Ever since their invention in 1932 and the beginning of their mass production in 1935, parking meters have been touted as our cities’ best answer to parking congestion. From the moment they were first installed to allegedly help us, meters immediately began to meet their demise at the hands of early vigilante groups who smashed them in protest. One of America’s most iconic movie characters, “Cool Hand” Luke, was sent to prison camp to work hard labor for the crime of destroying parking meters.
“what we have here is a failure to communicate”
These days we like to consider ourselves a civil society. Conversations at bars about bashing meters with baseball bats or filling their coin slots with super glue often end there–as frustrated drunk talk that only leads to quarter-filling compliance the very next day. We obey. But the fact remains: our cities say the meters are for our benefit, yet parking tickets continue to often top any other issue (including police, taxes and vandals) as the one thing that causes the greatest unifying mass angst.
The Bethlehem Parking Authority is just as commonly referred to as “The Parking Nazis” as they are by their acronym, the dreaded BPA. That’s not a nickname of endearment. It begs a poignant question: is there anyone in our city–any single citizen not employed by the BPA or city government–who genuinely LIKES or even casually APPROVES of the BPA? And if meters are almost universally hated by Bethlehemites, why do we continue to allow them to deface our historic streets and cause us so much anger? Is any good they may provide worth the feelings and energy of hate they spread throughout the populace? And, really, why are we citizens being charged and often fined to park on the streets that our taxes already paid for?
Unfortunately at this point, we are not going to totally eliminate the meters, we have to be realistic. Nor should we advocate vandalization. We CAN however, prevent the BPA from further expansion on our streets and into our pockets, because right now we stand at the precipice of yet another major hike in meter rates. Not to mention the installation of insidious new digital machines rigged with obnoxious blinking lights, credit card readers that connect to the internet and sensors that eliminate leftover time when vehicles pull away. The time to stand up and stop the BPA from these changes is NOW, for we find ourselves coming to the end of the city’s “test phase” of the new meters at which point they may decide to install them city-wide with the new rates.
How do we stop this expansion? We have a plan. And it’s a good plan that offers a sensible compromise that will benefit both parties–the frustrated public citizens and the partnership that is the BPA and the City of Bethlehem….. to be continued…
-How does this all make you feel?? We have been tirelessly investigating this situation and have so many facts, that we can’t keep our day jobs and sort them out into a legible piece of writing as of yet. But fear not, fellow Lehigh Valleyians! We got you! Post your comments below so we can get more feedback– how have the BPA’s new meters effected your life? How has the increase on the southside effected you and your customers? Do you work there? Live there? Tell us everything! Stay tuned for this weekly feature as we get all of this out on the table! -WINK
Click HERE for another article about the meters and the doubling of the hourly meter rate