The American Revolution may have been set in motion by unfair taxation, but what free parking meters had to do with Monday’s Bunker Hill Day was anyone’s guess. Indeed, Boston’s decision to offer free metered parking surely had less to do with any coherent public need than with the city’s inability to fully abandon an obscure holiday known mainly to government employees.
One of Suffolk County’s infamous “hack holidays,” Bunker Hill Day has been fading away ever since, under a relatively recent state law, government offices stopped closing for it. Private businesses generally didn’t observe the holiday to begin with. So the free meters were an odd half-measure. For a city concerned about downtown congestion, luring yet more car traffic with promises of free parking was a mixed blessing at best. Meanwhile, for drivers, the free meters were of limited benefit; time limits at meters were still to be monitored and enforced. Bostonians will always honor the Battle of Bunker Hill — but can surely do so while dropping a quarter into a meter.