On Sunday I went out to Bucktown, where I used to live, to get some lunch and maybe walk around and look at stores since it was such a nice day. However, I forgot to take into account the new parking meter situation.
We pulled up on Division street (a big east-west street) and there was plenty of street parking - which always has been free on Sunday - but now officially it was 25 cents for 8 minutes of parking or $2 / hr.
We scrounged up change in the car but I didn't have too many quarters - I started feeding dimes into the meter but then realized that it wasn't adding any time. Even though the meter didn't say anything, clearly it was quarters or nothing.
I looked at the other cars nearby on street parking and most of the meters were flashing which means that they were out of time. I guess either the word hadn't gotten out yet on the new rules for Sunday or people were just taking a calculated risk that they wouldn't get ticketed (or if the meter maids showed up and started ticketing everyone, they likely wouldn't get to their car).
Not wanting a ticket and being a boring law-abiding citizen, I drove around to the side streets but they were all "zoned" for particular stickers and I couldn't park there, either, without running the risk of getting towed.
In the end we just gave up and drove home and we walked around our own neighborhood, River North, and ate at the Green Door and had a non-green beer. I guess going forward I will need to drive around with a roll of quarters in my car (100 quarters is 25 bucks - in the unlikely event that you fed meters all day that would buy you one day of parking) because it will add up very quickly should I need to park on a Chicago street.
I have no idea how they are going to empty the meters that fill up so quickly - 100 quarters would probably fill the meter in a day. Plus all the other change that people put in since there are no signs that only quarters are accepted. Maybe if I am bored I will fill the meter with pennies... and then say it is out of order.
Given that it took the company Laz that manages the meters MONTHS just to apply a damn sticker to the meters saying that meter payment is required all the time I have no hope that they are going to move to a credit card system or something like that any time soon for those areas that don't have this today (I have seen some complicated machines that allowed you to pay by credit card in the Loop).
Given all the opportunities for tickets I wouldn't be surprised to see hordes of police on Sunday, a day when people have traditionally expected that meters were free, ticketing away freely and earning money for the city.