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Parking problem downtown - too much of it? Not enough?


GRDadof3

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If retail downtown is so dependent on abundant parking, where is the retail? (Not something I am asking of you, not putting you on the spot.) I think its all about accessibility. Accessibility via an attractive, clean, and new transit mode.

It's a huge challenge to get people to think about using any mode of transportation for individual trips other than the car, no matter how clean and attractive. Cars and the mobility they afford to go anwhere we want, at anytime we want, define status and sucess in our society. We're not good at waiting patiently for anything, sharing our space, giving up our individual wants and needs for the common good. That has to change before mass transit will gain broad support from politicians, taxpayers, and end users.

Like most fundamental change in consumer behavior, it'll only occur through obvious economic disincentive, when the costs of using a private car--registering it, insuring it, parking it, fueling it--becomes prohibitively expensive.

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What you are saying validates GRdad's point that there has been enough idle talking among Mass Transit Advocates on message boards and time for action. There needs to be a solidified effort among advocates to persuade city leaders to develop a comprehensive means of mass transit for the whole metropolitan area and to educate the public of the benefits of using mass transit instead of driving.

It's a huge challenge to get people to think about using any mode of transportation for individual trips other than the car, no matter how clean and attractive. Cars and the mobility they afford to go anwhere we want, at anytime we want, define status and sucess in our society. We're not good at waiting patiently for anything, sharing our space, giving up our individual wants and needs for the common good. That has to change before mass transit will gain broad support from politicians, taxpayers, and end users.

Like most fundamental change in consumer behavior, it'll only occur through obvious economic disincentive, when the costs of using a private car--registering it, insuring it, parking it, fueling it--becomes prohibitively expensive.

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It's a huge challenge to get people to think about using any mode of transportation for individual trips other than the car, no matter how clean and attractive. Cars and the mobility they afford to go anwhere we want, at anytime we want, define status and sucess in our society. We're not good at waiting patiently for anything, sharing our space, giving up our individual wants and needs for the common good. That has to change before mass transit will gain broad support from politicians, taxpayers, and end users.

Like most fundamental change in consumer behavior, it'll only occur through obvious economic disincentive, when the costs of using a private car--registering it, insuring it, parking it, fueling it--becomes prohibitively expensive.

I don't think that's true. Many cities have proven that if you give people a fast, clean, easy to use and well-run alternative, that many people will leave their cars behind for daily trips to work or school. 60% of Portland MAX riders had never ridden transit before. Over 60% of Minneapolis' Hiawatha Line riders had never ridden transit before. Over 50% of Salt Lake City's TREX line had never ridden transit before. Are people in Grand Rapids going to get rid of their cars altogether? Probably not, and no one is expecting them to (at least I'm not). Even the best transit systems in Chicago, Portland, or Boston only capture 10-20% of daily commuters. That's considered a success, and I'd take that in a heartbeat.

We're not trying to cure Polio. We're trying to take pressure off of the existing roads, greatly postpone or eliminate the need to add additional lanes on our highways, and alleviate downtown parking demands.

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If anything the local attitude to transit is changing quite quickly. Look at the posted gain of nearly a million riderships. Also, the millages asked for were passed by majority voters -- somewhere in the mid 60s of percentages if I remember correctly.

Edited by Rizzo
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We're trying to take pressure off of the existing roads, greatly postpone or eliminate the need to add additional lanes on our highways, and alleviate downtown parking demands.

Not sure which assertion of mine you don't agree with, GRDad, perhaps all of them, but if you were in Portland than you likely saw that I-5 running through the middle of town is during is a bumper-to-bumper parking lot most of the day. That's the kind of obvious dis-incentive to drive I'm talking about. Portland, and Oregon in general, also have a collective community spirit it's carried over from the 1960s counter-culture that allows its political process to embrace intelligent alternatives to the status quo, like mass transit.

But it seems to me that a lot of the goals you state could be accomplished if the collective mentality of GR shifted to a rejection of spawl in favor of living, shopping and establishing more businesses throughout all city neighborhoods, including downtown. As tamias6 notes on another post, the Rapid works, at least for those who choose to live and work and shop near its many routes throughout the city. That choice is there. More need to make it.

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The Choice is there and many are making it. For instance ITP posted the addition of 1,000,000 riderships in FY06 then FY05.

That's great. Do you know what the total system capacity is, assuming current routes, schedules and buses? In other words, what's the vacancy rate of the Rapid?

Unfortunately, at the same time, many other metro Grand Rapidians have made choices that exacerbate the issues GR Dad identified regarding highway traffic, adding more lanes, downtown parking, etc.

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Not sure which assertion of mine you don't agree with, GRDad, perhaps all of them, but if you were in Portland than you likely saw that I-5 running through the middle of town is during is a bumper-to-bumper parking lot most of the day. That's the kind of obvious dis-incentive to drive I'm talking about. Portland, and Oregon in general, also have a collective community spirit it's carried over from the 1960s counter-culture that allows its political process to embrace intelligent alternatives to the status quo, like mass transit.

But it seems to me that a lot of the goals you state could be accomplished if the collective mentality of GR shifted to a rejection of spawl in favor of living, shopping and establishing more businesses throughout all city neighborhoods, including downtown. As tamias6 notes on another post, the Rapid works, at least for those who choose to live and work and shop near its many routes throughout the city. That choice is there. More need to make it.

You won't get people in GR to make that mental shift any time soon, and it will take something a lot more desirable than the current system to get the collective mentality of GR (and most cities for that matter) to embrace it. Right now, you're trying to sell an inferior brand, that costs more, takes more time, is perceived as unsafe, and doesn't work as well as what people have now, to people who don't even think they need a new product. Is it any wonder very few are buying it? However, we can start chipping away at our current land use and transportation trends by enhancing the way our current mass transit system works.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. We can't wait for gas prices to go to $4.00 a gallon, and I'd prefer not to wait until 131 is bumper to bumper all day. That's too long to wait.

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I don't know the numbers. But it is a given that the RAPID despite good management and stellar service, would never match the capacity an efficiency of a Light Rail System or even a fully implemented BRT esp. if the LRT or BRT were given there own ROW's and Guide ways. For now the RAPID is doing a very good job given that it is a bus system. However the RAPID can only go so far in its current configuration. For starters it is not immune to the negative effects of automotive traffic and the stop-and-go conditions that comes with it. Secondly, unless city planners where to work with the RAPID to establish TOD's along existing bus routes, there will never the same kind of permanence that a fix guide way of an LRT would provide--the kind of permanence that helped spark billions of dollars of development and investment along Portland's, streetcar line. Thirdly, there is still the lingering mindset that buses are only ridden by the have-not's where as commuter rail vehicles and even streetcars have a certain "coolness" factor that naturally make them attractive to hop aboard and ride. The RAPID is doing a fine job as a means of public transit. But it is not enough to bring about a change in quality of life issues that is needed to make the Grand Rapids metro area a competitor in the global economy when it comes to attracting talented people and good paying jobs. Only a truly robust and comprehensive metro wide mass transit system can do that.

That's great. Do you know what the total system capacity is, assuming current routes, schedules and buses? In other words, what's the vacancy rate of the Rapid?

Unfortunately, at the same time, many other metro Grand Rapidians have made choices that exacerbate the issues GR Dad identified regarding highway traffic, adding more lanes, downtown parking, etc.

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That's great. Do you know what the total system capacity is, assuming current routes, schedules and buses? In other words, what's the vacancy rate of the Rapid?

Unfortunately, at the same time, many other metro Grand Rapidians have made choices that exacerbate the issues GR Dad identified regarding highway traffic, adding more lanes, downtown parking, etc.

I don't have any hard numbers but the RAPID capacity is just like the freeway, pretty crowded at rush hour and excess capacity during mid day and late evening. Rail transit will have the same problem, excess capacity during mid day.

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Can this "excess capacity" on ether the RAPID or a more robust mass transit system be put to productive use somehow?

I don't have any hard numbers but the RAPID capacity is just like the freeway, pretty crowded at rush hour and excess capacity during mid day and late evening. Rail transit will have the same problem, excess capacity during mid day.
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Good ol' Knape mentions us once again.. this thread, in fact. I'm glad he's giving more public attention to this issue, it really needs it.

...

Good old Urban Planet list mom GRDadof3 makes you feel almost dirty -- like you're looking at some particularly nasty form of urban porn -- with his graphic and accurate depiction of just how much of downtown is dedicated to allowing us to park cars.

Next time you hear someone complaining about a lack of parking downtown, show them these pictures.

...

http://www.mlive.com/grpress/knapescorner/

Looks like he's also offering to buy you a beer, Dad! ;]

In the blog he also brings up the lack of corporate HQs downtown and how one corporate move to downtown could do more than the donations for buildings and services downtown the same companies are giving.

Edited by tSlater
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Good ol' Knape mentions us once again.. this thread, in fact. I'm glad he's giving more public attention to this issue, it really needs it.

http://www.mlive.com/grpress/knapescorner/

Looks like he's also offering to buy you a beer, Dad! ;]

In the blog he also brings up the lack of corporate HQs downtown and how one corporate move to downtown could do more than the donations for buildings and services downtown the same companies are giving.

Nice! I will take him up on that offer to share some more of my findings.

As far as his other contention, to which we probably need (or already have) another thread, he's right that just ONE large HQ downtown would do more for downtown than any of the "event" destinations that we have. 800 or 1200 people would probably require about 200,000 square feet minimum, probably taking up at least 1/2 of a 400,000 square foot building (another Bridgewater Place) to make it economical, and you could be talking about quite a bit more buzz downtown during the day, and hopefully spilling over into the evenings and weekends.

The problem: parking. Where do you build 300,000 square feet of parking? It's a lot cheaper to bulldoze a greenfield and pave it over. Not including land, to put in a surface lot downtown is about $5000/space, or $5,000,000 for 1000 people (not to mention the 8 acres it would take up), or $25,000/space for a ramp, or $25,000,000 for 1000 people. You want underground parking, try $40 - $45,000/space, or $45,000,000 for 1000 people (just to store their cars all day).

That's great that he at least asked Mark Murray about it. He's right that I don't think some of the local HQ CEO's realize how the GR area is judged by its downtown, not by its Alpine Ave's or Rivertown Pkwy's. Every city has those, and they all look the same, but not every city has a vibrant downtown.

mom. :rofl::blush:

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Dave at Disability Advocates looks to be thinking about rail transit, sent in an update email:

(1) "Evaluating Rail Transit Criticism" (www.vtpi.org/railcrit.pdf )

This report evaluates criticism of rail transit systems. It examines claims that rail transit is ineffective at increasing public transit ridership and improving transportation system performance, that rail transit investments are not cost effective, and that transit is an outdated form of transportation. It finds that critics often misrepresent issues and use biased and inaccurate analysis.

Edited by Rizzo
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Chris Knape wrote:

"Such a decision likely would result in a fairly major building project, hundreds of jobs and plenty of spinoff spending. It's not brain surgery to figure out a downtown headquarters would help companies recruit young talent: "Hey, Mr./Ms. MSU MBA, would you like to work for a big company in an office park in Walker (we have an Applebee's and a Chili's) or in a cool downtown area? Downtown, you say? Sorry, you'd better take that job in Chicago or Minneapolis." "

Now that's funny.

Last night I was on the sidewalk by Vets Memorial (peace vigil) and between encouraging passing motorists to honky, was enjoying the cornices, windows, ped-friendly views of the nearby buildings. Out here in the Twps, there is no there here.

But also an Arby's, Perkins, IHop, McD's, and not one but TWO Starbucks!!

[vendor took me to Olive Express for lunch; I'm on garlic and tabouli]

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The term "list mom" is common on list serves, which are basically forums like this only they communicate by e-mail rather than a web page. As someone else mentioned, a list mom is a moderator. Chris didn't think you were a chick, he was just using some internet lingo that not in common use anymore.

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The term "list mom" is common on list serves, which are basically forums like this only they communicate by e-mail rather than a web page. As someone else mentioned, a list mom is a moderator. Chris didn't think you were a chick, he was just using some internet lingo that not in common use anymore.

:dunno:

I think most of us understood the tone?

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The term "list mom" is common on list serves, which are basically forums like this only they communicate by e-mail rather than a web page. As someone else mentioned, a list mom is a moderator. Chris didn't think you were a chick, he was just using some internet lingo that not in common use anymore.

Ah, thanks APK. I had not heard that term before.

Chris has another update today

Streetcars, light rail -- if a big corporation moved downtown those should be supported by the company and worked into whatever incentive package is used to lure the jobs. I think light rail or streetcars would be underutilized if they were not built around a major new traffic generator like a corporate HQ. Do them before and you're left with a cash-draining albatross along the lines of a Detroit Trolley or People Mover. Do them in conjunction with a major private investment and you've got (I hate this word, but it fits) synergy.

I agree, parking lot conversions will need to happen. But, in this town, I believe surface lots are extremely profitable, relatively low-cost investments for the city

Can't wait to have coffee. I have some numbers to show Chris that will dispel this perpetuated "myth" pretty quickly. Why would a corporation agree to pay for a mass transit system for the metro area? And how would adding 1000 new workers to the already 30 - 35,000 workers and students downtown (which would be great BTW) be the tipping point for mass transit? It's a drop in the bucket. In his list of possible corporate HQ sites, he forgot to figure which accompanying 8 acre lot would contain all the parking, since the city's current parking system is maxed out.

Mass transit is going to have to come from we the people because it will benefit we the people.

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I think light rail or streetcars would be underutilized if they were not built around a major new traffic generator like a corporate HQ. Do them before and you're left with a cash-draining albatross along the lines of a Detroit Trolley or People Mover. Do them in conjunction with a major private investment and you've got (I hate this word, but it fits) synergy.

So downtown isn't the traffic generator anymore its just one business or headquarters?

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  • GRDadof3 changed the title to Parking problem downtown - too much of it? Not enough?

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