My parents go to the hospital so frequently that the last time I escorted them, they carefully coached me in how to avoid getting a parking ticket. It’s energy well-spent, given the frequency with which parking tickets are handed out around hospitals from York region, to Ottawa, from Newfoundland to Australia.
Whether you are visiting, attending a doctor’s appointment, or rushing there for an emergency, parking tickets are a common part of the hospital experience, along with high parking fees, shortages of spots, and meters which expire in short intervals.
A recent piece in the Toronto Star highlighted how frequently hospitals visitors are stung by the green hornets here in Toronto. The streets around hospital made up half of the top ten sites for parking tickets in 2007. The Ottawa Citizen found similar patterns in their examination of the issue in 2007. The Vancouver Sun also found the same, to a lesser degree.
Some places in the world are trying to find a solution. Scotland now offers free parking at most of its hospitals, and Wales is considering the same, while recognizing the complexity of such an endeavor, and wondering how to discourage “freeloaders” without setting up another expensive bureaucratic layer.
Some argue, perhaps fairly, that if you own a car, you need to take responsibility for it. Residents who live near hospitals have to put up with slackers on a daily basis. It must grow tiresome.
However, hospitals are one of the likeliest places in the city where some administrative discretion should be used. People attending hospitals are often ill, or escorting those who are, and they have little control over the sorts of delays they may face once inside.
I have my bias in answer to the question: I remember a sweet and random act of parking kindness I received at my local hospital once, when I raced, daughter in my arms, son at my side, into the emergency room. When we left, all safe a few hours later, I realized that I had parked by the entrance and not even noticed the meter by my car. But there sat my car ticket-less.
Someone had put some money into the meter.
Global TV Toronto mapped the same pattern of ticketing around hospitals in this interactive map (October 12, 2011)