20
Sat, Jul

The Gig Economy Continues To Break Laws And Block Bus Stops

LOS ANGELES

TRANSPO LA - The Gig Economy corporations and their drivers and vehicles engage in lawlessness and obstructing transit riders. The drivers continuously park in places they are not allowed: curbs painted red, crosswalks; and in front of bus stops.  

Repeatedly, ride share drivers park along red curbs, with red curbs, of course, meaning no parking. This is a basic law of driving and is part of any driving manual. Yet, on a daily occurrence, ride share drivers will stop at a red curb without concern for other drivers. It is selfish. 

They will park in crosswalks, an obvious infraction of the law. It is unlawful, dangerous for pedestrians who could be hit by the ride share driver or if we need to step around the illegally parked vehicle which put us in harm’s way of other traffic. 

For transit riders like me, a bus stop is the center of our rides. It is our designated spot, a place where it was planned for our benefit and safety. Yet, gig economy employees routinely disregard the law of no parking whatsoever and steal the curb space specifically dedicated to buses. When gig economy employee drivers, or any driver, park at a bus stop, they force the bus driver to make a last-minute change. They cannot park where they are instructed and expected to do for the safety of bus passengers entering or departing the bus. This puts bus riders in awkward and dangerous situations. 

These infractions against the driving laws happen daily, and the question is, “Where are the police to ticket them?” 

Buses ride high, much higher than sidewalks and curbs, so in normal circumstances the rider steps up into the bus, or down from the bus. The front doors of buses are constructed so that the entrance is not as high as the back exit. But, to quickly move people onto, and off the bus, riders are encouraged, and expected to depart using the back doors. Recorded announcements inside buses state as much. 

But when the bus cannot pull alongside the curb because the bus stop is blocked by the vehicle of a gig economy employee, the bus stops on the street away from the curb. The front entrance becomes higher, and the back exit becomes even higher when the landing is not a sidewalk but a street. 

The young can easily navigate this, but with the aging population this becomes a major obstacle. It can be dangerous particularly when exiting the back door: it is a long step down to the street and it must be carefully navigated. As the knees age they lose flexibility and strength, so the bus rider must carefully and slowly lower themself down from the bus. This is not easy and has the potential of a missed exit with a slip, a fall, or a knee giving out. 

The transactions between rideshare drivers and their clientele are short, but the transaction of gig economy food service is much longer. 

Once gig economy food drivers are illegally parked, they leave the vehicle and go to the restaurant or store to pick up food to deliver to their clientele. Likewise, the delivery of the food can include illegal parking. 

The gig economy rideshare driver with a conscious illegally parked at a bus stop will move when a bus arrives. But when the illegally parked vehicle is empty because the driver has left to pick up food, or deliver it, it is a major gig economy nuisance. 

It seems the gig economy companies encourage these kinds of driving behaviors. Is it because the rate of reimbursement is so meagerly that the gig economy companies rely upon others to break the law for their profit? 

During the COVID pandemic shutdown, some cities, including Los Angeles, relaxed the enforcement of illegal parking, particularly for the gig economy. Now that the pandemic is thankfully over, it is time for cities to return to ticketing illegally parked vehicles. 

This is a safety issue for pedestrians and bus riders, and when others see that illegal parking is no longer allowed, better driving habits may spill to other driving laws when it is known there are repercussions for nuisance and dangerous driving. 

The relaxation of parking enforcement may have a spillover affect towards driving in general. The gig economy driving employees see they are not getting ticketed for illegal parking, and a mindset falls in that if those laws don’t apply, then other driving laws don’t apply. Indeed, any driver repeatedly seeing illegally parked vehicles that aren’t ticketed can assume driving laws do not matter, and that mindset leads to risky and bad driving. 

Vehicle accidents and deaths have increased since the pandemic and have pedestrian deaths and injuries. Should cities return to a regular presence of parking enforcement seen, and felt, by all, a more careful driving mindset may return to the streets.

(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native, a composer whose works have been performed nationally, and some can be found here.  He is the past President of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra and Marina del Rey Symphony. His dedication to transit issues is to help improve the transit riding experience for all, and to convince drivers to ride buses and trains to fight air pollution and global warming. He is an instructor at Emeritus/Santa Monica College and a regular contributor to CityWatchLA.)