Sunday, February 14, 2010

Parking Meters

Parking Meter:

Main Street and other surrounding Side Streets

Alfred, NY 14802

Parking meters are made out of metal with a long base stand. A parking meter also has glass with a meter inside of it that states either the time remaining or that time has expired. The design of the parking meters on Main Street in Alfred, New York is more pedestrian and simple. If one got destroyed, it stands to reason another one could be installed relatively quickly and easily.

Some more modern and urban parking meters now have a digital clock timer. Alfred’s parking meters have the traditional timing mechanism on the inside of the meter. One innovation is that one stand contains two meters to maximize space and minimize costs. However, the parking meters on the Main Street of Alfred are not indicative of the design of the more modern parking meters found in cities with greater populations.

Parking meters serve legally to regulate traffic. Many people feel parking meters are grossly unfair. They collect revenues but are only deemed to be legal if they are put in a location where it is deemed that they are regulating traffic (ie: Main St.)

Social Ritual----Many different venues install parking meters for social function and ritual. Alfred is not unique in the fact that it has parking meters. The need to regulate traffic is considered to be a necessity and parking meters are the way to regulate such traffic. Because the purpose of parking meters is all the same, the identity formation of a parking meter is not generally noted.

The item is marketed in 1935 as being socially beneficial for the reasons of regulating traffic. It is heavily monitored to prevent theft because it does hold money inside it which is of economic value. Critics believe it serves as a way of adding money to the local governments in the way of an informal tax.

Advances in technology are leading to advances in parking meters as new innovative systems of parking meters are being implemented. Newer parking meters in urban settings are occupying multiple spaces (8-12) to save space and look more aesthetically pleasing. These are known as multi-space meters. Also, the digital timing mechanisms are considered an advanced technology that also adds to the aesthetic value.

Consumers do not generally like parking meters. They see it as an unfair practice and as an informal additional tax. They generally do not think about the idea as to how its function is to serve to regulate traffic but rather how it is a charge against them and failure to comply will result in a very expensive ticket. For example, failure to insert 50 cents into the meter can result in a several hundred dollar ticket. Consumers view the punishment to be disproportionate to the crime. Some find it to be inconvenient to use because it usually only accepts quarters and if the individual parking the car only has bills, they may not be able to pay the price.

The design can be said to improve us and to fail to do so. If one believes that its true intent is to regulate traffic then it does improve us and allows us to function more appropriately in social settings with large populations. If one believes that it is a way to help fill government coffers then it seems to be an unfair practice. Either way, failure to comply and insert money can lead to a disproportionately high traffic ticket administered by a meter maid. The idea that one can receive a several hundred dollar ticket for failing to insert a quarter seems preposterous and judging from that angle, it is hard to reason how parking meters improve us on a moral level. Rather, it may be putting too much power into law enforcement and local government. The modern day advances to the technology of the parking meter can improve us because the digital timing mechanism may be easier for those who have vision problems to see so that they can accurately gauge the amount of time left on the meter. Also, multi-space meters may be easier to install, and because there are fewer of them, taxpayers may save some money as a result.

Each town kind of determines how they will implement parking meters so there are not necessarily competing ideas. Urban areas will utilize parking meters in a much different manner than country villages. Country villages may only install several of the parking meters on their main street whereas urban areas with greater populations will install a lot more or perhaps utilize the multi-space meters with digital timers.

Once installed, parking meters can withstand harsh weather elements for substantial periods of time and are relatively sustainable. Winds and cold temperatures will likely not cause much damage to the metal stands that are cemented firmly into the concrete sidewalks. Conversely, a lot of metal is needed to create the parking meters and that may be considered to be depleting of resources.

Is the true intent of the parking meters truly to regulate traffic or for the city to gain more profits from its citizens? Does it serve as an informal tax? Does it seem fair that failure to pay a quarter or two will result in a several hundred dollar fine? Do the multi-space meters really help or are they more confusing for consumers to understand how to use them?


  1. I like the exploration into the parking meter and its history and function, although in places it gets mildly repetitive. Also I would like to see more on how it affects Alfred or more how Alfred installed theirs particularly it seems that you stray away from Alfred as you progress into the world of Parking meter history. Very well written and researched.

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  3. Parking Meter additional info.

    The Village of Alfred (NY) parking meter regulations are as followed: Weekdays from 9am-11am and 1pm-5pm money is required for parking at parking meters. Money is not required during weekdays between the hours of 11am-1pm, on weekends (Sat. and Sun.) and holidays. Meter violations result in a fine of $7.00. (