Friday, December 28, 2012

Parking




The convenience of riding a scooter in Taipei is matched by the ease of parking.  In most parts of the city, parking is free. In the downtown core, along the major east-west and north-south avenues and around MRT stations, the city charges NT$20 (US$0.66)to park a motorcycle. That's NT$20 per STAY in the picture below.

Parking officers on bicycle or foot cruise the areas under their jurisdiction and issue tickets from an electronic device that records the vehicle’s license plate number and the location and time at which the ticket was issued. Owners of ticketed vehicles have 7 days to pay the original amount, easily done by taking the ticket to a convenience store, before a higher fine is applied.

The tickets are attached to scooters by looping them around some part of the scooter and stapling the ends together. Typically, one sees these tickets on the rail behind the seat or on one of the mirrors attached to the handlebars.

Occasionally, you’ll see scooters with many tickets on them. These have apparently been abandoned, and eventually such scooters have stickers attached to them. These explain that the scooter will be impounded unless they are moved before a given date.


Drivers who park their scooters in unauthorized places, such as along a section of road with a red line painted, risk having their vehicle given a ticket of NT$600 or towed to an impound lot. To retrieve a scooter from such a lot, one must call the telephone number that the drivers of tow trucks scrawl on the pavement where the scooter had been parked. Via that telephone number, the drivers will learn where their scooter has been towed. 

To avoid such fines, most drivers try to park in authorized spaces when they are available. Sometimes this requires them to jam their scooters into the space between two other scooters. As long as a scooter is parked within a legal parking area, it will not receive a ticket. If the wheels are just outside of a parking space, a ticket for illegal parking can be expected.


The fact that most scooters are of uniform shapes and sizes makes it fairly easy to park them. When a gap between two other scooters is found, the driver can try to slide the scooter in between them. If the space is insufficient, the driver will wrestle one or both of the surrounding scooters to the side in order to make space. The result is that parked scooters generally lean against the ones parked on either side, sometimes making them difficult to extricate when a driver wishes to ride away. 

One casualty of this dense parking is that mirrors are occasionally broken off. They can be replaced easily and inexpensively at any of Taipei’s thousands of motorcycle repair shops for between NT$300 and NT$500. The scratches on the plastic body panels of scooters are another effect of this approach to parking. Unless one’s scooter has a custom paint job, or was recently purchased, no one really pays too much attention to scratches. They are just a fact of life.