Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Online Parking game (part 2)

The other day I parked on the street of Avon, a town adjoining Fontainebleau, not far from Paris. As I was looking for change for the parking meter, a woman of a certain age stopped to tell me that parking was free in August. I pointed out to her that there was no mention of that on any signs, but she insisted that she knew that fact for sure, at least for Fontainebleau. Convinced that it was worth taking a chance, I left my car without paying anything for the meter.

I had many reasons for that.

First, since parking in August was free in Fontainebleau, and since Avon was essentially the same urban center, that was probably true in Avon as well.

Second, even if parking was not free in Avon, in August so many people are on vacation that the parking enforcement officers are probably also on vacation, like everybody else, and the few remaining ones must not have time to check every parking spot every day.

Third, even if I was given a ticket, I could always contest it and argue that I was in good faith, since I naturally assumed that the Fontainebleau August rule also held for Avon.

Fourth, even if that argument did not convince and my ticket stuck, it's not that expensive anyway (less than 20 euros -- parking for the day cost 2.30 euros).

Fifth, even if I got a ticket, if I decided not to pay it, I have heard that these outstanding tickets are not being chased from one region to a different region. What are the odds that they would go to the French consulate of Boston to find my folder? Nil.

Thus, with five excellent reasons not to put money in the parking meter, I left my car for the day with not a worry in the world. In the evening, when I got back, my car was intact and there was no ticket: so far I've only had to appeal to the first or second reasons (I'm still not sure which). Success!


  1. Oh, Claire, I'm disappointed! I was going to comment on your first "Online Parking Game" post, but decided I would that once be less outspoken.

    I've had this battle with my mother who is ever on the lookout for getting away without paying for parking. Parking is one of the prices of car use. It helps pay for road infrastructure and offers a deterrent to driving, encouraging people to instead take transit, walk or bike.

  2. Cora, I pay with stress instead of with dollars.

    Influence works both ways. My resistance offers a deterrent from the government investing in cars.

    Note that parking is actually much easier for the people who use their care everyday: then it's worth it for them to reserve a parking spot. It's the occasional drivers like me who have all the hassle.


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