Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Car2Go vehicles just keep getting parking tickets

April 18, 2012 - 10:13 AM
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(Photo: John Hendel)

Car2Go launched about three weeks ago, so why haven't District officials realized they aren't supposed to give Car2Go members parking tickets for settling down in metered and residential spots? The Austin-based car-sharing company has paid a lot of money for a city agreement to avoid this, after all. Car2Go vehicles still shouldn't park in rush-hour lanes or where it's prohibited for street sweeping, but standard metered spots? Those should be fine.

I was strolling down 12th Street SW yesterday afternoon, just south of the Smithsonian Metro station, when I spotted one of the Car2Go cars, and of course it had a ticket. The car is a few feet away from a parking meter.

Shortly after the launch, Car2Go told members not to worry about the tickets and just put them in the dashboard as the District Department of Transportation admitted giving some tickets in error. I've continued to hear isolated reports of tickets, and I suspect a lot more time will need to pass before D.C.'s ticketing officers learn all the Car2Go-specific rules. As if ticketing officers didn't already have enough to keep track of. Local Yelp reviews show mixed reactions, including one reviewer who praises Car2Go but then includes a photo of a ticketed Car2Go and adds, "you will see that the revenue robots at D.C. Parking Enforcement are still too blood thirsty." But both the city and the car-sharing company have been aware of the concern, so I suspect and hope it will work itself out in time.

How does the service seem to be doing otherwise? A lot of enthusiasm and minor frustration fills the social media channels. I hear many District residents, friends and strangers alike, say they're thinking about joining, if they haven't already. To join is a $35 application fee (waived with the promo code "Capital") and then it's just 38 cents a minute.

The distribution of cars strikes me, so far, a pro and a con. The huge pro is that Car2Go cars have ended up everywhere, in several wards and in ways that are more convenient for many members. They stand out, and I've always noticed when one is parked in front of Howard University or cruising through Mount Pleasant. The downside is the Capital Bikeshare Problem — usage patterns skew the availability of cars depending on the time of day. "Third day using @car2godc and noticing the evening migration of cars out of the city core leaving certain areas carless," Thom Wallace wrote last night.

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