Signs Steer Drivers Away from Hidden Fire Hydrant: Fixer

Update:

The city put up no-parking signs on either side of a fire hydrant hidden behind bushes on the south side of Erskine Ave., to warn drivers away from parking in front of it. Jack Lakey/Toronto Star
The city put up no-parking signs on either side of a fire hydrant hidden behind bushes on the south side of Erskine Ave., to warn drivers away from parking in front of it. Jack Lakey/Toronto Star

The city finally seems to be doing something about hydrants that can’t be seen from the driver’s seat.

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In March 2008, the City of Toronto boosted the cost of parking within 3 metres of a fire hydrant from $30 to $100 and the City has been collecting the fines ever since.  Problem is, the City isn’t going far enough to highlight to motorists who are parking that there is a fire hydrant nearby.  They launched a red curb pilot project downtown in July 2013 (which is suppose to last about 6 to 8 months) , where the curb is painted red (indicating that there is a fire hydrant at that parking location) – so there has been an effort, but that effort hasn’t gone far enough.

It’s amazing what two small signs can do to keep drivers from stumbling into a parking ticket trap.

We’ve been writing about the predatory practice of tagging vehicles with $100 tickets for parking within three metres of a hydrant that can’t be seen from the street, which never fails to enrage the victims.

Parking enforcement officers know the hydrants that are hidden by bushes and other obstructions, and routinely pad their statistics by patrolling them closely and issuing as many tickets as they can.

But their bosses are capable of showing mercy, as outlined in a column last month about a woman who was ticketed for parking too close to a hydrant obscured by tall weeds.

Red Curb Pilot Project in front of 393 University, south of Dundas St. W and north of Armoury Road. As the picture clearly demonstrates, the yellow fire hydrant is far from the curb and hopefully the red paint on the curb will give motorists that extra notice that they need to avoid the $100 parking ticket associated with this parking infraction. At the end of the pilot project, city council will have to decide if this new concept can be used in front of all the fire hydrants in the city.  The City has almost 40,500 fire hydrants that need to always be accessible in the event that there is an emergency in which they must be utilized.
Red Curb Pilot Project in front of 393 University, south of Dundas St. W and north of Armoury Road. As the picture clearly demonstrates, the yellow fire hydrant is far from the curb and hopefully the red paint on the curb will give motorists that extra notice that they need to avoid the $100 parking ticket associated with this parking infraction. At the end of the pilot project, city council will have to decide if this new concept can be used in front of all the fire hydrants in the city. The City has almost 40,500 fire hydrants that need to always be accessible in the event that there is an emergency in which they must be utilized.

A parking enforcement supervisor who saw our column asked us to put him in touch with her and then cancelled her ticket, a sign that at least some of the people in charge understand it is unfair.

Further evidence of change came in a surprising note from Cisco John, who copied us an email congratulating city officials for putting up no-parking signs in front of a hidden hydrant on Erskine Ave., east of Yonge St.

“I made a complaint about hidden hydrants,” said John. “After writing to the mayor and the city councillor (John Parker), to my amazement, new signs were erected.

“This good news needs to be publicized as other hidden hydrants need to be sign-posted, as they have done on Erskine Ave.”

Often, fire hydrants are set far back from the curb and and are often blocked or cannot be seen by driver's as they park their vehicles.
Often, fire hydrants are set far back from the curb and and are often blocked or cannot be seen by driver’s as they park their vehicles.

He also copied us his original complaint, which includes a series of photos showing a hydrant about 10 metres back from the curb, on private property and hidden by bushes.

After he got a ticket in 2012, John kept an eye on it and figures that parking enforcement was issuing as many as 10 tickets a day to drivers who couldn’t see it, which prompted his complaint.

“Although this does little for my financial loss through paying a parking ticket, I offer my sincere appreciation for your diligence,” he said.

STATUS: We’re checking with Transportation Services to see if it is planning to use signs to mark hidden hydrants on other locations. And if not, why not?

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