Philly hates motorists

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A motorist uses the parking meter in Center City on March 22, 2010. (Ron Tarver/Staff Photographer)

This seems like a minor misunderstanding, but I think it reveals a lot about the city mindset under Michael Nutter – make war on cars.

The app proposed by the Philadelphia Parking Authority is forward-looking, unusual for an agency that is often mired in the past and bad practices.

If you don’t bother to go to the link (and 97.23% of you won’t, according to the polling I have just done in my head) what it says is PPA wants an app that would warn people the meter is about to expire and give them an option to extend the time to avoid a ticket.

User friendly for the people.

In explaining one consequence, however, Andrew Stober, chief of staff for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, said fewer tickets would mean less revenue for the school district.

"I believe they are apprehensive about this program because people could get less tickets and revenue could drop, just like it could rain tomorrow," said PPA Executive Director Vince Fenerty.

Stober quickly said no, no, no, that’s not the case and the city supports the app.

I’m not totally convinced because I suspect, and I have written, the city administration has an undeclared war on cars, or, to be more precise, motorists.

We have bike lanes, used by an infinitesimal number of people. We have almost zero enforcement on bad biking behavior. We have the hours in which metered parking is in effect stretched to 18 hours a day in some neighborhoods. The usual two-hour maximum doesn’t give a parker time to have a meal or see a movie. The parking signs are hap hazard, different from block to block, sometimes contradictory and printed in type so small they can’t be read by a motorist.

Many called me paranoid when I hypothesized about the “war.”

Then, one day, in Philadelphia Magazine, Patrick Kerkstra, wrote, "If it seems like there's a conspiracy to get people out of their cars, that's exactly what's going on."

Hmmm.

Inquirer columnist Inga Saffron (an avid bike rider), in writing about the new city zoning code, chimed in: "It favors density and transit while discouraging parking."

Maybe not so paranoid after all.

In today’s Daily News, Wendy Ruderman reported, “Last year, according to Stober, the school district received about $9.7 million from the Parking Authority. Fenerty said the 2014 total was closer to $11 million, with ticket revenue ‘as a primary source.’"

I don’t own a car, so I have no personal interest in this, other than being driven crazy when I occasionally rent one or have to help a citizen understand the insanity of the parking regs, supposedly designed to increase turnover.

The app would have the opposite effect, allowing motorists to stay longer if they will pay more. Something smells here.

Free parking in Center City is not a right, but owning a car is not a wrong.

I know some chuckle-heads disagree. Knock yourselves out.