Archive | Parking

What Are We Going To Do With All That Parking?

It’s an interesting juxtaposition. As reported on Bike Portland, the City of Portland is trying to determine how much parking we need in corridors and centers.

At the same time Atlantic Cities is reporting on efforts by architects to figure out how to re-purpose unneeded parking into other uses, with the theme that we need to design our parking structures today so they have ‘good bones’ to assist future conversion.

I’m a little worried that the City is on the wrong track. Is government the right place to determine the ‘correct’ amount of parking, or is the market better positioned to do this (you can have as much parking as you’re prepared to pay for)?

The pivot point of course is on-street parking. I think many of the questions of sufficiency are really about protecting on-street parking resources. If that’s true, then let’s grab the bull by the horns and work out rational (and politically feasible) on-street parking management systems. Then I think we’d need to pay a lot less attention to (and build less) off-street parking.

Repeating the Sins of Other Modes

One of my favorite ways to start the day is a brisk bike ride to breakfast (I love breakfast sandwiches and wraps – feel free to forward recommendations). One morning this week I headed out to check out the new Roman Candle Baking Co. on Division (five stars – killer granola bowl!).

On my approach, the first thing I noticed was no parking staples on the sidewalk. But then I saw the bike parking in the parking lot.

Two classes of bike parking

Two classes of bike parking

There was beautiful covered bike parking! And a sign indicating video surveillance! (Actually, based on other signs the entire parking lot area was monitored.)

But then I was disappointed to discover the covered parking was already full…

The total bike parking picture was a covered wave rack for five bikes (BTW – wave racks were generally disdained at our wonk night) and another uncovered wave rack for three bikes next to it (where I parked). A bit further down, adjacent to the entrance to the next business, there was another uncovered 5-bike wave rack.

Here’s the puzzle – at 8am there weren’t enough customers in the bakery to have filled up the covered parking. So either folks not using that particular building are squatting there (tempting), or (more likely – and someone let me know if I’m wrong) the covered parking is being taken up by the employees of the bakery.

Now I’m not saying employees deserve lower class bike parking (indeed, their security needs may be higher), but this reminds me exactly of the phenomenon I encountered in the auto parking debates in NW Portland. Business owners would complain about a lack of on-street parking for their customers, but would then allow the employees (and sometimes the owner him/herself) to take up the parking spaces near the entrance of the business.

It would have been great if ALL the bike parking on the site had been built to the same higher standard. And while I might not want to relegate employees to a lower class of parking, it’s perfectly fair to put employee parking further from the entrance – employees will be there all day, they can walk a little bit. In this case, there’s an area at the back of the parking lot (also under video monitoring) that would be perfect for some covered staples for employees.

Potential location for employee bike parking

Potential location for employee bike parking

But if you’re going to be putting premium parking right by your entrance, you really want to manage it for use by customers – that’s just good business!

The Virtues of a Parking Tax – But What Kind?

Via Planetizen:

Atlanta is considering a parking tax, with the conversation driven in part by this academic paper (PDF, 3.2M). The tax would help deal with a backlog of transportation projects, including an incomplete sidewalk network (sound familiar?) and potentially be used to match Federal dollars.

The paper includes a very interesting discussion of the relative merits of a transactional tax (a percentage of the parking rate charged, San Francisco charges 25%, Pittsburgh 50%!) versus a per-space tax. While both are almost certainly passed on to the parker, the latter is a pretty strong signal to property owners to consider uses for their real estate other than parking, since the tax has to be paid whether or not a market for the space exists, or is strong enough to cover the tax.

Another interesting aspect is the suggestion of a tiered tax approach with the highest rates at the city center, diminishing as you transition outward, in order to avoid shifting of parking demand to lower-taxed areas nearby.

Dissecting Curb Parking

Alan Durning has an outstanding post over at Sightline looking at the policy and expectations around residential curbside parking, including this gem:

Urban planners and lawyers may think of on-street parking as public property: a shared, public resource to be managed for the common good. Most home owners–and most voters–think of curb spaces as their own, their domain, their property.