Tuesday, March 27, 2007

public parking workshop

As part of the Ann Arbor Discover Downtown (A2D2) project, the City is hosting two public participation events on long-term parking strategy. Tonight (March 28), the project team will facilitate a work session to obtain input and direction on the parking study at the Ann Arbor Downtown Library 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There will also be a public workshop on downtown access and parking issues Thursday, March 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, City Hall. More details at the A2D2 page.

So, why should you care? You either don't own a car or don't use one often. How is fixing downtown parking going to impact your life? If you aren't sure why you would attend these meetings or what you would say if you did, here are a few ways that parking affects carfree folks:

1) Community decisions are made by those who show up at the meetings. It is easy to blame the auto-centric design of cities on a Detroit conspiracy, but the fact is that decisions are being made at these meetings and the people who are most likely to show up are those who want more, better parking. If no one shows up to say, "hey, I ride my bike and take the bus. We need to include these options in this discussion," then those options won't be discussed.

2) Increased parking facilities reduce downtown density. Carfree life is always easier when parking lots are not spreading out the distance between destinations. We should be advocating for minimal increases in parking supply.

3) Parking is part of the larger transportation system. Increasing parking leads to a need for other changes to accomodate increased traffic (if more parking won't result in more traffic, why are we adding parking?). That means more competition between people and cars for public space.

4) Instead of more parking, we should be considering more convenient parking. Even when half of the spaces in town are empty, visitors end up circling the block looking for one of the few spaces on Main St. They do this because a) they want convenience, and b) they don't know about other options. We need to provide better information to drivers about where parking is available and make parking in a structure more convenient than parking on the street. Once they have parked their cars, we need to provide convenient ways to get around downtown without going back to the car. A good network of transit, sidewalks, and bike lanes, along with other facilities will help. Not coincidentally, these are the projects that the carfee community wants more of anyway. This is the perfect venue to explain that connection.

The workshop is an open house, so you won't get stuck sitting through a boring public policy lecture. Just stop in and let the leaders know that parking design is important to you and you want to know what alternatives they are considering.

Thanks to Nancy Shore for the heads-up!


Anonymous said...

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