Sunday, March 15, 2009

More on Chicago Parking

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.


Gerry from Valpo said...

Have you seen the meters near the East Bank Club? They have a centralized pay machine. You can use coins or a credit card. It prints out a receipt that you place on the dashboard.

All I can say is I avoid going into the city as much as possible. Soon others will do the same. It's a nice place to have a good time but enough is enough.

Carl from Chicago said...

Ha ha when did you get that avatar for your comments? Very funny.

I haven't seen those at east bank club but will look for them. I saw them downtown. I will check them out.

Jonathan said...

The centralized machines are standard where I live. They work well and make parking more flexible, since there's no longer need to install a meter at each parking spot. I think they take credit cards, too, though I have used only coins.

I don't see parking meters or fees as having anything to do with obeying the law. They are merely a cost of doing business. I often pay for less time than I need, depending on what I think are the odds of being ticketed; paying for half of the time I am parked means that my odds of being ticketed go down by half. I can live with those odds, and every once in a while I get a ticket. It would cost me more, over time, to park in garages.

Carl from Chicago said...

In Chicago they are looking at booting people with only 2-3 outstanding parking tickets, so it can be a relatively high risk chance. I am too law abiding to do it anyways. It will be more manageable with machines but I don't think those machines are going to appear any time soon.

Jonathan said...

That's a separate issue. I'm not suggesting that anyone avoid paying parking fines. I am saying that fines should be seen as parking fees that are billed irregularly.

Anonymous said...

With all the people living, working, and visiting downtown Chicago on any given day or month, parking space can be one of the greatest commodities Downtown Chicago can offer. But if you know where to look, parking space in a garage or on the street in downtown Chicago can be found. You can find a list of parking spaces and many other useful information at