If you’ve been following the blog’s Facebook page and/or the Twitter accounts, you most likely have seen my question about how we, both individually and as a society, react to illegal parking in disabled bays. Looking back and the post-history for the blog, I’ve discussed the mentality issues surround the ‘illegal parking issue’ but I don’t think I’ve adequately investigated different society’s reactions to the problem. I’m genuinely interested in how different people deal with a vehicle parked in a disabled bay illegally. At the same time, I’d like to understand what methods your society takes to combat the issue both practically and ideologically.
Leaving aside what we’ve discussed, I think it’s time I tell you how South Africa reacts to the issue as I’ve experienced it. While there are some individuals and organisations (like QASA or UCT’s Traffic Department) who do amazing work to combat the issue, something I’ve seen often at the places I visit are ridiculously low fines and/or the institutions not taking the issue seriously. Take a look at what I see as the three biggest ‘reaction problems’ I’ve experienced in South Africa:
Really low fines
OK, maybe it’s just the places I go to often but I’ve come across places who either issue fines that I think are ridiculously low by comparison to other countries. I can’t speak about anywhere else in South Africa since I’ve only lived in Cape Town but I still think it is worth pointing this out.
I don’t go everywhere in Cape Town so this might not be a complete picture of how it truly is but this is supposed to be my experiences so… yeah. A lot of the places I’ve come across, have a ‘clamp and release’ policy and the release fee is roughly between R150-R500 (the equivalent of $7-$35 or £5-£27 at the current exchange rate). I’ve heard of café bills that are larger. Surely, if the goal is preventing someone from doing this again, the fines should hurt significantly? Or am I unreasonable?
As much as my parents would like me to give in on occasion, I find myself needing to ensure that something tangible takes place to combat the issue. In other words, I become a rather irritating thorn in several people’s sides. I know that I can get a little agro on this but, for obvious reasons, it’s a personal issue and I don’t take kindly to people not taking something like this seriously. So many places I’ve been to in Cape Town don’t take the issue even remotely seriously: I’ve even heard of parking attendants deliberately encouraging this practice on the off-chance the offending party might tip better for the attendant’s looking the other way.
This ‘attitude’ problem is arguably worse than the low fines. While fines may be low at least there is some kind of penalty for doing something like this, right? Wrong. As I’ve mentioned, a lot of places in Cape Town use the ‘clamp and release fee’ policy. This, theoretically, could work well. If the institutions have (a) the mentality and (b) the equipment to implement it. On more than one occasion recently I’ve informed the relevant authorities that a car was parked illegally and provided them with the proof and they said something along the lines of “Yeah well, we don’t have a clamp so…” So what? The signage warning illegal vehicles about being clamped is an empty threat which, in many ways, is worse than having no policy.
Are we alone?
This is a snapshot of the kinds of problems, I know, but they still happen here. Do you, where ever you’re from, experience similar situations? Let me know, I’m truly interested. If not, what kind of policies/practices does the country/city you live in react to this issue? I think we all can, and should, learn from each other. Let me know.