05 November 2010

You’ll never see a parking ticket in St Petersburg Russia!

Closeup of parking violation sticker.

Image via Wikipedia











Not one ticket on a windshield in the last 10 years! 

In America it seemed in the 90’s every actual or imagined violation was written up and punished.  Russian life is free of hawk-eyed enforcers and you are free to do pretty much what you want.  Our life of semi-anarchy and bes-pre-del has both good and bad.

The bad side of no neighborhood enforcement of parking codes is… cars parked up over the curb, blocking pedestrians.  Also cars often block fire zones.  We have had our lovely courtyard view marred with an abandoned car (broken glass, doors half opened) for the last half year.

Parking meters, meter maids, and boys…

Sad that Russian boys can’t enjoy the mindless pleasure we had in Maplewood NJ.  We would walk down a line of meters, hitting them upside-along-the-head, making a succession of mechanical sounds.

Other city boys found almost fully paid spots, waiving people in for a tip.

Or we would mark tires with our own (borrowed from the blackboard) chalk, or erase the mark left by the Meter Maid.

Peter needs parking patrols…

Where are the meter maids, parking wardens, the PEO’s (parking enforcement officers)?

Parking enforcement would bring extra money to the city and bring some order out of parking chaos.

It’s hard to explain what a parking ticket is to people here  The only enforcement visible is an an abrupt fix … the evacuator truck sometimes removes a car on busy roads and you must pay to get it back.  Corruption has found another avenue to play on.

Russian attitudes make change difficult…

Russia in the last few years cancelled elections for mayors and governors, with few exceptions. What the people want is unimportant. The first task of anybody in power is to protect that spot from negative notice or criticism from above.

Best to not try something new.  People half jokingly say…Initiative is punished!  Russian thinking is quick to looks for blame and to deny responsibility. It is better to inherit a slow disaster than to be unsuccessful with new policy.

Russians as a group do not like to give or receive praise on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis as we Americans do by habit. If you often give compliments, you can be viewed as insincere and slightly silly. But they do love medals!

In St Pete, cars are like rabbits!

In 2000 there were 1 million cars registered in St Petersburg.  In 2008 there were 1.5 million.  In 2011, there is 1.7 million projected, which may cause gridlock.  Now  there is a car for every one of 3 people.

But the number of cars in a city seems to have little relationship with how bad the traffic gets.  For instance, Russia overall has 213 cars for each 1000 of population, while America has 842 cars/1000. but the worse traffic jams are in Russia.

Got planning?

The problem seems to be that many east European cities until recently did not do serious traffic planning, and (typical to Russia) suddenly there is a catastrophe or something approaching one.

The forest fires this summer are an example.  The heat (like increasing number of cars) is a given… but the ability to intelligently anticipate the problem was lacking.  Poor planning is unfortunately a marker of Russian thinking.

The parking solution is obvious to a Westerner, but not easily implemented by the top-down, power-vertical city government.  So, if you get a ticket in the USA, smile, it can be the result of good democratic government

Comment on this post about no parking tickets!

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  1. Looks like Moscow will have the Meter Maid in a short while. Thanks for stopping by our blog.

    I wonder if St. Petersburg will follow suit after Moscow tries it out?

    I still have to figure out where to park! :)


  2. If Moscow adds some Meter Maids I bet they will be the best looking in the business. We can roll out our meter maid jokes, cartoons, so it will be a positive for some.

    What's this about the new mayor taking the trolleys and trams away? He'll only see a short term traffic improvement.

    I want to be a tramway driver in my next life.

  3. Funny thing is (and I'm originally from St.Petersburg, living now in USA), that people just park on sidewalks, backyards, everywhere except probably Nevsky Prospect :) -- good or bad -- at least it's some sort of an anarchy still.

  4. You're right, it's a type of anarchy which is sometimes appealing, like the wild West of America years ago. You wouldn't believe the number of cars in St Petersburg... we got caught in propka (traffic jam) on the way to Moskovsky station around 1130 one night! So, things are crazier than ever.


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