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Given that American automobile drivers are responsible for a big part of the global warming problem that is producing ever less bearable summers in metropolitan Washington, it’s pretty funny to see local drivers eagerly writing to Washington City Paper to justify parking-meter bashing (The Mail, 7/18).

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These self-righteous, anti-government car freaks are not only helping to return the global climate to Jurassic Park conditions with their burning of gasoline and their generation of excess carbon dioxide; by supporting parking meter bashing, they’re also attacking one of the few systems that local government has devised for making cars economically workable for cities—and in this manner, they’re shooting themselves in the foot. They’re undermining their own stupid, short-sighted transportation choices, and it’s about time, too.

Any Urban Planning 101 professor knows that when cities install and operate parking meters properly, the meters produce a greater turnover in parking spaces and thus promote a freer flow of automobile traffic through the average downtown business district. In the absence of meters, though, the lucky few drivers who first occupy parking spaces tend to hog them, making it tough for everybody else to find a parking spot and reducing the total number of drivers who can use the streets and patronize the local businesses.

By destroying Washington’s parking meters for fun and profit, then, the meter bashers are actually preparing us for a.) a downtown gridlock crisis and the increasingly flight of business to the suburbs, in the short term, and b.) a car-free future in the long term. Objective b. is a very good thing, but it’s probably not what the meter bashers and their supporters think they want.

Mount Pleasant

via the Internet

Letters 8/1/97