by Whet Moser
You are probably aware that the sale of the parking meters was a political disaster with growing repercussions for privatization vis a vis broke cities. But did you know it causes other crippling problems?
Here is where the larger state of the City’s economy comes in to question. While driving around Chicago yesterday I decided it would be nice to have a hot latte from Starbucks. I pulled up outside, and luckily, I found a spot right in front of the store. I then realized the parking meter pay kiosk was halfway down the block. I sat in my car for a second and thought, “if this were the old days, I could throw a quarter in a meter run in and I would have my wonderful hot latte in my hands.” The walk to the meter in the cold weather led me to pull away without my hot latte.
I then began wondering how Starbucks would feel knowing they missed out on a sale due to the fact that the parking meter station was too far away from their establishment. And, I wondered how many sales they miss on a daily basis due to this setup. To take it further, I started asking friends and colleagues if they make shopping decisions based on the meter situation. I found a resounding “yes.” One person stated that she will go out of her way to avoid the Walgreen’s with no parking lot and find a store that has free parking. I also repeatedly heard people say they avoid carry-out restaurants without a drive-through or a loading zone. I used to park at a meter right outside my office. I was happy to run out and feed my meter every couple of hours. It only cost me $1.00 for one hour of parking. Now, because the pay kiosk is almost half way down the block, I will drive around to find free parking within the neighborhood. Again, the parking revenue is lost.
Yes, that was a long excerpt from this post (via @swanksalot), but as I started to stop cutting and pasting, the author just kept doubling down. And in my horror I couldn't stop. Let's requote one passage just for emphasis.
I was happy to run out and feed my meter every couple of hours. It only cost me $1.00 for one hour of parking. Now, because the pay kiosk is almost half way down the block, I will drive around to find free parking within the neighborhood. Again, the parking revenue is lost.
In other words:
1. The author and her friends would rather drive around rather than walk half a block.
2. The author and her friends are not bothered by the considerably greater expense, but by the marginally greater distance from the car to the parking meter.
3. The author hasn't considered one of the actual benefits of the new parking meter system: by having only one meter kiosk per block instead of parking spaces defined by individual parking meters, there's more parking space per block (broadly speaking).
4. The author thinks that this is going to have a considerable effect on the city's economy.
5. Oh, fuck, what if she's right?
Things like this make me feel like I should go into a less hopeless-seeming field, like being a professional gas huffer or void-starer.