Columnist Mary Schmidt at the Chicago Tribune offers a contrarian—and in my view, sensible—take on Chicago's parking meter lease:
[I]'m sorry, I like the new parking boxes. [...]
It's easier to find a spot to park. It's easier to pay.
Remember back in ye olde parking days -- just a few months ago -- when you reached your destination only to discover in a panic that you had no quarters? I once found myself kneeling on the greasy pavement, groping under the car for the precious coin that got away.
Remember circling block after block looking for an empty spot? Remember all the broken meters? Remember the parade of eyesores?
It's true -- this is a common complaint -- that now you have to walk up the block to get to the box and then walk back.
Fellow citizens, please. Chicago prides itself on being tough. We can't handle a 10-second walk?
It's also true that parking costs more now. That hurts. But cheap parking isn't all good. It encourages people to drive and so discourages them from taking public transportation.
And now, if you pay by credit card, you can track your parking expenses on your monthly statement. Nothing like coming face to face with that number to get you on the bus or "L" or on your bike.
Around town, a few old parking meters still stand, wearing little notices: "Meter Remains as a Courtesy to Cyclists." They're the new hitching posts, and already they look like the strange artifacts of a parking era to which it's time to say good riddance.
For more on Chicago parking meters, see my recent article here.