An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Parking Meter Roulette

Different parking meters in different areas have different rules. But in looking for parking in Clarendon recently, I've noticed how wildly different parking rules can be, not just from one block to another, but from one space to the next.

On Clarendon Day I was trying to find a spot that I could stay in for the two-hour shift I was working at the CRM booth. I ended up pulling into three different spots -- all with different rules. The most egregious spread came on the meters to the right -- one a 1-hour meter in effect from Monday-Saturday, the other a 12-hour meter in effect from Monday-Friday. Driving around in traffic, of all that was impossible to know until you pulled into the spot.

The next week I hit the Clarendon post office to get my first-ever passport. The meter on the left is 8am-6pm while the meter on the right is 8am-5pm.

Why is The Green Miles so sensitive to these subjects? Because he got nailed with a parking ticket in Rosslyn a couple of years back at a spot where the parking meters had been changed but the parking street signs hadn't. The signs still said "metered parking Mon-Fri" but on the meters the "Fri" had been covered with a "Sat" sticker. Weak.

So how can you know what you're getting into before pulling in? While the
Arlington County Parking Meter Guide has plenty of information, it doesn't make things much simpler. It's six printed pages long. You could try to memorize the parking meter color codes, but there are five of those.

I know the parking planners are just trying to keep cars turning over fast in high traffic areas while letting workers and residents park longer in less-busy spots. But it can certainly make parking a pain.

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