Much to the delight of many, the wheel boot — that clunky, supposedly unremovable device that gets clamped to your wheel when you violate a parking law — disappeared from the streets of New York City in the mid-1990s. Now, after nearly 20 years, it's about to make a comeback.
The New York Times reports that the Michael Bloomberg administration, currently also under fire for their Commie-Nazi plot to let people ride bicycles, is reviving the boot after they've been gone for close to two decades.
The boot had been phased out in favor of outright towing, but city officials plan to replace that with booting by the end of the summer because it will supposedly reduce the amount of time a driver is without their car and cut down on how long it takes for the city to get paid. From the Times:
Though city marshals, sheriffs or the police will still be allowed to tow cars violating certain city parking rules — including cases where a car is blocking traffic or creating another safety hazard — the wheel clamp is expected to predominate.
The new system will rely on a “self-releasing boot,” developed by the company PayLock, which secured a sole-source contract with the city last year.
Drivers who pay by phone are given a code to unlock the boot on site, the city said. They are then allotted 48 hours to return the boots to one of about a dozen locations in the city. Residents can also request that someone else come to remove the boot. If the city receives no contact from a car’s owner, the vehicle will be towed 48 hours after the boot is placed.
The story also has an interesting history of booting in New York, if such a topic can truly be considered interesting. It began in the 1980s and emerged as a symbol of "law and order" in a time when that city was a far more rough place to live than it is today. But booting came with its own share of problems, including the fact that drivers were often able to remove them fairly easily. (Times writer Matt Flegenheimer gets bonus points here for mentioning the Simpsons episode where Homer's car gets booted in New York.)
Towing companies in New York have expressed concern about their role in the new program, but they're expected to be looped into it at some point.
And of course, this wouldn't be a New York story if some degree of corruption wasn't involved. One PayLock employee was was arrested in February and charged with receiving a bribe after authorities said he took $100 from an offender.
What do you guys think is better? Booting or towing?
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