I got kicked out of a downtown parkade on Thursday evening.
Zombie rehearsal didn’t start until 6:30, so Shan and I made plans to meet at Pacific Center after work. We had a craving for Vietnamese food, and I wanted to check out the new Sephora store, so we made plans to relocate our scooters to the mall parking lot and meet up for deliciousness.
Shan managed to get past the ticket machine, but I had no such luck. Lola couldn’t trigger the sensor, and as I wiggled back and forth trying to get the machine to spit out a ticket, someone came over the intercom:
“You can’t park here.”
“No motorcycle parking; you’re not allowed in here. You have to leave.”
“Where exactly am I supposed to go, then? There’s no street parking at this time of day.”
“I don’t know, but you can’t park here. I’ll open the gate but you have to leave the parkade.”
I tried to argue some more, but I was ignored. The gate rose, but instead of going to the exit, I went to find Shan’s scooter. She wasn’t there, so I called her and explain the situation: although we were willing to pay for parking and took up less room than a single car, we were not allowed to be in the lot because we did not have four wheels.
Shan came back down, and we prepared to leave. On our way out, we saw a security guard striding purposefully and looking for something – me, we assumed. It had been some time since I was told to leave, and I hadn’t been by either ticket booth yet and heaven forbid I sully their parkade with my inferior two wheels. We pulled up to the booth to be ignored by the three people standing around chatting, until I called out and asked for them to lift the gate. One of them gestured for us to drive around it, and turned back to the conversation. Awesome.
We drove around the block while I swore, looking for someone else to park. Since it was barely 5:30pm and still rush hour, we were out of luck – there was no street parking to be found anywhere, and no other lots nearby.
We were fully intent on spending money in Pacific Center that evening on both dinner and some shopping, but because they would not allow us to park in the only option we had, we decided to go elsewhere – I don’t have time and shouldn’t have to convince businesses to take my money.
It really kills me that Vancouver is so proud of itself for being a “green” city. We pat ourselves on the back and make fancy websites so we’ll look good to other cities, but it’s a total joke. Okay, they opened a bike lane on the Burrard Bridge and they expanded the Sky Train lines. How progressive; giving people a choice. We’re apparently the number 2 city in the WORLD for the very model of green and clean living, which is just ridiculous.
One of the reasons I ride a scooter is to try to minimize my carbon footprint. I produce a great deal less CO2 per year because of my scooter, and it really bothers me that I am actively persecuted instead of lauded for my choices. Motorcycle parking in downtown Vancouver is a joke: two narrow allotments with 2-hour limits. Very few lots offer discounted rates for two-wheeled vehicles. We’re not allowed (and shouldn’t) park at bicycle racks. We can’t park on sidewalks. There is nowhere for us to go.
Other cities are doing their part to encourage people to consider alternate forms of transportation. In Toronto, scooters are allowed to park on sidewalks. In San Francisco, entire blocks of the downtown core are reserved for motorcycles and scooters at $0.25 an hour, for a maximum of ten hours. In Vancouver, we get hit and manhandled and ticked and towed. People take it upon themselves to move our scooters out of their way when we have every right to be there. Parking authorities tell us to give up and get cars, because we’ll never be allowed to park in peace. Distracted drivers run into us, then yell as though we’re the ones in the wrong.
I’m willing to pay for the same rights as a car owner, but I take up less than ¼ of the space. I suppose safe parking is a privilege and not a right, but first I have to find a lot that’ll let me in.
It seems the only way to get any respect in this city is to line the transit coffers or buy myself an SUV.