Universe: “Seriously, Don’t Drive Downtown”

I should have known better, and I’ve been kicking myself about it. Why did I drive downtown instead of taking my bike? I can’t really explain it but I know I won’t anymore.

A few months ago I signed up for a new service here in Vancouver: car2go, brought to you by Mercedes Benz. The idea is simple: within a specified area (basically the “inner city” of Vancouver), there are a number of Smart Cars available for short-term rentals. You pay by the minute, pick one up whenever you need it, and drop it off anywhere within the specified area. So far, so good – it’s a useful service to fill the gap between the bus and a Modo Co-op car.

The problem arises when you head downtown, because as everyone knows, it’s always tougher to park downtown. car2go has a few reserved spots downtown but they are not unlimited.

Fast forward to a typical February day in Vancouver: grey, a bit chilly, and a bit drizzly. I had a meeting scheduled downtown for 11:00 am and I was preparing to leave the office at 10:30 – enough time to pedal leisurely and show up to the meeting nice and relaxed. But at 9:50 I got a phone call saying the meeting time was mixed up and I was supposed to be downtown at 10:00 instead! In my panic I decided I’d be better off picking up a Smart car — “no worries”, I thought: there’s a reserved parking spot right outside the meeting location, and there happens to be an available car right outside my work building.

But I hadn’t counted on the spot downtown being taken! “Some worries”, I thought: I’ll be delayed, but there’s a parking lot a few blocks away with four reserved spots; I’ll just take one of them and walk briskly to the meeting. So I drove there, parked the car, and speed-walked to my meeting. By now it was 10:30 and I was frustrated, anxious to make the meeting, and a bit “warm”, let’s call it, from speed-walking. At that moment I promised myself that from then on I’d just bike to meetings and arrive with a smile on my face instead of a scowl, park right outside the building without scrambling, and feel a whole lot better about life.

But it seems the universe wanted to make sure I didn’t forget that lesson because this week I got an email from car2go hammering the point home.

We are writing to inform you that vehicle XXXXXX which you drove from 09:54 to 10:19 on February 10, 2012 was parked illegally, “MP in transient area”. The vehicle was ticketed by EasyPark. The resulting parking fines are your responsibility per the car2go Membership Terms and Conditions.

We have attached a copy of the parking citation. The fine total of $100 will be charged along with a $25+hst processing fee for this transaction. A total charge of $128 will be assessed against the credit card you have on file with car2go in 1 business day.

Turns out the designated spots in that parking lot were all taken and I had inadvertently “parked in an additional spot that was not designated to car2go cars.”

OK, Universe. I get the point. From now on I’m taking my bike downtown.

“No Parking” image courtesy of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.


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