I found the key to staying (relatively) sane in an insane world is to keep a sense of humor about most things. My ability to do so depends largely on how much coffee I’ve had and whether or not the sun is out. Mama always said, “you gotta pick your battles.” The scooter parking battle is a particularly heated one, and I vacillate between dragging out my soapbox and simply shaking my head in amusement.
The Seattle PI article on scooter parking this week provides a little salt for my assorted wounds:
Moving a little 150-pound scooter just a few feet over to make room in a prime parking spot has proved too tempting for some desperate motorists, leaving scooters vulnerable to damage and undeserved tickets. But the Seattle City Council may come to the rescue with a new law that would impose a $38 fine on anyone caught moving a scooter that isn’t theirs.
Why on god’s green earth are we even discussing the need for legislation to stop people from moving parked scooters to steal their space? Why? How does this action not fall under some other law? If I hopped into your convertible, shifted it into neutral and pushed it down the street so I could park my vehicle in the spot you paid for, isn’t that already covered under at least one of the million and five municipal codes?
And furthermore, would you consider the honest-to-goodness whopping $38 fine for such behavior fit for the crime?
In my opinion, this heinous act, which is basically auto theft, should come at a price of at least $44. Because that’s the fine I have to pay this week after somebody moved my legally-parked Vespa four feet into a commercial loading zone so they could steal my spot.
The fact that my 350 pound, 250cc Vespa is not a “little 150 pound scooter” didn’t slow them down any. And the fact that I wrote “CYCLE” across the parking sticker in black sharpie didn’t prevent them from swiping that, either. Since I was only running into the store for a few minutes, I paid for the sticker with quarters, which means I have no credit card receipt of the payment and therefore no proof of purchase. I believe this is what they call “S.O.L.”
I’ve had each of my scooters moved several times by someone (half the time the bikes landed face down – at least this time it was still upright) and I’ve had my parking sticker stolen twice, but this is the first time I got a ticket as a result. And I’m pissed.
I lived on a houseboat for a couple years and had to park in the marina lot, which was shared with a restaurant/nightclub. One Saturday morning, I found my scooter relocated to free-up the space it was parked in (and I paid RENT!). It was flung onto the curb of Westlake, face down in the bushes.
The problem is that car drivers feel entitled to something more than me, simply based on the size of their vehicle. Why should I be punished and inconvenienced so extraordinarily for trying to make my city a better place?
Now I’m thrilled that Sally Clark is getting in on the issue, and City Council has been all ears for the scooter community, asking for feedback, photos, recommendations, holding hearings. That’s awesome, on paper. Yet I keep watching cycle parking disappear while all this is going on. Two places I used to use were gone last week when I arrived to park, the first being 4th and Union.
Coincidentally, 4th and Union is the last place I received a parking ticket. I had class on that block twice a week. At first I used the cycle parking. My dilemma was that the parking space had a two-hour limit and the class was three hours long. I figured the two-hour rule didn’t apply to scooters, since there’s only two cycle spots on the whole street, so it’s not like I can move mine somewhere else.
I paid for the spot for two hours, and then bought another hour when the first sticker expired. I came out of class to find a ticket on my bike, “two hour limit” in bold black print, and a $35 fine.
I was livid. So the next week, I paid for my spot for 1.5 hours, and at the class break, I moved my scooter over to the other cycle spot (three feet to the left) and bought a new 1.5 hour sticker. As I was leaving class, I saw the meter maid printing me out a citation. I ran over and told her I moved it to the other space, and paid for it, and WTF?! And she said, “Well you didn’t move it far enough, and I can still see the chalk on the tire.”
I thought I was mad before?
The following week, I parked on the sidewalk. No two-hour limit there. It’s totally illegal to park on the sidewalk, mind you. But what I’m discovering is that not all cops have the same information in their little Scooter Harassment Handbook. I decided to park on the sidewalk until I got a ticket, which would surely be cheaper than parking in the garage twice a week — where they charge me the same as a car but don’t let me have an actual parking space, wedging me in next to the cashier.
Guess what? I never got a ticket for parking on the sidewalk in the middle of the day in downtown Seattle. I parked there twice a week for six months. No ticket.
However, last month I got a ticket while parked in the University District because I used one of those curved “leftover” spots that are technically not a parking spot because a car can’t fit there. But the one I chose was not painted red, therefore I saw no reason not to make the most of the space since nobody else could use it. Yeah. Totally flawed logic as far as the city is concerned, apparently. But they’re all about alternative transportation!
So I could fight this ticket, if I wanted. I could take a vacation day from work, go down to traffic court, and waste an entire morning pleading my victimhood – with absolutely no proof. But I won’t. Because it’s not worth my time, energy and frustration. Especially since I’d also have to pay for parking while at traffic court.
Although I guess I could just park on the sidewalk.