A prime offender rides the curb in San Francisco. TowIt

One developer’s weapon against lousy drivers and vans blocking the bike lane.

The next time you see a parked car attempting to mate with a curb, as shown above, you can leave a nasty note on its windshield.

Or, if you have the app TowIt, you could snap a photo and (in theory) flag it for a good towin’.

The aggressive app, available in Google and Apple versions, “allows civilians to report selfish or illegal parking and dangerous driving in real time,” say its makers. “TowIt works with municipal governments, local law enforcement, and towing companies to remove the barriers required to make cities effectively fight and deter bad parking and dangerous driving habits.”

The app was developed by Michael McArthur in Toronto, where it’s reportedly caught on among local cyclists. He hopes the geotagged map of parking offenders will be of use to the authorities—which is kind of a weakness, as the app’s effectiveness relies on cops and towers actively monitoring it. Here’s McArthur’s vision, as described to the Toronto Star:

McArthur says he has met with the some of the mayor’s staff, and has also reached out Traffic Services, who have contacted him to discuss the app. [sic] “I am offering the police a free solution, with no cost to them and no cost to the taxpayers, that is just going to make them more efficient, which in turn will save them or make them more money, so I can’t understand why they would say no to such a thing unless they are against innovation.”

Right now, the app seems most useful for shaming lousy parkers online. Most of the reports hail from Toronto, though there are a few in U.S. cities like San Francisco, Houston, and New York, where, hilariously, somebody’s tagged a police van:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A view of traffic near Los Angeles.
    Transportation

    How Cars Divide America

    Car dependence not only reduces our quality of life, it’s a crucial factor in America’s economic and political divisions.

  2. Equity

    Bike Advocacy’s Blind Spot

    The biking community is overwhelmingly concerned with infrastructure. For urban anthropologist Adonia Lugo, that’s an equity problem.

  3. Transportation

    Hartford Trains Its Hopes for Renewal on Commuter Rail

    Connecticut’s new Hartford Line isn’t just a train: It’s supposed to be an engine for the capital city’s post-industrial transformation.

  4. An illustration shows two alleys in Detroit.
    Design

    Finding the Untapped Potential of Alleys

    “We’re starting to realize they’re just as powerful as a park or plaza.”

  5. Equity

    CityLab University: Inclusionary Zoning

    You’ve seen the term. But do you really know what it means? Here’s your essential primer.