If you haven’t heard, parking is getting more expensive in downtown Minneapolis.
You might not have heard about this if you have obstructions in your ear canal. (They say you shouldn’t use a Q-tip, but c’mon: everyone does. If they don’t want us to use a Q-tip, it shouldn’t fit in our ear. It’s like baby carrots, which fit your nostrils perfectly.)
What? Sorry; lost the plot there. Parking. It used to be cheap, depending on where you found a spot. Fourteen days for a buck fifty! Or something like that.
Now it’s $9 for 15 minutes, it seems. Many meters where you could park for eight hours are now limited to two, which is the city of Minneapolis’ way of saying, “Do what you need to do, then get out of here.”
You could park at a ramp, which is more expensive, unless you choose the Early Bird Special — in before 4 a.m., only $8 per quarter-hour! Fine print: You must be an actual bird.
Ramps, however, have a problem you don’t get with on-street parking. If you park on the top floor with no cars around, and return a few hours later with no other cars on the floor, there will be a ding in your door.
Of course, instead of parking, you could take the bus, which you suspect is what they really want you to do. Or live downtown, and perhaps parasail to your destination, if you live high up.
Or take a scooter! We’re only a few weeks away from seeing heaps of scooters suddenly appear, a sign of spring like the swallows returning to Capistrano, except the swallows don’t knock you down as you’re strolling down the sidewalk. Oh, they might try, but that’s when you pull the baby carrot out of your nose and throw it, hard.
Well, that’s what the locals told me. You won’t find it in any guidebooks.
Anyway, the point is that the scooters are annoying for everyone who is not on a scooter. If you are watching them pass, you think: “You look like a dork who believes human skulls are made from cast iron.” If you are the one on a scooter, though, you feel liberated and free as a bird, without the barrage of baby carrots.
Bottom line: There’s no good reason the meters should last for eight hours. We can agree on that, right? Confining the stays to shorter periods helps people find spots, but that runs up against a troublesome element: human nature.
When looking for a parking spot, you curse every single car that’s already found one. “Oh, you think you’re so special, don’t you?” When you come across an empty spot, it is yours by birthright, and thou shalt have it for as long as ye desire.
Four hours would seem to be a nice compromise. It would also help if the city didn’t put red hoods over half the parking meters every day for some mysterious reason; it’s as if they committed a crime and we’re supposed to shun them.
If parking gets tight, it’s a sign of civic success: Parking lots are an eyesore, and more and more vacant asphalt wastelands, however useful, are being replaced by buildings. So hurray for growth, and a sad trombone for people who wanted to park for eight hours. You wish City Hall would have listened to the concerns of people who want to park more than two hours, but maybe they have waxy buildup.
Repeated Q-tip usage can do that.