Sir: This morning I had occasion to drive out to one of those urban neighborhoods where the only place to park is on the street, and so I parked on the street, which was the only place to park. Then I had to walk half a block in the wrong direction to the parking kiosk, where I had to wait behind three other motorists who had parked in the same block, and then I had to enter my license-plate number twice, because the first time I had forgotten to push the green button to start the process of accepting my license-plate number, and then I had to wait while the kiosk processed the license-plate number, and then I had to plunk in the money for the parking, and then I had to wait while the machine processed the money and declared to me that it had indeed received the money, and then I had to walk the half-block back past my car, and then another half-block to my destination.
Yes, I thought, this is a lot of work for the ordinary motorist who merely wishes to stop his car at the curb and spend his money at a taxpaying business along that particular street. But it is all necessary, so that we may enjoy the many benefits of metered parking, as enumerated in my monograph, The Many Benefits of Metered Parking, and in the companion volume, A Number of Benefits of Metered Parking Which Had Not Occurred to Me When I Published My First Book on Metered Parking, the two books together constituting what I like to call a digraph.
And then I was suddenly struck by an inspiration. Fortunately there was only minor bruising of my left cheek. Suppose, I thought in my inspired state, the parking kiosks were individualized. Suppose, instead of having to walk half a block to a kiosk with a complex and unergonomic keypad, the happy motorist found an individual parking kiosk right at the individual space where said individual motorist parked.
How would this be accomplished? Obviously one would need some sort of small and inexpensive timing device, activated by the insertion of money. It could be located on a post or pole next to the parking space on the street, at about the ideal height for the average human being to manipulate it. The timer could be electronic, but if the use of electric power is a difficulty, it could be a clockwork, constructed on the same principle as an ordinary kitchen timer. This would have certain obvious advantages over the current system: among others, it could be arranged to provide a visual display of the time paid for at that particular space on the street, counting down until no time is left; it would also be possible for the motorist to add to that time before it has run down (which is impossible with the current centrally located parking kiosks), thus encouraging parked motorists to patronize more businesses on the same street and causing more tax money to flow to the city government.
Since it is a device to make the use of metered parking simpler and more efficient, it might be called a parking measurer or parking logger or some such thing. But I will leave those details to the marketing professionals who will doubtless be called upon to introduce the invention to the public.
I am not an idle visionary or head-in-the-clouds dreamer. I realize that such individualized parking time recording and display devices (I just thought of this name for them) may not be possible given the current state of technology. But clockwork technology is improving all the time, and in the near future it will certainly be possible to mount a coin-operated timing device on a pole. When that day comes, I hope the city parking authority will give serious consideration to my proposal.
——Sincerely, “Mad Mark” Markovitz, Downtown.