Last Tuesday, the Massachusetts State Senate held a hearing on a proposed bill which would permit local municipalities to set aside preferred parking spaces for eco-friendly vehicles. Under the bill, local cities and towns would have the option of creating spots specifically for low-to-zero emissions vehicles like hybrids.
The bill, which has been considered in committee on several occasions prior to Tuesday’s hearing, would amend the current law on emissions standards set up by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection by adding a new paragraph stipulating that “any city or town...may further regulate the parking of vehicles by restricting certain areas...for the parking of any vehicle bearing a distinctive plate identifying such vehicle as a low emissions vehicle.”
The bill, petitioned by Senators John A. Hart, Jr. and Sonia Chang-Diaz, also specified that the penalty for violating preferred parking spaces would be a fine between $15 and $50.
The office of Chang-Diaz said that this bill would not lead to a state-wide mandate for preferred parking spaces. Rather, it would provide city and town municipalities the option of creating preferred parking spaces if they see the need. Costs for implementing the program would fall to the municipality setting them up.
“It would all depend on the way the local town would adopt this legislation,” said Nathan T. Pham, policy director for the office of Senator Hart. “If no city and town adopts the legislation, then it won’t have any impact.”
Metropolitan cities like Boston may potentially not feel the impact at all if the bill were passed, he said.
“That’s not something we foresee happening here in Boston,” said Pham, referring to whether the city of Boston would ever consider setting aside these preferred parking spots.
According to Susan E. Clippinger, director of traffic, parking and transportation for the city of Cambridge, the bill would have minimal to no impact on parking and transportation in the city.
“We’re trying to get people not to drive, at all, any vehicle,” said Clippinger. “I’m not sure this would encourage people to buy different vehicles. It certainly isn’t something that would encourage people to drive less.”
Clippinger said that the city of Cambridge has been taking measures to increase the number of commuters using bicycles and public transportation.
“In the last six years, we’ve seen a one-hundred percent increase in the number of people bicycling,” said Clippinger. “We’re seeing increased MBTA ridership at T-stations that serve Cambridge.”