Old Parking Meters to Become Bicycle Racks in New York

Muni-Meters will soon become the only way to pay for parking for on-street spots in New York City. Photo by jeanphony.

New York City is removing its last single-space parking meter in Manhattan today, The New York Times reports. Instead of collecting parking fees for individual spots, the New York City Department of Transportation is converting to Muni-Meters that take up less space on sidewalks and have a better record on vandalism.

More interestingly, the old single-space parking meters will be dismantled and the poles will be repurposed as bicycle racks, the NYT reports.

Muni-Meters were first introduced to New York City in 1999 as a pilot project by then-commissioner Wilbur Chapman. Although Muni-Meters were new to New York City, they were standard parking equipment in European cities like Paris and London.

With the disappearance of the single-space parking meters, drivers may never feel the joy of finding a spot with leftover minutes from a previous driver again. “When the car leaves, so does the receipt, so there is no extra time left over for the next driver,” the article reports. But on the positive side for car drivers, the parking meters take with them the rigid lines of parking spaces. In fact, Muni-Meters allow for 10 percent to 15 percent more parking spaces in the city, the article explains. With the old meters being converted to bicycle racks, we can only hope that many of those spaces will be dedicated to bicycles.

Converting the city’s on-street parking spots to Muni-Meters will be a costly project—about $34 million. Each Muni-Meter costs $4,392, eight times the amount of older parking meters. Although costly, Muni-Meters will also provide some relief for street management and preventing vandalism. The article reflects on previous parking meters by explaining that “mechanics working for the city would install paper cups to collect a dollar or so in coins from each of the hundreds of meters they repaired a day. To stem the problem, the city hired private agencies to collect the coins — only to discover that those workers also took an unauthorized cut.”

New York City is not the only city transforming its parking infrastructure to accommodate growing needs and advancing technology. In early 2010, San Francisco started to install sensors for individual on-street parking spaces. These sensors collect data and report the availability on parking spaces to apply varied pricing based on demand. Accordingly, an on-street parking spot in San Francisco can cost from a low $2 an hour to a high of $4 an hour. This data is available to drivers through the program’s website, smartphone applications and will eventually be available through text messaging and 511. Learn more about SF Park here.

Small sensors on the ground record the availability of on-street parking and send the information right to your smartphone. Photo via SF Park.

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