Quick reminder before we get into this story: it is illegal to use your wireless device behind the wheel in the state of California. It is also a really unwise idea to use your phone behind the wheel in a city such as San Francisco, which is packed with bike riders, one-way streets, lots of public transportation (prone to crashing) and aggressive pedestrians who feel that their bodies can somehow resist impact should they be mowed down in the middle of the street. I know this because I've been on both sides as driver and pedestrian and it isn't safe for either, especially with parking-hungry drivers trolling downtown with their eyes glued to their phones.
The system, introduced last month, relies on wireless sensors embedded in streets and city garages that can tell within seconds if a spot has opened up.
Monique Soltani, a TV food and wine reporter, said she and her sister spent 25 minutes on Friday trying to park. “We were praying to the parking god that we’d find a spot,” she said. “If we had the app, we would not have to pray to the parking god.”
City officials acknowledge the potential problem. They are urging drivers to pull over before they pull up the city’s iPhone app, or to do so before they leave home. But the spots can disappear quickly, as any circling driver knows, and for plugged-in motorists in the habit of texting or glancing at the GPS, the urge to use the parking app is certain to mount as the frustration does.
Nathaniel Ford, executive director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said safety could actually improve if drivers quickly found a spot instead of circling and getting frustrated. “I get you off the streets as quickly as possible,” he said.
Is Nat Ford smoking crack? That's a serious question.
As anyone who has ever driven downtown San Francisco can tell you, pulling over isn't an option. One-way streets come with bus lanes and there's no way you're going to get away with double-parking on Bush St in the middle of rush hour just so you can pull up some stupid parking app to check for a spot. Are they serious about this?
I'm convinced this is a conspiracy to ticket more SF drivers and bring in more revenue; get 'em for pulling over, get 'em for using their phones behind the wheel, get 'em for bashing heads in when they see via their iPhone that there's an open spot only to find a family of ugly Europeans in a Zipcar has taken it by the time they get there. Doesn't matter, it's all revenue to them.
Obstructing traffic in San Francisco can earn you a ticket up to $1000, while double parking can get you an $80 ding. Do you mean to tell me that somehow the cash-starved MTA will ignore these violations so drivers can "safely" use their parking app to find a spot?
Reason #624,678,822 I am thrilled to say I no longer live in San Francisco.