I see by the papers that we're scheduled to have another crackdown on parking violators. Our City Fathers think this is an urgently needed reform, so they plan to institute it next year, or perhaps the year after that.
It has been officially stated that stepped up enforcement of the parking regulations in not being proposed to increase the District's revenues, but rather to "clear the streets," I assume this means that it has somehow come to the attention of the people at City Hall that traffic here does not move too well.
We are going to hire a special force of 75 persons to write parking tickets and put boots on the cars of scofflaws who fall to pay their tickets. Instead of clogging the court system, these cases will be handled administratively.
Sounds good.If laws are needed, the ought to be enforced even-handedly and with a minimum of red tape.
Who will be affected by this stepped up enforcement? Three principal categories of violators, as I see it.
1. Those who park at "red meters."
2. Those who park in prohibited places.
3. Those who park during prohibited hours.
Unfortunately, the first two categories have little to do with clearing the streets or expediting the movement of taffice. Only the third catergory affects the movement of traffice.
Where one may park legally by depositing a coin in a meter, failure to deposit the coin has no effect on the flow of traffic.
Category Number 2 relates to places where parking is prohibited for special reasons: fire hydrants, loading zones, cab stands, building entrances, et. But vehicles illegally parked in such places seldom impede traffic. They do cause difficulties to other kinds, so these restrictions must be enforced. But violations have little to do with the flow of traffic.
Only Category Number 3 affects the movement of traffic. During rush hour, one illegally parked car cuts off an entire lane that might otherwise be used by moving vehicles.
So I would say the new crackdown will be only marginally useful in alleviating our traffic problems. It would be far more effective if it would include enforcement of some rules that have been alomst totally ignored for decades.
Let met cite two examples.
1. The rule that a motorist who wishes to pick up or discharge passengers may stop in a place where parking or standing are otherwise forbidden - provided that he stops only long enough to pick up or discharge. He is expressly forbidden to wait for passengers. Yet I can show you places in Washington were vehicles park, double-park and triple-park illegally every afternoon while they wait for passengers for as long as 30 minutes.
2. The rule that no person shall park or stand a vehicle except parallel to the edge of the roadway and no more than 12 inches from the curb. At almost any bus stop chosen at random you will find the rear ends of buses sticking out into what ought to be a clear running lane for moving traffic.
Many other examples of nonenforcement can be cited, but there is no need to labor the point. A crackdown on overtime parkers and people who park too close to fire hydrants is not going to do much toward eliminating our traffice jams.