Homeless in Vancouver: Broadway rush—to be or not to be towed

Tow trucks fascinate me; in the artificial construct of urban traffic they resemble an evolutionary adaptation.

They’re trucks that displayed a sudden mutation, allowing them to profitably exploit a niche in the ecosystem, like barber fish or taxis.

Mostly it’s because I use West Broadway to get back to the Fairview neighbourhood—like clockwork at around 3 p.m. every weekday—the Towing Hour.

Up until 3 p.m., cars may park on the north side of Broadway; as of 3 p.m. sharp, they can’t.

At that moment—until 6 p.m.—the parking lane becomes the high-occupancy vehicle lane.

It's reserved exclusively for buses, cars with more than one occupant, buses, me on my bike, articulated Number 99 B-line buses, and more buses.

Catch and release 

It was the blue car not my bike and trailer—whew!
Stanley Q. Woodvine

Tow trucks don’t work alone on West Broadway. Each appears to be “on the leash” of a traffic enforcement officer and their black and white jelly-bean Smart Fourtwo car.

When an officer catches a car overstaying its welcome, details are recorded, photos are taken, and a ticket is written.

Then the officer unleashes the tow truck—“Sic ’em Buster!” 

Normally nature takes its course: dogs chase rabbits, tow trucks tow cars.

Occasionally a vehicle owner will interrupt the process. This usually happens as the tow truck operator is winching up the vehicle.

The operator will unhook the vehicle, but the owner is still on the hook for the ticket—somewhere in the upscale neighbourhood of $60, I think.

The scene captured above and below on Friday was interesting in that the owner of the car saw the traffic enforcement officer and the tow truck in time to get to the vehicle before it was up on the hook.

The tow truck driver then just allowed the fellow to get into his car and drive away. The tow truck driver even waved goodbye.

I’m guessing a ticket was still issued, but I saw nothing handed over.

Perhaps there was a ticket stuck under a windshield wiper blade—if they still do that—but I expected to see some discussion with the tow truck operator.

I thought perhaps they charged a towing company fee for unhooking a car, over-and-above the parking ticket; but in this instance there was no discussion or evidence of a transaction.

I watch all this with great interest but little understanding. I’m a cyclist—I don’t drive a car.

I think I do drive car drivers a bit nuts, but I’m not even sure about that; they could be shouting encouragement at me. 

The blue car escaped. The tow truck driver is wandering in traffic for some reason.
Stanley Q. Woodvine
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