Tag Archives: Parking

App will help fight parking tickets


WASHINGTON — There seems to be an app for everything these days, and soon there will be one to fight bad parking tickets.

The app, called Fixed, allows drivers to upload a picture of their ticket, then explain why the ticket shouldn’t have been written. Fixed takes care of the rest.

Fixed is launching first in San Francisco, and the developer hopes to expand to the District.

“A common misconception with parking violations is that they’re black and white. But frequently it’s actually a gray issue. That’s where we’re here to help, to get you off those tickets that are gray issues,” says David Hegarty, co-founder of Fixed.

“We have a team of legal researchers that pour over the parking regulations and ordinances that apply to parking. But what’s clever about our system is that it learns. We have an algorithm to know, for a given type of violation, what are the most common types of errors and what are the most effective defenses. The more tickets we put into the system, the smart the algorithm gets.”

Once a photograph of the ticket is uploaded, the app will asks why the ticket is wrong. It could prompt users to take more pictures, then will forward the information to the legal researchers. Fixed then helps challenge the ticket and write a statement of defense with legal reasons why the ticket should be dismissed.

For nearly a year, WTOP Ticketbuster has profiled the persistent and repeated problems with erroneous tickets written in Washington and the problems adjudicating those tickets at the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

District of Columbia ticket writers issue about two million citations per year, mostly from the Department of Public Works (DPW).

Hegarty says he’s a victim too, that’s why he started the app.

“I was working with my co-founders last November and we were kicking around ideas. One day, I came back to my car and I found two tickets on my windshield. It was frustrating because I just paid four others. I was fuming. But someone told me that I could contest them,” says Hegarty.

“I learned how to contest tickets, all the rules, and I won both cases. I told my friends about this and they suggested to put it into an app, so everyone could do it. That was the genesis for Fixed.”

The app launches the first week of March in San Francisco for Apple and Android phones and will be free to download. There’s a waitlist to join.

Hegarty hopes to expand to Washington, D.C. within the next 18 months, but will make that decision based on demand.

“The demand is so great that we’ve put in a wait list process. The way we’ll determine what cities to expand to next is the number of downloads we have in that city. So my advice to the listeners in D.C. want it to come to the D.C.-area sooner, they should download it and get on the waitlist now,” he says.

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© 2014 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.



Watchdog report: Metro employees cheat the parking system

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – A viewer complaint to ABC7’s Watchdog unit asked us to investigate illegal parking by WMATA employes at the Anacostia Metro Station’s parking garage.

The viewer claimed while she was ticketed for her meter running out, Metro employees were being allowed to cheat the system.

The small parking lot adjacent to the Anacostia Metro parking lot garage is popular with Metro employees. It allows for up to 12 hours of metered parking, but many Metro employees aren’t paying – the meters all read “expired.”

ABC7 made multiple visits, seeing many of the same cars parked for free.

According to the “Metro Employee Parking Policy – Reminder” memo sent to all employees last January and obtained by ABC7 News, “Metro employes must pay the Board-approved parking fees to park personal vehicles at Metrorail stations and Metro parking facilities.”

But what about the parking passes, vests and even a police patch seen on the dash boards of more than a dozen vehicles parked at expired meters?

Employees were told, in writing, those items “do not relieve an employee of the responsibility to pay parking fees and parking meter charges.”

“I work for Metro and I don’t think I should have to pay, period,” says one Metro employee.

Some Metro customers disagree.

“They shouldn’t be cheating the system,” says John Joyce. “I have to pay just like anybody else. I’m a paying customer.”

“I’m definitely paying to park,” says Moses Muldrow. “They should pay to park.”

In a statement to ABC7 News, WMATA spokesperson Dan Stessel says:

“This is an issue that comes up from time to time, and one that requires occasional reinforcement with employees… employees parking their personal vehicles must comply with all applicable parking fees and regulations. I have forwarded the complaint to MTPD who will step up patrols at Anacostia to resolve the issue.”

The transit agency says it also received a complaint from a rider about the situation at the Anacostia parking garage and promised the Transit Police would step up patrols.

On ABC7’s next visit, nearly every Metro employee’s vehicle parked at an expired meter had a $25 citation on the windshield.

Towing company breaking state law by staking out parking lot

WASHINGTON — Towing companies in Maryland are continuing a predatory practice, despite a recently passed law meant to stop it, according to a NBC Washington report.

Legislation went into effect in 2012 prohibiting “spotters.” Those are employees hired by towing companies to stake out a certain location and look for cars they can haul away.

“Somebody who just stands on the street or hides in a garage or building just waiting on someone to walk off the property, one false step, waiting for someone to exceed the limit by one minute,” Eric Friedman, an investigator with Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection, tells NBC Washington.

NBC Washington’s investigative team watched as spotters perused the lots at Blairs Shopping Center in Silver Spring. Signs are posted around the parking lot saying “Walk Offs Will be Towed,” which means drivers can’t park in the lot and leave the property.

Moments after drivers left the property, spotters snapped photos of the car and towed them in many cases. In one instance, the spotters incorrectly identified a man leaving and towed his car though he was legally parked there.

According to Friedman, spotters are most active in areas around shopping malls.

“A lot of consumers don’t realize that somebody is watching them in many cases,” Friedman tells NBC Washington.

NBC Washington reports at least one company, G&G Towing, is suing the state, claiming the law is unconstitutional and oppressive.

Drivers who suspect they have fallen victim to a spotter should report the incident.

Report: Speed cameras reduce crashes, injuries in D.C.


WASHINGTON – A new report from the D.C. Department of Transportation finds that speed cameras are doing a good job at reducing accidents, injuries and slowing drivers down.

DDOT teamed up with engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff to study 295 speed camera locations within the District of Columbia. These include existing, planned and proposed locations for the cameras. According to the executive summary findings, total crashes dropped 16.83 percent and the number of injuries 20.38 percent after cameras were installed.

“Using the analysis results from the speed data analysis and the crash data analysis, as well as reviewing the field assessment results, the team was able to determine the nexus between traffic safety and the speed camera at most locations,” the report finds. “Overall, all of the results supported the nexus between traffic safety and the speed cameras at all 295 existing, planned and proposed locations.”

DDOT Chief Traffic Engineer James Cheeks, who co-authored the report, says the 100 block of Florida Avenue NW is a perf ect example. A camera was installed there in November 2011.

“We noticed people, prior to putting that camera there, would speed to try and go through the signals along that roadway. Now they’re more cognizant of the fact that there’s a park there, kids are crossing, parents are taking their children, there a lot of elderly people walking in the area. So drivers are being more cautious as they drive through that area,” he says.

At each location, engineers compared the number of crashes and the overall speed of drivers to determine the safety impact. Cheeks says drivers do slow down for cameras.

“Speeds were 10 to 15 miles per hour over the speed limit. We put in cameras and we saw the speeds one to five miles over the limit,” he says, although he wishes people would slow down more.

John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs, applauds DDOT’s detailed analysis.

“Given what has befallen the Baltimore automated traffic enforcement programs and the speed camera program in smaller jurisdictions in Maryland, such as Fairmount Heights and Morningside, this report delves into a salient and essential rubric. The nexus between crash sites and incidents data and speed camera location, and most of all, safety for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, school children, seniors and joggers,” he writes in an email to WTOP.

Townsend says he hopes people in Morningside and Fairmount Heights and other small Maryland jurisdictions will read this report and make their goal about safety, not raising revenue.

However, if you look closer at the 3500 Massachusetts Avenue NW speed camera, you’ll notice mixed results bring up an issue hotly debated in automated traffic enforcement. The report finds that while drivers are now traveling much slower than the speed limit, the number of crashes have increased since the camera went up in January 2010. In particular, a spike in the number of rear-end collisions.

Critics point out that such crashes often spike at red light and speed camera locations, when drivers slow down to avoid a ticket, forcing the driver behind to slam on his breaks. The critics add that when you increase rear-end collisions, such cameras are not improving traffic safety.

However, the authors of the report did not come to the same conclusion here.

“The increase in the number of crashes after the installation of the speed camera suggest an outlier and a more detailed safety analysis is needed to determine the cause of an increase in collisions,” says the report .

And yet the conclusion seems to back up the camera.

“The speed data analysis showed the mean and 85th percentile speeds to be lower than the posted speed limit, and the crash data analysis showed elevated number of speed-related crashes at this location. Due to the analysis results along with the specific site characteristics and pedestrian generators, there is a nexus between traffic safety and the speed camera at this location,” the report says.

Critics also point out that while drivers slow down when passing a camera, they often just speed back up once they pass it. So while 85 percent of drivers at 3500 Massachusetts Avenue NW went 12 mph in the 30 mph zone, drivers likely sped up short after passing the camera.

Nonetheless, Cheeks thinks the camera works and hopes that the new stop sign, pedestrian and intersection cameras recently deployed will help make roads safer.

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© 2014 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

132 new D.C. speed cams start ticketing today

traffic calvert 39th (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

WASHINGTON – Today, the 132 newly installed traffic cameras around the District will start issuing tickets.

For the last month, drivers were just getting warnings.

The cameras are part of the Metropolitan Police Department’sStreetSafe initiative to better respond to the safety concerns of D.C. residents.

Read more about automated traffic enforcement on the Metropolitan Police Department’s website. Click here.

See the full map of enforcement camera locations.

The tickets will range from $50 to $300.

Learn more about the breakdown of how many cameras will be deployed to track each offense and the fines associated with those infractions. Click here.

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Parking time limit? Moving car won’t save you in D.C.

Without a residential parking permit, things can get complicated. (WTOP file)
Without a residential parking permit, things can get complicated. (WTOP file)

WASHINGTON – Suppose you find street parking with a two-hour limit. You’re grabbing lunch, picking up groceries and running a few errands.

Halfway through the to-do list, you run back to the car to avoid going over the two-hour limit. But just where can you move it legally? In the District, drivers without a certain permit may need to leave the given ward completely to legally park on the street.

“It doesn’t matter if you come out after two hours and move it to another spot in the zone,” says Mary Cheh, chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment. “You’re still two hours in the entire zone.”

That’s the part many drivers — especially those who live outside the District — may not understand.

Moving a car around the corner, while remaining in the same Residential Parking Permit zone, is a violation and susceptible to a ticket.

The boundaries of the RPP zones coincide with ward boundaries.

“Sometimes people are surprised because they think, ‘Oh my goodness, I only have two hours, so I’ll go out and move it up the block,'” Cheh says. “That won’t count; you’ll still get a ticket.”

The more complicated situation involves parking at locations far apart but in the RPP zone. By the letter of the law, a parking enforcement officer could write a ticket — but District officials say that’s unlikely.

The parking rules aren’t new — they’ve been in place for decades. But the area is attracting thousands of new residents each year, and a full understanding of parking regulations is lacking.

The RPP zones are designed to preserve spaces for drivers in their own neighborhoods. For businesses, parking limits and meters ensure customer turnover. (It’s not lawful to refill the meter after the zone maximum has been reached.)

But that does create complications for people coming from out of town or a different ward — no matter how much they plan to spend in the local economy.

“If you go to a movie, you may very well be there more than two hours,” Cheh says. “If you go for dinner and a movie, you’re certainly going to be there more than two hours.”

Parking is, as ever, a sensitive and polarizing topic. On Wednesday, a council committee heard testimony from District residents who want parking enforcement officers to be more aggressive in writing tickets to drivers who aren’t from the neighborhood.

Conversely, if drivers worry about being ticketed for shopping, playing or even working too long in an RPP zone, they may not come at all, Cheh says.

If I park in an RPP zone without a permit and I move my car to another space after the two-hour limit, will I still get a ticket?

Yes. The two-hour restriction pertains to the entire zone, not just the particular space.

May a District resident of one zone park for more than two hours in another zone?

No. A permit is only valid in the zone for which it has been issued.

How are the RPP zones established?

The boundaries of the eight zones coincide with existing ward boundaries.

Residential Permit Parking Brochure