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Category Archives: Motorcyle & Scooter Parking

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

Dear Geek,

This past Saturday night I got a parking ticket two minutes after my time had expired. I then found out about the 5-minute grace period rule, and I thought I could use it to get the ticket dismissed.

The city website said to call their 800 number to find out what to do to make this happen. When I called Tuesday, I was told that the ticket wasn’t even in their system yet, and they couldn’t do
anything about it until then. The agent said there were a lot of tickets being processed from the holiday weekend, and suggested that I wait a week until the following Tuesday to try again.

I asked: “What about this warning on my ticket that says: ‘Within 7 days of this violation notice you must either pay the applicable fine or contest this violation notice’” ? I was worried that if I waited until next Tuesday to call back, my seven-day time limit would run out.

But the agent told me that the seven days doesn’t start until the violation gets posted in their system, and that I had nothing to worry about. Supposedly, the “violation notice” is not the ticket itself, but some more abstract thing that only exists after the city officially recognizes the ticket.

Is this true? Is the language on the ticket really that misleading? Is the seven-day thing really BS? Just last month my girlfriend realized that seven days had passed since she was issued a parking ticket, and drove to the 24-hour post office on Canal street to get her contestation postmarked by the deadline. Was there no need to hurry?

Thanks for your help, and your blog!

Noel

Actually, the person(s) you spoke to on the phone are correct Noel.

Parking Ticket Rage Inspiration For Cling N’ Go

By Diana Novak

Think the overzealous diligence of Chicago’s parking enforcement aides is annoying?

Do you get angered when you’re a bit late in getting back to your car, just to see a bright orange envelope mockingly peeking up from the windshield wiper?

But nothing compares to the explosive rage you feel after paying for parking, dutifully placing the receipt in your car’s windshield, yet still getting a ticket because the paper flipped over, slid off the dashboard or was simply missed by the PEA.

Brad Kramer knows that rage.

Chicago Parking Meters Debut New, Motorcycle Friendly Receipts

Over the past few weeks,  motorists parking at Chicago parking meters may have noticed a mild change to their pay and display receipts.

The pay boxes are not printing out on the lightweight thermofax paper receipts anymore, but instead are spitting out new adhesive backed meter receipts just in time for the motorcycle/scooter season.

The pay boxes, when they were first rolled out, did have adhesive backed receipts that allowed for motorcycle and scooter riders to affix the receipt to their headlamps to prove they paid for parking.

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

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Hi Geek,

I received a notice for 2 parking tickets I supposedly received in 1991.

Although the address on the tickets are close to where I lived at that time I had a private parking space so I really doubt they are valid.

What’s the legality of this? Isn’t there some sort of statute of limitations on parking tickets?  I think the total fine for the 2 tickets now stands at $120.00. Not only can I not afford the fine, I truly believe these tickets were never valid. I don’t ever remember receiving a notice before this. Come on! 18 years?

I’d appreciate your opinion,

Larry

New Year’s Resolutions For Chicago Parking Meters

new year's resolutions

Normally, when the beginning of a new year comes around, many people draft a list of New Year’s resolutions.

Some see it as trying to turn over a new leaf, or just want to improve on a segment of their life. People use it as a way to inspire themselves to get in shape and/or lose weight, or others are just trying to stop imbibing themselves into a coma each night.

Whatever it is, New Year’s resolutions are as good as reason as any to try improving one’s self.

Yes, I am fully aware we’re nearly two weeks into 2010. And yes, New Year’s resolutions are made at the beginning of the year.

My New Year’s resolution is to stop procrastinating.

Oops! I’ve already screwed up. Damn!

But I thought drafting a list of New Year’s resolutions for Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, might be a way to share ways for them to improve their services to us–the motorists who feed their parking meters every day.

One hopes this list of New Year’s resolutions gets a place of prominence above desks of prominence at CPM.  But my guess, it will, like most New Year’s resolutions, make it into the trash sooner than later.

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1. Nickels & Dimes

Let drivers pay with for their metered time with nickels and dimes.

We know those pay boxes can be adapted to allow other coin denominations besides dollar coins and quarters. Most drivers who prefer using change, would love a way to unload their spare change. It would seem less painless to rid our pockets of all the damn nickels and dimes that accumulate in our pockets over the course of the day and week.

Plus, some of us are so broke, digging for spare change in the cushions of our couch or between the seats of our cars is an embarrassing, but necessary part of daily life these days.

And how often do drivers run out of that last quarter they need to get the full time they want?

Sure, it may be a little more difficult and mildly more expensive in collections, but my guess, the company will get more compliance in the long run and therefore more revenue.

2. Prepaid Debit Cards & Gift Cards

The CTA does it. So does Metra.

If you prepay for a certain amount of rides, public transit riders can get a discount.

Why not apply this to parking meters?

Drivers who use the meters often can purchase credit in advance and perhaps even have the ability to re-charge their cards on-line.

These debit cards could be used as gift cards as well.

Scooter receipt

3. Solve the Motorcycle Parking Issue

We know CPM is supposedly testing a solution that is an improved adhesive backed receipt to solve this relentless motorcycle/scooter parking issue. That’s good.

But we have an additional idea to recommend.

Invest in some sort of small, clear plastic pouch or envelope that can be easily affixed or attached to a motorcycle or scooter.

Seriously, I know some dudes in this factory in China with a few thousand 9-year old kids on staff, that can pump out several thousand of these for about $100 including shipping. Have them slap the CPM logo on it and start giving them away to any and all motorcycle owners in Chicago.

Send one to every registered motorcycle or scooter owner in Chicago. Give them away at motorcycle dealers all over the city and suburbs.

Not only will it be a gesture of goodwill showing how much you respect your two-wheeled customers, it will allow motorcycle and scooter owners a way to secure their expensive piece of paper proving their paid for parking and keep it safe and dry from the elements and without getting sticky crap all over their headlamp.

4. Be Honest & Upfront With The Public

I’m not sure you know this. But CPM is a public utility like ComEd, and People’s Gas. The company, with the full approval of our Mayor and City Council, has been given a mini-monopoly of Chicago’s on street parking.

CPM is in the big time now and needs to behave like it.

They need to take some tips from these other utilities dealing with service issues.

When the power goes out in a storm, ComEd spokespeople contact the media the problem occurs. Not hours or days after the problem is identified. And not just when reporters are knocking on your door. These issues need to be addressed immediately.

When all those several hundred new pay boxes in the loop had that hiccup and stopped working this past spring, you should have made a public announcement about it right away and assured the public you were aware of the situation and were working to fix the problem.

Or more recently, when many of the pay boxes froze up due to the wet weather and rapidly plummeting temperatures, you could have contacted the media when the problems first began the night before and explained your maintenance technicians were on the job.

In addition, in both cases the company tried to play fast and loose with the facts, instead of just giving an truthful assessment of the situation.

If you were honest and upfront with the public, and explained what happened immediately, most people would have understood and it would have blown over quickly. Instead,  you made a bad situation much worse.

The public is not completely stupid, and deserves not to have its collective intelligence insulted.

While I hope similar situations don’t happen again, if it does, do the right thing.

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5. Park Magic In-Car Meter

What the hell are you waiting for?

Seriously. What’s the deal here?

The company has a chance to pull the trigger on a cutting edge parking payment technology, on a product that is already been proven and successful here in Chicago and CPM just won’t do it.

What gives?

Do they even know what talking about?

ParkMagic is that in-car parking meter, much like I-Pass that allows drivers to pay for parking via cell phone.

Are they looking into some other providers? I know some others exist. But ParkMagic is already running here. And it’s users universally LOVE the service. LOVE IT!!!! It has a 97.6 approval rating.

Cell phone technology is changing every aspect of our lives, including paying parking meters. Allowing Chicago drivers to use this technology, and giving them one more option to feed the meters, just increases the compliance rate and ultimately puts more money in the company’s coffers.

It’s a no brainer. So quit stalling and just do it!

6. Lower Meter Rates

You need to lower parking meter rates.

No, seriously, you do.

Not everywhere. But in some places.

The three, one size fits all meter rates aren’t working in some cases.

While increased rates have improved parking in many areas of the city, in others, the higher rates have pushed drivers away in droves. I see some metered blocks in some neighborhoods that have almost no one parking there.

There’s nothing in the lease deal which prohibits CPM from lowering rates in some cases.

It’s simple economics.

Lower rates in less trafficked areas and you’ll increase revenue.

50 or 25 cents an hour is greater than 0 cents per hour.

It’s grammar school mathematics.

Not only would this increase revenue, but you would generate much needed goodwill.

New Motorcycle Friendly Meter Receipts Debut At ABATE Meeting

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The phone rang.

It was Patrick Jones, President of Chicago ABATE calling to talk.

I had e-mailed him earlier in the week to get his and his group’s input on Chicago Parking Meter, LLC’s announcement of a solution to a small, but nagging issue for motorcycle and scooter riders parking in Chicago.

As you may recall, the company originally utilized a receipt with an adhesive back. Motorcycle and scooter riders could easily affix to their headlamp (per the instructions) and be reasonably confident it would work and not get blown away in the wind or stolen.

But then in early summer, as reported here, the company switched to a lower cost thermofax paper, with no adhesive backing and therefore no way for two wheeled motor vehicles to use the meter system. Eventually, CPM had clear plastic pouches installed on the sides of all pay boxes with adhesive strips (tape) to stick the receipt onto headlamps.

This worked, but not exceedingly well. Receipts would blow off, or were easily stolen and the paper didn’t do well in a rainstorm, like WTTW reported just a few weeks ago.

A lot of motorcycle riders and scooter riders complained.

After a few questions and a couple of minutes of conversation, Jones invited me out to ABATE’s monthly meeting on October 21, to check out samples of the new adhesive backed receipts CPM was asking club members to test out.

CPM has been working with Chicago ABATE, the area’s largest motorcycle organization, for input on this issue.

According to Jones, the original receipts were too thick and were jamming the new pay & display meters.

“I believe they’re thinner,” said Jones looking over the sample receipts. “I like them better than the first ones, because they didn’t have a perforated receipt. And the adhesive looks good.”

The new receipts are very similar to the original ones as both are adhesive backed. However, the new ones have a perforated side receipt a motorcycle or scooter rider can take with them as proof they paid for their parking if something happens to their main receipt taped to their headlamp.

Vick Murray, a motorcycle rider who attended the meeting, who has had some major problems with the current receipt system feels the new receipts are an improvement.

“This is better than scotch tape, obviously, and shouldn’t mar your paint,” said Murray. “We’ll have to see what happens when it gets wet.”

“They do seem thinner, adhesive looks good…these should work well,” said another cycle rider who declined to be named.

We attempted to contact spokesperson from CPM for comment and additional information on the new receipts, but they only directed us to the press release on their website.

According to the press release info, “The new adhesive receipt has a number of benefits over the old. The biggest being it is easier to use (it works like a sticker) and utilizes less adhesive. That’s good for motorcycle headlamps as the receipt will leave behind less adhesive residue. These new receipts are being used at several pay boxes and CPM is working with ABATE to determine additional locations.”

These new and improved receipts will be available in all pay boxes by March 15, 2010.

WTTW Re-Ignites Motorcyle Meter Matter

Last week, Chicago Tonight, WTTW Channel 11‘s refreshingly intelligent nightly local news program, did a piece on the issues surrounding how motorcycle and scooters riders deal with the new parking meters.

It’s nice to see someone else covering the issue after this site’s original coverage of the issue back in July.

Of course, that fool, the Parking Ticket Geek, weasels his way into the piece as well.

The Geek On Chicago Tonight At 7

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Chicago Tonight, WTTW Channel 11′s prestigious and intelligent local news show, is doing a news piece on how motorcycle and scooter owners are contending with the new parking meter pay boxes.

For what only can be called an extreme lack of judgment, they interviewed that idiot the Parking Ticket Geek for their piece.

It airs tonight at 7 PM on Channel 11.

Parking Ticket FYI: City Slowly Turns Up Enforcement

tick.jpgThere have been a few recent and impending changes to parking enforcement in Chicago and  the expectation of increased enforcement on the horizon.

Here’s a digest of the latest Chicago enforcement news to keep drivers up to date.

PEAs Enforcing More Violations

Ticketmaster and DoR Employee, both Parking Enforcement Aides (PEAs) for the city and frequent contributors to this website, are reporting that PEAs are now being allowed to write tickets for a litany of parking violations that before now, were only issued by the cops.

Here’s the list of violations:

  • Expired plates on out of state vehicles
  • Smoked/tinted windows
  • Parking more than 12 inches from curb/wrong direction (excluding cul de sac’s)
  • Motorcycles/scooters required to park 90 degree angle or diagonal on a curb
  • Parked outside diagonal markings
  • Abandoned vehicle; not moved in 7 days
  • Failure to pay at pay box/lot; outside of designated space in city lot
  • Outside metered space (only if there are old style meters and lines on the ground)
  • Lamps broken/missing
  • Rear view mirror required
  • Parked on city property
  • Failure to display TV news permit

The most important thing to take away from this information is that Chicago drivers need to drive and park more intelligently. Be wary of where and how you park. Make sure you are parked legally and your vehicle is in compliance.

The DOR is also, reportedly,  exploring whether to allow PEAs to enforce “no front plate” violations for out of state vehicles.

The only problem with this is, every state has different laws regarding the necessity of a front plate. In Illinois, every vehicle MUST have a front and back plate.

In Indiana and Michigan, the front plate is optional.

One could see a lot of confusion and improperly issued tickets on this particular violation.

LAZ Enforcement Rumor

Word on the street is that LAZ is getting ready to begin their meter enforcement efforts again.

If you recall, back in March when the parking meter transition (from the city to Chicago Parking Meters, LLC/LAZ Parking), began spiraling out of control with broken meters, vandalized meters, meters with inconsistent information, etc., the company allegedly “voluntarily” agreed to suspend enforcement until they got their act together.

You see, per the parking meter lease agreement, CPM/LAZ has the ability to use their own personnel to write expired meter violations.

But now that LAZ has really turned things around and seems to have corrected most, if not all of the original problems, one expects LAZ enforcement to begin writing tickets again sooner than later.

Several sources within the Department of Revenue claim LAZ enforcement is set to go back to work very soon.

Although, official city spokespeople will not confirm this rumor.

“CPM and LAZ are not presently issuing parking meter violations,” says Dept. of Revenue spokesperson Ed Walsh via e-mail. “They wrote 110 tickets before voluntarily suspending enforcement in March. That status has not changed.”

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Curbside Change

You may have not noticed, but there has been a subtle change to the instructions on Pay & Display receipts as far as dashboard placement.

Originally, you were supposed to pay for parking, wait for your receipt to print and then place it on the driver’s side dashboard.

Now, new receipts are instructing you to place it on the dashboard side adjacent to the curb. This means, it gets placed on the passenger side on traditional two-way streets, and on a one-way street, which ever side is next to the curb.

This change is reportedly to improve safety for enforcement, who before the change, had to wade out into the street to check for expired receipts on the driver’s side.

In that regard, it’s obviously a positive move.

Unfortunately, this will mean another change to instructions on the pay boxes which still instruct drivers to place the receipt on the driver’s side.

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Unfortunately, this will mean another change to instructions on the pay boxes which still instruct drivers to place the receipt on the driver’s side.

In the meantime, Parking Enforcement Aides (PEAs) and other parking enforcers, are being instructed to look anywhere on the dashboard and to even check if receipts are taped to rearview mirrors.

If you are accidentally ticketed, even though you were paid up and have the receipt to prove it, just contest it by mail and send a copy of your receipt and an explanation of the situation. There should be no way you lose.

Changes To City Sticker Enforcement

There has been a recent and minor change to the municipal code regarding enforcement of city stickers. A few years ago, the city council passed a law that allowed ticket writers to enter public parking garages/lots licensed by the city, to enforce city sticker violations.

But now, it seems the code has been recently changed to include ANY parking lot, under the assumption you used the public way to arrive at this parking lot.  Here’s the code.

There shall be a presumption that any vehicle parked in any public garage, as defined in Chapter 4-232, or any parking lot open to pedestrian traffic, used the public ways to arrive at its location.

This means, even parked in the lot at McDonald’s getting your Dollar Menu fix for the day, you can get ticketed for a city sticker violation.

New Guy over at Street Ops

The Department of Revenue has a new Street Operations (aka parking enforcement) Czar. Again, the grapevine is saying he is reviewing everything within that department to “increase coverage and productivity.” Uh-oh.

How The Budget Deficit Will Effect Enforcement

In the past several weeks, more information keeps coming out regarding the ever increasing city budget deficit. The Daley administration estimates that, despite a huge budget deficit for 2009 that was only partially filled by the proceeds from the meter lease deal, we’re in store for another $500+ million deficit in 2010.

Obviously, this is bad news in general. But drivers need to be even more wary than everyone else. One way to help plug that budget hole is going to be through increased enforcement. As you can see from this article, it’s already begun. So, don’t be surprised as the intensity of enforcement continues to grow.

For example, currently, enforcement on weekends is relatively lax. My expectation would be to expect this to change for the worse on both the ticketing and booting front.

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Start Of The Month Reminder…

The always kind and thoughtful Ticketmaster reminds everyone, today is September 1st.

If you’re plate sticker expired yesterday, make sure you dash out to a Currency Exchange or a Secretary of State location and get it renewed today!

Because a ravenous pack of ticket hungry PEAs will be out today looking for your the expired tags on your vehicle.

New Parking Meters Put Motorcycles, Scooters In Sticky Situation

Chicago’s new Pay & Display parking payment kiosks, have put motorcycle and scooter riders in a sticky predicament.

Perhaps, more accurately, a non-sticky situation.

Initially, when Pay & Display kiosks were introduced, motorcycle and scooter owners were advised to park perpendicular to the curb, pay for their parking, take the freshly printed receipt from the machine, write your license plate number on the front, and then, per the instructions on the back, stick the adhesive backed receipt to the headlight of your two-wheeled vehicle.

While mildly awkward, this method insured the rider’s receipt wasn’t stolen or didn’t blow away in the wind.

But now, in what seems like a cost cutting measure and contrary to the city’s most recent motorcycle/scooter parking policies, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC has decided to print receipts with less costly, standard thermofax paper, instead of the more expensive pressure sensitive receipts. In addition, the instructions for affixing the receipt on scooters and motorcycles is no longer printed on the backs of the receipts. It is now blank.

The cost savings in switching paper types for the receipts is dramatic, with thermofax paper being roughly half the cost of receipts printed on pressure sensitive paper.

“There’s no comparison,” says a customer service representative for Printing Technologies, Inc., an Indianapolis, IN based printing firm specializing in for the parking enforcement industry. “Based on my experience, I would say it (pressure sensitive receipts) are at least 50% more.”

Of course, this change doesn’t make a lick of difference to car owners. But it makes a huge difference to motorcycle and scooter owners.

Without the ability to display their parking meter receipt safely on their two-wheeled vehicle, hundreds of blocks of Chicago’s metered street parking are effectively off limits to scooters and motorcycles.

Unless, that is, they want to carry rolls of tape wherever they go.

Urban motorcycle rider Jon Heimann is upset by this change in parking receipt policy.

“What motorcycle riders do you know who carries a roll of tape with them?” asks Heimann rhetorically. “How many Harley guys walk around with a pen in their pocket?”

While scooters and motorcycles, admittedly make up a minority of vehicles driving and parking in Chicago, this is just one more problem with how Chicago deals with motorcycle and scooter parking. It’s this perceived dismissive attitude by the city toward two wheeled motor vehicles that makes scooter rider, Eric Stubbings, angry.

“I’m getting e-mails almost every day from riders trying to find a valid way and place to park a scooter or motorcycle,” says Stubbings, Founder of the Chicago Scooter Club. “Other cities have designated motorcycle and scooter parking.”

Other Cities Handle Motorcycle/Scooter Parking More Effectively

Stubbings says parking a motorcycle or scooter on the street amongst cars, vans and small trucks can be dangerous. Often, he explains, two wheeled vehicles get knocked over and damaged by other motorists or sometimes physically picked up and moved to the sidewalk to make room for another car. Once on the sidewalk, they can be ticketed for parking there. It’s for these reasons that Stubbings feels Chicago has to designate more parking specifically for scooters and motorcycles.

He points to San Francisco as an excellent example of an American city that has worked hard to address the needs of motorcycle and scooter riders.

In San Francisco, metered spots for motorcycles and scooters are numbered with six spaces per meter

In San Francisco, metered spots for motorcycles and scooters are numbered six to a meter. Photo copyright and courtesy of Cactus the Saint

Stubbings explains that, in San Francisco, with riders using these metered spots designated for two wheeled motor vehicles, drivers make their payment at the kiosk, input their license plate number into the machine and parking enforcement can check the kiosk to see which spaces are paid up, without the need for paper receipts.

SF's motorcycle/scooter meters can be checked by enforcement from the street to see who has paid

SF's motorcycle/scooter meters can be checked by enforcement from the street, to see who has paid. Photo copyright and courtesy of Cactus the Saint

Stubbings, who believes scooters and motorcycles produce a lot less exhaust than a typical car says, “If Daley wants this to be a ‘green’ city, he should put his money where his mouth is (and embrace initiatives to promote motorcycle/scooter riding).

“This system always seemed weird to me,” says Bryan Bedell, the proprietor of the scooter-centric webzine, Two Stroke Buzz. “The adhesive seemed like a weird conception that wasn’t very well thought out in the first place, so I’m not surprised they stopped doing it. But, honestly, you can’t expect people to have tape with you.”

The city and Chicago Parking Meters, LLC/LAZ Parking, are aware of the issue and but now seem to be frantically scrambling to implement a temporary fix to the problem.

Small clear envelopes, with adhesive strips inside, are being mounted to the sides of some Pay & Display units. Although, currently only a few of the machines we checked had them, and of the ones that did, some were out of the strips or had been waterlogged and were unusable from recent rains.

“The City worked closely with local motorcycle interest groups in piloting adhesive paper,” says Department of Revenue spokesperson Ed Walsh via e-mail. “Presently, an alternative is being piloted. Adhesive strips are available at the pay and displays for use by motorcycle and scooter owners. The adhesive strips allow motorists to adhere the receipt to the motorcycle or scooter’s headlamp. If there are no available adhesive strips, motorcycle and scooter owners should call the number on the pay and display box and report this fact.”

However, the sticky strips made available, utilize such a mild adhesive, that they can be easily removed and stolen for someone else to use. With meter rates as expensive as they are, peeling a receipt off a motorcycle for one’s own use, would be like finding a few extra dollar bills on the sidewalk–even if you have to cross out any license plate number written on the receipt.

Others speculate the new adhesive strips may allow the receipts to come loose from the headlamp in a strong wind. The previous adhesive backed receipts were made with a much stronger adhesive and could not blow away or be easily pulled off the headlamp without some effort, if properly applied.

Advice For Motorcycle & Scooter Riders

So what’s a motorcycle or scooter owner to do if none of these adhesive strips are available and you want to avoid getting ticketed?

Finding a place to carry a roll of Scotch tape with you is one solution.

Another is Login Parking’s new Pay & Display receipt holders and locks. These plastic sleeves and boxes allow motorcycle and scooter owners to slip their meter receipts into clear protective plastic and lock it to the bike.

Heimann, a frequent fighter of parking tickets, recommends a more combative approach to parking your motorcycle at a metered space.

“Put the receipt in your pocket. If you get the ticket, contest it after the fact (as the time and date stamped receipt proves your payment).” advises Heimann. “If someone takes it (your receipt off your motorcyle), you’re totally out of luck.”

GEEK EDITOR’S NOTE: Special thanks to Cactus The Saint, a photographer and motorcycle enthusiast from San Francisco, who kindly allowed us to use his photos. Check out his Flickr page for more photos and info on how SF handles scooter and motorcycle parking.