Motorcyclist Parks Legally, Still Issued 15 Tickets in 3 Months

The frustration and the fines have mounted over the past 12 weeks for David DePiano. 

Even though the 33-year-old software engineer purchased the required virtual parking permit for his motorcycle and always parks in spaces designated for motorcycles and scooters, he says the Philadelphia Parking Authority has issued him 15 parking tickets totaling $540 since April 1.

“The parking restrictions placed on motorcycles and scooters this year has made parking an extremely frustrating task,” said DePiano, who uses his motorcycle for his approximately 45 minute commute between Malvern in Chester County and Philadelphia's Center City four days a week for about nine months of the year.

The virtual parking permits cost $120 for three months and are only available for motorcycles and scooters. They allow the Philadelphia Parking Authority's enforcement officers to look up motorcycle plate numbers on their handheld devices before issuing tickets.

It is unclear if the tickets being issued to DePiano are due to negligence or technical issues.

DePiano, who is part of a coalition of motorcyclists and scooter drivers, was not speaking on the group's behalf when he voiced his irritation at the PPA board meeting Wednesday.

His aggravation over the fines is valid, according to the authority, which has been working with the coalition to determine the best parking setup for nearly nine months.

“I will admit that as we have gone through this conversation process, everybody has been unclear about what we can and can’t do,” said Richard Dickson Jr., PPA deputy executive director.

But Dickson said clarity is coming soon. 

The PPA has developed a pilot program, which the agency will share with the coalition’s representatives at a closed-door meeting July 2, he said.

“We want to ensure there is adequate parking, at a rate that is reasonable, and that allows them to do what they need to do in the city,” he explained. 

If the coalition agrees with the plan, the authority can implement it immediately, Dickson said. The first step will be distributing written materials detailing the parking regulations to enforcement officers, he said.

“We want to be really clear about these rules,” Dickson said.

DePiano recalled how easy it was to park his Honda 599 in the JFK Plaza last year, when the Philadelphia Parking Authority overlooked the motorcycles and scooters illegally parked on sidewalks and squares in Center City.

“Last year, over 20 motorcycles and scooters parked their bike securely on the plaza,” he said. “They had spots to chain your bike too. Scooters used those a lot.”

The pilot program incorporates locking mechanisms, which reduces the likelihood of theft and creates a barrier between motorcycles and other larger vehicles, Dickson said.

The PPA also plans to roll out a Twitter campaign, similar to an initiative bicyclists used to inform the agency of cars illegally parked in bike lanes, said Sue Cornell, PPA’s senior administrative director.

“People can tweet if they see a car parked in a motorcycle and scooter zone,” she said. “Not that we can send someone out immediately, but I’ll give us an idea of where troubled areas might be.”

Once the pilot program concludes in October, the PPA will evaluate it and listen to the coalition’s feedback to determine if changes are necessary, Dickson said.

“We really needed to be sure that the their voice was heard, as well as all the other people that have a claim on the various spaces throughout the city,” he added. “Everything we do is a balancing act.”

As for DePiano's 15 tickets -- he successfully contested $126 worth of fines.

Dickson said the Authority will look into the remaining $414 against DePiano's vehicle and make adjustments if necessary.

Contact Alison Burdo at 610.668.5635, or follow @NewsBurd on Twitter.

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