April 26, 2012

Columbus Downtown Parking Meters

Today, I want to focus in on peak-hour restrictions for parking and what you should expect. Recently, there has been more discussion about downtown parking in Columbus versus drive-ability. On-street parking at all times of the day or at least during off-peak hours could restore the retail and commerce downtown. However, on-street parking at peak hours (7:00 AM - 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM) could also reduce two travel lanes and cause delays/problems when people attempt to park or get out of the parking space. What's it like to park downtown today?

The first picture in this post is on Front Street by State Street. There are 3 parts of the sign that say NO STOPPING. The uppermost is no stopping for street cleaning every Monday at 12:00 AM - 6 :00 AM. The left part of the sign is a generic no stopping at any time closer to the intersection. Finally, the right part says no stopping 7:00 AM-9:00 AM and 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM. It would be nice, although likely expensive, if there could be signs with green lights that say "Parking = OK!" or red lights that say "No Parking Now!" That might reduce the millions* of people who park there, stare at the sign, get out of the car, realize that there's parking restrictions, and then get back in their car.

Let's say that you get out of the car without seeing the large No Parking signs. The curb-facing side of the meter has red tape that says that it's a tow-away zone 7-9AM and 4-6PM. That would be bad. What happens if I am still oblivious and try to put money in?

At 7:01 AM, the meter displays "No Payment Needed Until DAY 09:00 AM." If I recall, that side of the meter does not state that it's a tow-away zone, plus, I would guess that most people would concentrate on the screen rather than any stickers on it. It would be better if it displayed "Tow-Away Zone Until DAY 09:00 AM." I've made a request to Columbus to suggest the change.

The other option is to try to put change in before the parking restrictions. In this case, I arrived at the parking meter at 3:43 PM and there were already 13 minutes remaining in it / it expired at 3:56 PM. Note that it also says that the Max. Stay is 2 hours. This is incorrect as the max stay at that time is 17 minutes. Well what happens if you put money in at 3:43 PM to go longer than 4:00 PM?

It only lets you stay until 4:00 PM! That's pretty good. However, it is slightly disconcerting that the maximum time still says 2 hours:

I'll also include a suggestion to change the current maximum stay to be more accurate. 

One last note. As I was doing my hard-hitting journalism, the guy that owned the car parked at the spot returned to his car. He almost had a hard attack because with my yellow bike jacket, I almost looked like a city employee giving him a ticket. No, mister. I'm a blogger who blogs about bikes and transportation. That's why I'm taking pictures of these parking meters.

*This statement is not meant to be factual.

My Drunk Kitchen making cookies while drunk video of the day (NSFW):

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