The system is broken - and we can fix it...

The city of Wilmington is in the process of becoming a truly awesome city - a place where entrepreneurs, artists, educators, and businesses create incredible things.

Since October of 2011, the citizens, business community, arts community, Wilmington City Officials, and others have been engaged in improving the parking and parking enforcement issues in the city of Wilmington.

Huge progress has been made and the direction we are going as a community is extremely positive!

This blog chronicles the efforts of all who helped make this happen...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Can you find the crosswalk?

This one was just sent in:

Last night (probably around 12:30) I returned to my neighborhood and parked on Rodney Street. I could not find parking that was not next to a stop sign, which I was a little wary about, having received one ticket previously for parking near an intersection (that ticket, I received fairly - I had parked after a "do not park after this sign" sign. Dumb). However, the parking spot that I chose yesterday was perfectly legal. As you can see from the pictures, I am parked near but not in the intersection of Rodney and Gilpin, there is no sign that says not to park past the stop sign, and I am a good distance off the curb, without being too far out. As you can also see from the pictures, there is a clearly laid stone crosswalk running parallel to my car up the Rodney street sidewalk, that I think we can all agree I was completely clear of. Let me emphasize again that this crosswalk crosses Gilpin street only (at Rodney).

Finally, you should be able to see from the picture that there is no depression in the sidewalk on the other side of Rodney street from my car; my point being that such a dip could reasonably be called a crosswalk. The curb is uniformly raised and there's no indication that pedestrians are meant to cross Rodney at this point (though, again, there is a clear crosswalk path running perpendicular to it across Gilpin). As there is no curb next to where my car is parked (only grass) and no stone pathway pointing across Rodney street, it is clear that there is no evidence of a crosswalk on either side.

So, what is my ticket for? Well, the violation description is "on sidewlk/crosswlk." However, as we can see from the picture, I am several inches off any grass or marked crosswalk. In the comments, the officer wrote "on crosswalk." It is clear to me at this point that the ticket was written either mistakenly or carelessly. I looked into the city code and found this section:

Sec. 37-223. - Prohibited in specified places.
(a) It shall be unlawful for the driver of a motor vehicle to stop, stand or park such vehicle in any of the following places, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, in order to comply with the directions of a police officer or traffic control sign or signal, or while operating in accordance with rules and regulations specifically authorized by the department of public works applicable to coaches and buses:
(1) Within an intersection. A driver found liable for a violation of this subsection shall be subject to and liable for a civil penalty in the amount established at Level 5.
(2) Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection. A driver found liable for a violation of this subsection shall be subject to and liable for a civil penalty in the amount established at Level 3.
(3) On a crosswalk. A driver found liable for a violation of this subsection shall be subject to and liable for a civil penalty in the amount established at Level 3.


My ticket says that I was in violation of item (3) - that I was on a crosswalk. Well, we've already established that that's not correct. However, item (2) looks pretty interesting. Of course I was within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection; I was within two feet of one. This means that I, and the person who was parked within inches of my rear bumper when I chose my spot last night, were in violation, as well at least one or possibly two cars on each side of each corner of both streets at the intersection (my neighborhood is often parked bumper to bumper). Of the three stop signs at the intersection, at least one (I didn't check the away-facing stop sign on Gilpin this morning) does not have a sign preceding it that says "No parking past this point," and the one I know of that is accompanied by that sign, it's not clear whether that sign is an attempt to let drivers know about item (2) above, or whether there's another reason it's there specific to that corner. If those signs are related to item (2) above, why are they not at every corner? Perhaps because not every intersection is a crosswalk? Who could say, besides the Wilmington parking officer who issued the ticket this morning? Certainly not many of my neighbors have any idea, or they wouldn't park so close to the intersections.

My point here is, the law needs to be more clear and more uniformly applied, or the city's parking enforcement department needs to be prepared to give drivers the benefit of the doubt, since the law is questionable and the tickets are even more so. I certainly hope that the WPD will grant my appeal, because I obviously was not in a crosswalk, but on the other hand, it is clear to me from anecdotal evidence that they are largely uninterested in clarifying their code or correcting their status as a total nuisance to people who live, work and drive in Wilmington.

1 comment:

  1. I also received a parking ticket on North Rodney Street. My ticket said that I was in violation of Section 37-223 of the city code, and it said "within 20 feet of a crosswalk." I looked up the city code hoping, in vain, to find a line that said it must be a marked crosswalk. But, it only says crosswalk. I appealed to the parking division, arguing that there are no signs posted about that ordinance, the cars on the 3 other corners that were parked like I was did not get tickets, nor did the person who parked behind me, being as they were also within the 20 foot distance. I even went as far as to include the length specifications of my vehicle to prove that my car is less than 20 feet long and that the car behind me was within the 20-foot zone as well. Additionally, the ticket said that I was parked in front of 1600 North Broom Street, even though I was parked on Rodney Street. I felt that this error in the ticket would invalidate it. In the response I received, I was told that I was "within 20 feet of a crosswalk," and to please pay the fine within 10 days. If I had known this blog existed then, I would have taken a picture and sent it in. It probably won't be long until I get another questionable parking ticket, so you won't have to wait long.