vs. multi-family RPP requests where the intent gets sketchy.

Is it possible we find racism wherever we look. I am certain there are racists in the woodwork, but as noted in my previous blog, is it possible we are imperfect and in attempting to keep our neighborhood ‘pristine’ we sweep up everyone in our net.

We have all types of people who park in front of our home. Some drive Tesla’s and Corvettes, others broken down VW vans that they have to work on daily to keep running. Race aside, I would prefer that broken down cars, filled with trash, not be parked on my street.

Using your example above, it would seem to be OK to keep minorities out who attend a local school, or use the transit station nearby, or work in local shops, but not OK to keep minorities out who live nearby. It is difficult to see the difference. Unless, I’m not keeping minorities out, but keeping cars that don’t belong to people living in my neighborhood out no matter the race of the owner.

We are quick to apply reasons for actions, whether those reasons are valid or not.


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Is Parking Racist? Part 2

I wrote last month that I was going to host a discussion on racism in parking. I had read a number of articles about the topic and felt maybe it was one that could be of value to our industry. I have come to the conclusion it is a topic that can be beneficial and could also be harmful.

I have received an article that invites discussion, and I will print that in the August Issue of PT. I received another article that may cause discomfort among some of our readers. I will print it also, but with some comments. I think that an accusatory approach never brings benefits, but perhaps we need to see all sides.

My comments about racism last month did elicit the following thoughtful piece from the UK:

The topic ” Is Parking racist” seems to show the huge difference between US and the UK and Europe. I would be interested to understand why or if anyone actually would think in this way.
The parking sector is so huge, that for instance, whilst offering permits cheaper in one residential zone to another, may make one believe the thought of race played a part, actually most authorities, care about their residents over commuting visitors and thats just one reason to have for instance cheap residential parking, regardless of race and charge anyone else more.

With regards enforcement, the extremes we have often heard are “you gave me a ticket, because of my colour, perceived race, height, size, the vehicle I am driving” The difficulty with that statement in 2020 is that thousands of penalty charge notices (as called by some) are issued around the world, from unattended camera’s, that are rear facing, so its not generally acceptable for a choice to be available based on anything other than the offence. Whilst carrying out enforcement outside a school, the priority has to be that of the kids.

Its quite possible for parts of the parking industry, being so global, to make the question true, but i would be interested to see how the question pans out. It could be the perfect opportunity for us all to continue to design out, the issue of any ambiguity based not just on race, but just being imperfect humans on any average day of the week.

I tend to agree.  It seems to me that there is little evidence that in the current day racism has any more to do with the reasons parking rules were passed and enforced than the fact that a local business or neighborhood wanted to protect a valuable asset. We aren’t perfect, and we make mistakes. Can we not approach those mistakes without rancor and see them for what they are? Maybe overzealous, maybe in error, maybe a rule seeped in time and times have changed. Or maybe, just maybe, some rules offer solutions to problems and make our streets safer for all.

I welcome your comments and any discussion. Thanks.


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Yep… We Changed the Dates for PIE 2021 — It’s Now Set for April 12-15.

We are announcing new dates for PIE 2021. Our venue has offered us new dates and we grabbed them up. PIE 2021 will be held April 12-15 at the Schaumburg, IL Convention Center, a short 15 minute drive from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

These new dates will place PIE a month away from the Intertraffic Show being held in March in Amsterdam and move us into a time that doesn’t conflict with Spring Break, Easter or Passover. Plus, April is a beautiful time to visit Illinois.

Our PIE team, under the leadership of Marcy Sparrow, is working on some new approaches to the way we will be presenting the information content of the event, plus some “ab fab” networking that will truly ‘welcome back’ the parking industry after a challenging year.

Plan to come and see your parking friends, colleagues, and competitors after nearly 18 months without an industry event.

Mark your calendars. PIE 2021, April 12-15.



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Is Parking Back?

Is parking back? Will the recovery be a “V” or a lopsided “S”? The answers to these questions mean jobs, profit, and in some cases survival. Parking Today reached out to industry leaders and received encouraging news. In some cases it was counterintuitive.

An owner in Chicago, for instance, is seeing parking in his facilities at 65% of normal. Not too shabby considering that two months ago it was in the single digits. This is in the face of only about 35% of the office workers that feed his garages have returned to work. “Its fear of riding the trains,” he said. Many of those coming to work are driving and helping in the garage occupancy.

The vast majority of workers in downtown Chicago ride the Metra. And most of them, who are coming to work, are now driving. “We have companies we have never heard of calling up and asking for parking spaces.”

Of course his garage in Galveston that supports the cruise ship industry is a different story. “We haven’t parked a car since March, and probably won’t until the fall.”

Chicago’s experience may be different from Los Angeles, where rapid transit is not so pervasive, however operators, particularly in the hospitality end of the spectrum are seeing an uptick. We are told that high end destination hotels near the beach are selling out and people aren’t taking Uber and Lyft, but driving themselves, and that’s good news for the valet industry. Hotels that cater to the business traveler don’t see the same kind of increase. They will be slower to re bound.

Smarking reports the following: The rebound is happening slowly but surely: Miami commuter parking was back to almost 70% of same time last year, Austin 60%+, Boston 60%, Chicago 50%+; On_street parking has been back to 50% for 4 weeks nationwide, and online parking searching is back to 50%.

The bottom dropped out on the 15th of March. We are now four months in to this (I know it feels like four years) and things are turning around. If we can just keep our betters from screwing it up, we will come out just fine.


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Some Good News – Looking out the Window

I have noticed that the number of cars in the garage under our building is slowly increasing. In February it was full, in March empty, but now maybe 25% and increasing at about 5% a week. It is also an off airport location and those spaces have a few cars in them, too. Seems like good news.

Traffic is definitely picking up on the 405.  Not back to the normal urban crawl, but more cars nevertheless. They have to park somewhere.

I’m told that when you fly (I know a number of people who have flown in the past couple of weeks), the planes are full. This is very good news. That means as reservations pick up, airlines will have to lay on more flights, airports will be busier, more cars will be taking people to the airport, and on and off airport locations will begin to feel more normal.

I print this without comment – You can read it all here

Deaths in the U.S. from all causes peaked during week 15 of 2020, which is April 8 to April 14. This is the CDC’s chart found here. It shows that the Wuhan virus has never had any significant impact on those aged 0 to 44. Within the age groups that have been affected by COVID (remember, this chart shows deaths from all causes, which I think is the most relevant metric), fatalities peaked during week 15 and have fallen precipitously since then. The last couple of weeks worth of data are incomplete, but CDC includes provisional estimates of total fatalities to try to fill in that gap.

This chart also comes from the CDC. It shows the percentage of deaths that are attributed to pneumonia and influenza, which includes the Wuhan virus. Normally during flu season these causes account for six to eight percent of all deaths, while during the current epidemic they peaked at a little under 16 percent. But the percentage has fallen rapidly and is now back down to the average level.

Taking the data together, it appears that the Wuhan epidemic is more or less over. At this point, COVID-19 is just one of around 150 viruses currently in circulation. That doesn’t mean that it does no harm–it’s a disease–but it does imply that COVID does not represent a public health crisis, let alone a unique crisis. People are dying at the same rates they generally do.

The current increase in “cases” is mostly an artifact of vastly more widespread testing, but the testing and consequent “cases” have little significance since most people who contract the virus don’t even notice it–not exactly the definition of the greatest public health crisis in a century. This is especially true in the younger demographics where the disease is increasingly identified through testing. To the extent that total deaths begin to rise again, it will be evidence of a “second wave” of greater or less significance. But at this point, there is no evidence that this is happening.

Enough for now


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