Although I definitely still bare some resentment towards the UW-Whitewater parking patrol, I can happily say that I’ve never had to deal with a wheel clamp or wheel boot, although I am familiar with some of the four-letter adjectives often used to describe them.
For those who have had one of these mechanical equivalents to the facehugger from Aliens attached to their vehicle, the folks from New-York based Ideas That Stick feel your pain. And in response,they’ve developed the Barnacle.
The Barnacle is a lightweight, folding plastic tray with a pair of attached suction cups and an embedded push-button security panel. When encountering a parking violator, law enforcement slaps the Barnacle across the windshield.
It’s large enough to completely obstruct the driver’s view, unless you’re willing to stick your head out the driver-side window, which, by the way, is also illegal. Once the panels are in place, a built-in pump creates a vacuum suction equivalent to 750 pounds of force. It’s also held in place by a security ring that basically makes it impossible to pry off the Barnacle without also removing the windshield.
An integrated GPS sounds an alarm if the car begins to move – alerting law enforcement to your attempted getaway.
The Barnacle remains in place until the driver calls a hotline and pays the fine. Once paid, the driver receives a code to unlock the device, and is tasked with returning it within 24 hours to a pre-determined location, or contacting a ride-sharing service to complete the process.
Advantages of the Barnacle include an ability to be quicker and easier for the driver. Instead of waiting for someone to remove a boot, the whole situation is resolved in a matter of minutes.The ABS plastic panels are also lighter than a boot and can be slapped on the windshield from the curb, instead of kneeling close to traffic, making it safer. Then of course, there’s all those trees that can be spared by avoiding paper tickets.
Currently, Allentown, PA, and Fort Lauderdale, FL are giving the Barnacle a try.