Thursday, February 4, 2016

How to get the word out

If you still visit my blog from time to time, you've surely noticed that I'm not posting very often. After close to ten years of prolific writing, I've realized that blogs, for the most part, are just not that popular anymore. My page visits have fallen in half, and I'm not alone. The world has simply moved on, for the most part, to other social media options such as Facebook, Instagram, and especially Twitter.

These days I blog rather rarely, but I'm feeding posts to Twitter often. I am still something of a new comer to Twitter, but first realized its power  back on May 7, 2015, as I tweeted out updates during Lincoln's most recent flood. By the end of the day, it seemed like everyone was turning to Twitter for the most recent updates and latest news.

We are in the midst of cleaning up from a pretty significant snow event here in Lincoln, and a residential parking ban is in place. Getting neighborhood streets plowed is always a problem, because no matter how much you might try, not every gets the word about these bans, and not everyone obeys them. While the police can ticket the violator (250+ were issued overnight Tuesday to Wednesday), that really doesn't solve the problem

The tickets don't help the plow operator. When a single vehicle owner on the block ignores the parking ban, the plows must go around it, and the blade can't get to the curb. The owner digs out a few days later, but everyone else on the block has to cope with the resulting burial mound for the remainder of the winter. Another one on the opposite side of the street, and its a slalom course for the neighbors. Good luck with a bus or fire engine.


This morning, a discussion of this problem broke out on Twitter, questioning how people can be made more aware of such things as parking bans, in an age when few subscribe to the newspaper, listen to AM radio, or watch a local evening newscast. A UNL professor offered to canvas the students in her communications class for ideas this week. Do you have any? How can the City of Lincoln more effectively reach people with information like this?

33 comments:

Tim Hegarty said...

Some of us old timers have not moved on and still enjoy reading your blog. I think that when I retire, I'll contract my services to people who need more than 140 characters to express a thought or idea but no longer remember how to do that.

Perditus Inventionem said...

Easy. Through Facebook and Twitter. Ask to it to be retweeted and shared in the name of safety.

Ie: A picture with the text. "Parking ban in effect on day X. Please share."

Include a link to instructions. If needed include potential fines for failing to comply.

M Roselius said...

Its likely not going to be one "channel" that hits everyone. And of course, the landscape is always shifting. Twitter is good. Facebook is also a valid option. The latest craze to consider is SnapChat. My understanding is that they have morphed that platform from a disappearing text platform to one that supports messages, video etc with user channels. Just something to explore.

Anonymous said...

I sure do agree, it can be a tough thing to accomplish. Social media is a great way, but only if you are "connected" or have "liked" that page or a friend shares the info.
We had college students on our street that although the ban had been in effect for a day and a half ( even numbered the night before and newly issued odd number last night) had no clue about it when I alerted them when they were about to park their car on our side of the street.
Maybe robo calls or texts to colege students or announcements at workplaces would be bennigicial. The gal's response to me was " since I've been at either school or work all day, I hadn't heard anything, sorry)

Anonymous said...

paid ads on social media I never noticed the parking ban until I woke up yesterday morning saw that a ban had been in place since 6pm the night before. did some searching and sure enough 1011 had posted about it, however, the post only had 21 likes and 2 comments that is a small number which tells me facebook chose not to show it, had it been sponsored and targeted to the city of lincoln we would have all saw it whether we like the page or not!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps two or three residents could be "block captains" for both sides of one block, tasked with posting notices on all doors about not parking on the odd- or even-numbered street (for both plowing and for later cleanup)--I think many people are confused that this is a two-step process.

Nyfty said...

How about using those group outgoing phone calls? Still might not reach those without landlines. Or could a notice be pushed out as a text message to all users in a geographic area?

ARRRRG!!!! said...

Fire some cannons. Odd or even number of shots determines what side of the street is banned for parking.

Tom Casady said...

Perditus,

That's what we do, but we still need to be missing a lot of people. Maybe ARRRRG!!!! has a good idea there with the cannon fire.

Anonymous said...

Or could it be a $35 ticket seems worth it at the time vs. getting bundled up and moving the car or finding a place to move it? Any idea how many tickets get dismissed?

Anonymous said...

I saw several orange sticks I thought were for the DT District ? But I'm not sure. They were all frozen to the ground if so? Would have been helpful reminder to drop them in the meter spots as a reminder, even if they need to be reclaimed or removed when finished? Or N/S E/W restrictions. Instead of ALL ban. Maybe the small districts could be Placarded permanent: "SNOW REMOVAL DISTRICT" SIGN at all entry points. We have lots of visitors and transients "students" that will never know or learn our quirky setups. FREE parking in garages for the duration, who is going to get up at 10pm to move their car at 20 below in their jammies after a beer ? Great plan borders on stupid....! I spent all Morning 4:30 to 7am at a local business DT attempting to save the world from harm (volunteer) , a very difficult task, only one ticket was written, many more were spared ! A few educated, some pissed, others frustrated from the property, some overnight abandons TOWED (not ours) Overall success....!

Anonymous said...

I’d be curious to know what percentage of NE towns have some form of parking bands or restrictions that go into place after a snowfall. The reason I ask is because in some ways I see this as an educational issue. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a new driver but are new drivers made aware of these types of laws? Do they know that when it snows that they need to expect parking bands and need to pay attention to the announcements?

Anonymous said...

Tow instead of ticketing...I'll bet once a few tow trucks show up people will come running out of their houses to move vehicles.

Grandma Bear said...

I'm in agreement with the tow instead of ticket statement. That was what happened in Minneapolis. You get your car towed once on a snowy day or night and you don't want to let it happen again!

Tom Casady said...

Grandma Bear, 8:41,

Scores of cars get towed, too, not just cited. It's a real slog to tow, as cars have to be dug out first, and there is both a limited number of wreckers, and a limited amount of time. You could spend a few hours on a couple blocks. I think you're right though, for those towed they'll probably sit up and take notice next time around!

8:36,

These bans are very common in cities of significant size: Grand Island, Kearney, etc.. How would you propose to execute this "education?"

4:18,

I don't think these are liberally dismissed. I suppose the fine could be raised, but that doesn't appear to be the problem to me, rather it's the sheer number of people who seem to be completely oblivious to the news--regardless of print, radio, TV, or social media.

Anonymous said...

Just don't have the plows clean the street if there is a single car in violation. That way all the neighbors get upset. They grab their torches and pitchforks and take care of the violating offender. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

hmmm. No longer a 'sleeping blog'!

Anonymous said...

I would certainly miss your blog!

Mark Bach said...

I too miss the frequency of your blog. Perhaps your promotion had something to do with the loss of viewers?

Simple solution move to Tempe, AZ. 81 degrees and never had cancelled school yet for a snow day

Steve said...

Light the offending cars on fire. It will clear the snow around them as it burns leaving a nice clean street once the burned out hulk is removed.

Alex Andersen said...

Maybe the news feature on PulsePoint as one outlet, and using the city's Dynamic Message Signs on arterials (if they aren't already). Possibly work with UNL to send out a UNL alert via SMS to students since many don't live on campus, or even those at dorms who will park on 16th/17th/R Streets and maybe the electronic billboards that are allover town owned by Lamar.

Tom Casady said...

Alex,

All good thoughts. Message boards are already used. I thought of PulsePoint, but it's kind of a circular problem: you've got to download the app and sign up for the news alerts, which seems to be the same problem: too many not paying attention. Doesn't hurt, though. As for the campus alert system, I really think that is best kept for true emergencies.

Right now, I think the best thing we can do is just more of what we are already doing: media blasts, twitter, Facebook. I asked UNL to help out with the last storm, since thousands of students follow the UNLPD Twitter feed, and they did so. One of the better ideas I've heard is to try to engage more citizens in taking some responsibility for their own block: contacting people to let them know. In other words, maybe those that are already clued in can help to clue in others!

Alex Andersen said...

Thanks for the response. I guess knowing and telling your neighborhood is maybe the best way!

Alex Andersen said...

Got another idea: Work with StarTran to get the destination signs on buses to say Snow Emergency or something along the lines of that on their routes. I have seen other cities have messages about events like that. With as many buses going through neighborhoods, its bound to maybe have a few extra eyes.

Tom Casady said...

Alex,

I like that!

Scott Crippen said...

A significantly larger maybe $400 fine, with a portion going to the snow fund might be enough encouragement to move a vehicle. The excuse that they didn't know falls quickly in my eyes when I consider hearing about an impending blizzard on TV, radio, social media in several forms. Then there is the obvious clue when 5" of snow has accumulated. Ignorance is not/ should not be an excuse and a hefty fine plus inconvenience in going to the tow lot and to retrieve ones car might be the best way to be enlightened. As for this blog, I use RSS feed to see new posts and updates. Often these feeds are not counted in blogspot stats

Anonymous said...

Maybe a blimp, like the Goodyear blimp, that scrolls messages. It could be bought with the money that's not being used to fill in the potholes.

Steve said...

I think a lot of the people who ignore snow-emergency parking bans probably also ignore other parking restrictions. Some examples; parking facing the wrong direction on the street, parking in a front yard, parking in the sidewalk space, parking too far from the curb, parking too near a driveway, or a fire hydrant, or an intersection, or a stop sign, and parking for more than 24 hours in one spot. If people would report these infractions regularly, those guilty parties would begin to understand that they will not get away with it. It can be done anonymously via Interlinc or phone. This type of neighborhood policing by the public could go a long way in helping the snow-parking problem as well as many other problems. Short term, this might increase the load for parking enforcement, but long-term, I think it would make more people compliant and reduce their load.

Anonymous said...

How about a blimp that scrolls information on the side. It could be used for more than parking bans.

Steve said...

Anon @ 8:58

Maybe enough people will crash their cars trying to read the message that there will be fewer of them parked illegally during the snow emergency. :)

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I like the blimp idea! You could shoot the cannons from the blimp and when everyone looked up, they would see the snow parking ban message. You can borrow one of my blimps.

Older'n' dirt said...

Thank heavens for a driveway and garage!! I've been the parking ban route, and didn't enjoy it in the least. It certainly is necessary, tho. I for one,wish you could turn out more blogs. I'm elderly and don't get out much, so they're always entertaining and informative. Postings on crimestoppers seems to be down, too.A fair number show up on tv news, but never make it to the blog. Anyway thanks for all the stuff you have posted.

darndog said...

I enjoy reading the blog! Please don't stop! Especially enjoy the old stories.