Dependable Erection

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Downtown parking

So i'm reading the coverage of the Lakewood Y community meeting last night in the Herald Sun and over at Kevin's place. This is another one of those issues that i don't have a personal stake in. My experience with the Y over the years has been decidedly mixed. But i have a great deal of respect for the community members who are doing everything they can to convince the folks in Raleigh that the undersized facility in their part of town is worth saving. That they're having an impact on the process is a decidedly Durham thing.

But this post isn't about that.

Here's a quote from Kevin's piece that got my attention:
The Y also recommends adding family/youth locker rooms to the downtown facility (a widely-cited need) and trying to close Seminary St. with the City's blessing in order to add more parking capacity for the facility.
(emphasis added)

That's actually a throwaway line about parking. Kevin's main point is that the Y is committed to expansion, just not necessarily in the right places.

But the parking issue is a key one, at least for me. The city has some pretty misguided policies when it comes to parking. At a time when major cities are limiting the availability of free or cheap parking in their downtowns, as a means of encouraging people to get out of their cars, Durham is building parking decks and garages all over the place. Some cities have zoning laws that limit the number of parking spaces for new, urban development and redevelopment. In Durham, we have minimum parking requirements. We have pedestrian plans, we have bike plans, we have underutilized transit systems, we have new transit hubs being discussed and built and argued over. But when the rubber hits the road, what we end up with is more and more parking spaces.

Of course, what will inevitably follow is the dreaded "traffic congestion" caused by too many cars on our urban streets. And that will end up being accompanied by calls for wider streets, more turn lanes, and an infrastructure that is increasingly hostile to forms of transportation that are not automobile-centric.

More parking isn't the solution to every damn downtown problem, and it's time that all the different facets of Durham's disparate decision making authorities got on the same page with that.

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  • Not to mention that the on-street parking at Seminary already serves the Y very well. Or, for that matter, that there's 5 acres of parking just across Seminary St. that's not in use for most of the times that the Y is in heavy use.

    Idiots. That's who's running our YMCA. Idiots.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 2:01 PM  

  • I agree. What a stupid recommendation. They really need to get their priorities straight.

    I almost always park on Seminary to avoid the lazy people circling the main lot looking for parking spaces. If all the Seminary spots are taken, I just go park in the bigger lot and walk a couple extra yards. There is always ample parking in that lot and the extra exercise isn't going to hurt anybody.

    By Blogger weege, at 2:29 PM  

  • dude, peak oil will take care of those cars pretty darn soon now. it obviously takes a while for some of these people to catch up to the reality of our bike/ped-oriented future. (especially if they are the kind who have more than one decade of catching up to do already) if we are still lamenting an excess of downtown automobile traffic in, oh, let's say five to seven years, then I will gladly buy you dinner at the 'Mong. if I'm not begging for change on the corner.

    By Blogger katuah, at 4:12 PM  

  • I'm always amazed by people who consider it a crisis when they can't get a parking space right in front of where they're going. I don't consider parking to be difficult until I've circled a 5-6 block area a couple of times and not seen a single parking space.

    Which is what it's been like in just about any vibrant, interesting downtown area I've ever been in.

    By Anonymous cd, at 9:22 PM  

  • I said it over on Kevin's blog too but closing Seminary is the STUPIDEST idea I have heard from the Y since they decided to stop honoring LGBT family memberships. Yeah, I live downtown, but when I am lazy or hung over or coming back into town and need to stop for something I have NEVER had a difficult time finding a place to park for free. In addition to all of the on street parking, there is the We Want Oprah garage, the Chapel Hill St. garage and surface lot, the Courthouse garage and surface lot, the garage at AmTob, the garage behind Main St.

    If anything, I think Downtown has too much parking and too many garages as it is. They are wasted space.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:03 AM  

  • I posted this at Kevin's as well, but is there anything more ridiculous than adding parking so people don't have to walk an extra 50 feet before they exercise?

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 11:28 AM  

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