Monday, 21 May 2012

A Place To Park

One of the things I love about my scooter is free parking. I can make stops all over the city... simply get off, do my errands and continue on with little hassle. Because my scooter is small I can park it on wide sidewalks between trees and far enough away from bicycle stands to leave cyclists happy. And because I live in Toronto I can park on streets for free. I don't do that very often because I worry about drivers not seeing my scooter before it's too late. I only park on streets when I have no other choice or I see a gathering (a bunch? a flock?) of motorcycles and scooters parked together and facing out into the street, taking less space and making their presence obvious to motorists.

The parking situation for scooters and motorcycles in Toronto has been a happy one. Several years ago a scooter rider named Michelle Calvert started a campaign to fight city hall over parking and won. Riders had been buying the Pay & Display tickets only to have them stolen or blown away by the wind. Luckily, at the time. city council agreed that riders were getting tickets unfairly and swiftly amended the parking laws.

But now, under Mayor Rob Ford, free parking on Pay & Display streets is threatened. In the late fall, city budget chief, Mike Del Grande, described the current situaion as  another freebie that is costing the city money. In local newspapers he was quoted as saying, "they burn gas just like everybody else." (Really? I burn gas.) "You take a parking spot, you pay what you pay for cars." According to The National Post the mayor agrees with his budget chief. But that's not surprising from a mayor who loves the car.

The fact that other Canadian cities are having to face similar parking questions just shows that scooters and motorcycles are gaining ground as a clement weather commuter choice. In Ottawa, city hall offers half-price parking for motorcycles and scooters and at the busy By-Ward market there's a seasonal half-price lot.  The city is trying to get around the problem of Pay&Display tickets with PayByPhone service which registered riders can use to avoid displaying the ticket. And in Vancouver, the city came up with a similar plan two years ago but only for about 230 designated spots. Before that riders had parked free in unofficial spots and the advocacy group, MC Parking wants a return to free parking. City staffers suggested giving motorcyclists an 80 percent reduction fee compared to cars but their attempts to change the parking laws were shut down last week when city councillors passed an amendment to keep the status quo and get tougher with bikers who don't pay. The battle is not over though. MC Parking leader Ian Tootill say motocyclists may jam city streets to protest the "idealogue council" who are "not interested in anything that has a tailpipe"
Last week's story from The Province.

Website for Vancouver advocacy group, MC Parking:

Canadian cities may be entering a new shift, the kind of shift that city councils had to face to accommodate cyclists. Parking experts could do worse than look at how parking is handled in Vietnam where the vast majority of vehicles clogging city streets are scooters and small motorcyles. They'd see some brilliant ideas such as using corner lots for parking lots in the day and restaurants at night or government agencies and big companies turning land around their building into huge lots. In front of cafes and restaurants there is always an employee who lines up the scooters to maximize the use of space. For the most part, parking is not free though. There are "lots" at beaches and spots along streets and lanes where attendants charge a small fee to park and watch the bike. And parking is still a problem in cities where two-wheeled motorists traffic has exploded. While sidewalk parking remains an option, it can cause huge problems for pedestrians who have often to walk out on the street because there's no room left on the sidewalk for them.

A smart solution in Ho Chi Ming City... corners that's are parking lots by day, restaurants by night.

A street in old Hanoi. Scooter parking makes it treacherous for pedestrians.

Scooter line the sidewalks in Hanoi.

Scooters in a Hanoi alley. Wherever there are scooters parked you'll see minders who make a little money with the spaces in front of their businesses.

Workers in Vietnam can often park on concrete lots in front of their buildings.

All pictures: Copyright by Debi Goodwin

No comments:

Post a Comment