Ask LH: Can I Be Fined For Parking In A Concealed 'Bus Zone'?

Dear Lifehacker, I rode my motorbike down to Bondi Beach yesterday, and after riding around for a while, found a gap in a row of parked cars, just in front of a parking meter, so slipped my bike in between them. When I returned after a couple of hours, well within the four hour limit indicated by the nearby 4P sign, I found a fine for $236 for parking in a bus zone.

Parking ticket picture from Shutterstock

This obviously surprised me, as the 4P sign, parking meter, and row of parked cars (none of which had been issued a fine, incidentally) seemed to indicate that this was a perfectly legitimate place to park. There was a 'Bus Zone' sign, and a bus stop, but these were much further down from where I was parked. After looking around for a couple of minutes, I found another, much smaller, bus zone sign tucked away at the end of the end of the parking lane. It is easy to miss and even easier to conceal (for example, if a van or something is stopped in front of it).

Is there anything I can do to fight this? Clearly the council has a 4P sign AND a parking meter right where I stopped, which seem to me clear indicators that this is a valid place to park. Sure, there is also a sign indicating a bus zone, but this is not clearly displayed and is contrary to all the other indicators that you can safely park here. Any advice? It just seems like a money trap to me. Thanks, Peeved Parker

Dear PP,

We recently highlighted poor car park signage as one of the Most Infuriating Traffic Fine Causes -- so I feel your frustration.

Did you take any photos of the signs and surroundings at the time of the incident? Do you think a reasonable person would agree that there's sufficient cause for confusion? If so, we'd definitely contest it. The proper procedures for doing so should be listed on the back of your ticket -- in most circumstances you can either request an internal review from the NSW State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) or have the matter heard at Local Court.

The former option involves filling out a Request Review of Penalty Notice form and sending it to the SDRO along with any supporting documents. An example of what your accompanying letter should look like can be found here.

If the SDRO sides with you, it will ask the issuing agency (in this case Bondi Council) to conduct a review. However, the agency can still choose not to conduct a review, in which case you will be notified in writing that the fine still holds.

Having the matter decided in court is a more direct approach but it's also more time-consuming -- you can expect to waste an entire day in court waiting for your case to be heard. You'll also need to pay a $50 application fee which you wont get back if the judge rules in the traffic warden's favour.

You can arrange your court appearance by paying a visit to your local court or filling out a court election form via the SDRO website. Unfortunately you usually can't choose the day of the hearing but are given a limited range of dates to select from.

If you go down this route, remember to be rational and polite and only present relevant evidence. Avoid getting ranty or using phrases like "money trap" which can only hurt your chances. You can also expect your previous driving record to come under review -- if you have a stack of prior driving offenses the judge is less likely to be favourable towards you. That said, it certainly sounds like you may have a case here. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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See also: The Most Infuriating Traffic Fines In Existence | Top 10 Parking Crimes Against Humanity | This Is What Happens When You Try To Pay A Parking Fine In Loose Change [Video]


Comments

    What seems stranger is that none of the other cars were fined. Definitely seems dodgy.

    Last edited 07/01/14 3:12 pm

      This whole thing just seems bizarre... either its a 4P carpark or its a bus zone... it can't be both... but the picture would seem to indicate that it is.
      Is the bit to the right a separate bus zone (for a different bus? Maybe those cars to the right had only just parked there and the previous cars there *had* been fined?

    You will likely need to send in a protest with writing, and photographs. Lot's of photographs.
    Unless you've actually received a mailed notification of infringement from the SDRO they are unlikely to have your details, instead, it's Bondi Council who have the information at the moment.
    (I once called SDRO and felt I was being treated like I was a piece of shit for trying to contest an unjust parking fine - loading zone, outside of loading zone hours)

    I actually had to deal with this exact situation a couple of months ago. Turns out the kerb at the front of my house is a bus zone. Buses don't stop there, and the only sign is a faded bit of metal bolted on to a power pole nearby.

    The SDRO (in NSW, no idea about other states) actually has an online review system. Basically you write what happened and provide as much supporting documentation (photos) as possible and they conduct a review. In this case, they said that their calls to my local council were unreturned so they couldn't determine whether or not the bus stop was still in use or whether the signage was inadequate, so they just waived the fine.

    If you can demonstrate that there was honest and reasonable mistake they're usually fairly lenient, although working for the public service myself I know that it probably depends on the person conducting the review.

    This is all too simple - there was a ticket meter for those parking spaces. Peeved Parker didn't follow the rules for bike parking, making his complaint completely invalid.

    If he "slipped" the bike between two cars, he is illegally parked *unless* he actually paid for a parking ticket *and* there are no painted lines to denote a single car space. But as he has made no mention of paying for a parking ticket, this article is completely null and void regardless of whether the parking spaces were lined or not.

    No ticket = FINE.

    The only places you can park for free in a ticketed/metered space (but still within the rules of the parking sign, i.e. 1 hr, 2 hr parking etc) are in the City and immediate suburbs, these being Pyrmont, Ultimo, Redfern, Darlinghurst and Kings Cross. Bondi is not one of those places.

    If you are going to ride a bike, at least know the rules about where you can and can't park before you complain to everyone.

      Then why was the fine for parking in a bus zone, rather than for parking without a ticket? And if it was for parking in a bus zone, why didn't any of the surrounding cars also get fined? Not so simple now is it.

        If the bike was parked without a ticket (which it was) and within the times of the Bus Zone, then the ticket officer has most likely fined him for the most expensive fine, this being parked in a Bus Zone vs parking without a ticket. He's lucky he didn't cop a fine for the Bus Zone *and* parking without a ticket.

        As we don't know if he was illegally parked outside of the 4P restrictions, (we can only assume he was) he would've been pinged still for parking in a metered spot. Either way, a fine would be issued regardless - whether it be for the Bus Zone or parking without a ticket.

        He wrote: "This obviously surprised me, as the 4P sign, parking meter, and row of parked cars (none of which had been issued a fine, incidentally) seemed to indicate that this was a perfectly legitimate place to park."
        Just because there's a row of parked cars, how exactly does that make it "seem perfectly legitimate"? That's nothing but a naive line of reasoning. Did he inspect the dash of each of those cars first to ensure they had paid a ticket? (it would appear not - otherwise he would've said so in his email to strengthen his argument and make it more legitimate).

        A parking sign and a meter are not "clear indicators" of "a valid place to park". That's just an assumption by the rider/driver if they try to use that excuse. Parking signs are clearly listed with times, days, how long etc. It all depends on what was listed on the 4P sign. If the conditions stated parking within certain times was allowed and the bike was parked outside of those times, then the ticket stands.

        No matter how you dice it, it was an illegal park. The only way the parking would be legitimate and a valid case could be argued in court, is if the parking was within the times listed on the 4P sign and there was no meter. So a ticket would've been issued for one or the other and he's lucky he only got the one.

        Last edited 07/01/14 9:07 pm

          Actually if it was outside the times listed on the 4P sign it means there is no time limit, excluding any other parking restrictions.

          Out of curiosity why are you so angry about this?

            You may have a valid point there, as we don't know whether he was parked within or outside of the times. Except that he was given a ticket for being in a Bus Zone. Which means he must have been in that zone during the Bus Zone hours.

            Using a row of parked cars as an indicator that it's OK to park is naive and the whole complaint has zero validity behind it.

            I'm sorry if you thought that, but I'm not angry. I just think the whole complaint is pointless and has no valid logic or argument to it so it makes no sense why he is even asking for advice when he's clearly in the wrong.

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