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Quick and Dirty

No Free Parking

By Van Smith | Posted 8/4/2004

After granting free parking to motorcyclists at dozens of new downtown and Fells Point EZ Park meters, the Baltimore City Parking Authority has changed its mind and is making ’em pay (Quick and Dirty, “Pay Now, Pay Later,” July 28). Bikers aiming to park their hogs there are now advised to look for any remaining “single space ‘pole’ meters” or to “park in any of the numerous parking garages and lots around town,” writes Parking Authority spokeswoman Maureen Mulima in a July 30 e-mail to City Paper. Or they can take a timed receipt, issued from a money- and debit/credit card-taking EZ Park box nearby, and place it somewhere obvious on their bikes so that meter maids and men can see it—as can anybody else, including parking-receipt thieves. An automobile driver simply displays the receipt on the dashboard of his or her locked vehicle, but how to secure one on a motorcycle is a brainteaser.

After concerns from bikers were first brought up, in a letter published in The Sun on July 20, Mulima wrote that “[p]arking will be free for motorcyclists.” But she told City Paper the day after her letter was published that the free-parking rule was not official Parking Authority policy but a temporary fix till the city could iron out a solution to the problem.

Things are likely to get worse for motorcycles before they get better—but they may get better eventually. Worsening their immediate parking plight is the ongoing replacement of pole meters by EZ Park areas. Eventually, “it’s all going to be EZ Park,” Mulima said in an Aug. 2 phone interview. Thus, as pole meters become more rare, motorcyclists will increasingly have to retreat to parking garages—or risk theft of their receipts.

Mulima has some advice: Motorcyclists should “write their license-plate numbers on their EZ Park receipts,” which would mark a stolen ticket, should it end up on a vehicle with a different plate number. Later, perhaps, Baltimore will do what Boston has done, she says: offer adhesive tickets for motorcyclists.

Stephen Kariotis, an Owings Mills salesman whose July 10 letter to the Sun opened the debate over the situation in the first place, has a different idea: offer a tear-off copy of he parking receipt that a driver could keep as a record. That way, he says, a biker would still have proof of payment to show a judge should he or she get a parking ticket.

“I don’t have a problem paying for parking,” he says, “but if this is the method, then something has to be done. I mean, they announced ‘we have a great plan for this.’ And it turns out it’s nothing, back to square one.”

“We’re hoping to make things better for the motorcycles, rather than worse,” Mulima reassures. And she remains receptive to ideas and solutions—other than free parking, of course. The parking public—and anyone else concerned about EZ Park—can call her with thoughts and concerns at (443) 573-2800, ext. 841.

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