BBC Parking Mad
Imagine the scene. Masked bikers riding through the streets of London in determined pursuit of their quarry. They have names such as Bald Eagle, Parking Warrior and Coco and cover their faces with V For Vigilante masks and communicate via on walkie-talkies. But don’t be afraid, they’re on your side – and if you drive a car, they may have already saved you a £130 fine.
Meet the NoTo Mob, a group dedicated to fighting what they see as unfair parking tickets and charges. During the week they’re normal blokes (and the odd woman). Steve Baker, aka Bald Eagle, is a legal adviser from north London. Graeme Jones, aka Parking Warrior, is an auditor from south London.
But on Saturdays they come together for a common cause. They follow council CCTV cars, or “spy cars”, then stand nearby holding signs to warn drivers about the presence of a CCTV vehicle and potential fine if they break the rules.
Motorists pull over, wave or give the thumbs up in gratitude. Complete strangers have been known to hug them in support.
Headlight flashing refers to the act of either briefly switching on the headlights of a car, or of momentarily switching between a headlight’s high beams and low beams, in an effort to communicate with another driver or drivers. This signal can be intended to convey a variety of messages, including a warning to other drivers of road hazards or of speed traps, and it can also be a form of aggressive driving. The legality of headlight flashing varies by jurisdiction.
Florida cops have made a practice of ticketing drivers who warn others about speed traps by flashing their lights, despite uncertainty as to whether state law actually does prohibit such flashing. Now a judge in Sanford, Fla. has ruled that Ryan Kintner of Lake Mary not only was within his rights under state law when he flashed his headlights, but was engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment.
Loyola law professor Jessica Levinson says police often have to stretch to find a legal reason to go after drivers who warn of speed traps.
“It feels like there’s something unfair about the cops saying, you’re not allowed to tell people where we are,” she said.
But in the era of the smartphone, the tussle between police and drivers is moving beyond headlight flashing. Now, there’s an app for that.
It’s called Trapster – a free smartphone app that now has 16 million users who can report and map speed traps, red light cameras, and other road hazards for all other Trapster users to see.
Trapster – “Users submit speed traps, enforcement cameras, and road hazards, that then alert all Trapster users in the area. A high-tech version of flashing your headlights to alert drivers of potential road hazards.”
Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT) and to prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.