A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bureaucracy: The Expenditure of Massive Effort to Do Nothing

Blog buddy Turboglacier has been agitating lately for our wannabe-"sustainable" city to provide more, or at least some, legal parking for high-mileage scooters and mopeds downtown. He points out that his scooter "can get up to 60mph but gets roughly twice the gas milage of a Prius, three times that of a Civic, and five or six times that of a Hummer."

After eighteen months of planning and discussion, our lightning-quick City Hall has finally authorized legal scooter, moped, and motorcycle parking downtown (click the link to find out where).

But Turboglacier notes that "scooters will still be banned entirely from the covered garages here, rather than invited in for free as in London and Lancaster. Which really makes no sense if you're trying to have a city with fewer cars, less congestion, less pollution, easier parking, and less acreage dedicated to vehicle storage, and you would like people to opt for a scooter rather than a car even if it might rain today."

I didn't think that made sense, either, so I wrote to the City's parking manager, a fellow named John Peverada, to ask why four-wheeled motor vehicles were allowed inside city-owned garages, but two-wheeled motor vehicles are not. After all, the garages have a lot of unused nooks and crannies that are too small for a car, but big enough to fit a motorcycle, and allowing motorbikes in the garages would clearly be a more efficient allocation of a scarce public resource.

His reply:

We do not allow motorcycles to park in the garages for a variety of

1. If a motorcycle is parked on the sloped ramps and some one hits it,
and then it tips over, possibly hitting a vehicle, or the gas leaks out
causing another safety issue.

[ed. comment: so vehicles that might hit other vehicles, or leak gas, shouldn't be allowed in the city garages. OK, then, so by this logic, the city's garages should only allow electric cars, and just to make sure that no collisions happen, only one vehicle should be allowed inside at any given time. Sounds like parking downtown will soon be more of a hassle...]

2. Some of the garages have a protective membrane covering the concrete
deck and the kickstand of the motorcycles could damage it. The Elm St. &
Spring St. Garages have a coating on the roofs that would be compromised
by a kickstand on a hot day.

[ed. comment: actually, a 300 pound scooter, resting on three points of contact - two rubber tires and a kickstand - exerts less force per square inch on Mr. Peverada's membrane than the average woman walking in heels. And besides, John, the entire point is to park INDOORS, not on the roof.]

3. The way the loops need to be configured cause a safety hazard for
motorcycles. - If an automatic gate malfunctions and closes unexpectedly
on a car, damage is limited to the vehicle; however, the same event
could cause personal injury to the driver of a motorcycle.

[ed. comment: Here are some more 'safety hazards': the piss smell in the parking garage stairwell might attract a super-aggressive gang of Africanized feral cats. A light might burn out and create a surplus in the utilities budget. A woman's shoe heel might puncture the protective coating and cause spoilage.]

4. Motorcyclist can drive around the revenue control equipment, avoid
the parking charges.

[ed. comment: It probably would be a terrible thing if low-emission, small vehicles were able to park in this city for free. Only trucks in loading zones, cars with stickers, and people visiting after 6 pm can do that!]

Please let me know if you have any additional concerns.


My bracketed comments might seem snarky, but I actually really admire Mr. Peverada's response. Here's a bureaucrat who is obviously willing to dedicate considerable time and effort in dreaming up some exceptionally creative reasons for preserving the status quo. We obviously have a very imaginative fellow on the city's payroll.

Now, if only we could somehow harness this kind of talent towards solving the city's overbearing transportation costs and budget shortfalls...


Corey Templeton said...

I agree with your comments to Mr. Peverada's reply. Are any private parking garages friendly to scooters/mopeds and the such? Seems like good sense to provide space for these vehicles and make money off of it. I would even pay a small monthly fee (maybe $25)to park my bicycle in the garage across the street instead of hauling it up 4 stories (or letting it be ripped apart if it's chained up on the street).

Kevin Donoghue said...

Did you let John know if you had "any additional concerns?" Seemingly, he welcomed input rather than just lampooning.