The Barnacle is a new way for parking patrols to immobilize vehicles. Instead of using a boot to keep a wheel from moving, officers can slap a Barnacle across the windshield, suction it to the glass, and arm it with a keypad.
The Barnacle is a bright yellow 20-pound piece of plastic that sticks to the windshield with 750 pounds of force. The parking enforcement officer only has to pump the device a half dozen times to stick the two giant suction cups to the glass. The he sets the alarm and tracking system using the keypad built into the device. If you come to your Barnacled car and try to drive away anyway, a high-pitched alarm will sound.
Just like the boot, the Barnacle isn’t something you’ll find on your car when your meter runs out one day. It is something you’ll find if you have loads of unpaid parking tickets, prolonged illegal parking, or even having unpaid taxes, depending on the city’s regulations. Unlike the boot, if you leave your car there with the Barnacle on and don’t deal with the issues that got your car Barnacled in the first place, your car can easily be towed away.
This makes it easier to immobilize your car, but it also makes it easier to get back on the road. There’s a number to call, and you can pay your ticket (or all of your tickets) immediately. They’ll give you a code to unlock the Barnacle and remove it from your car.
But now you have a hunk of yellow plastic to deal with. Not to worry — Barnacle is working to partner with ride hailing services in the near future to pick up the Barnacle when you’ve unlocked it. According to an email from Barnacle, you can be free of the suction cups within 10 minutes. If there isn’t a ride hailing service in your area, you have 24 hours to bring the Barnacle, which folds up and fits in a trunk, to a drop-off site.
The ultimate in Barnacle convenience would be an app that allows you to pay with your phone and get the release code via text rather than calling an operator. But maybe, if you have parking violations often enough to wish you could download an app for repeat use, you should reconsider your parking strategies.
Edited to clarify the company’s relationship with ride hailing services.