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

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I thought I'd resurrect this topic with this article:

Parking Lots Outnumber People, Add to Pollution

Sprawling suburban parking spaces outnumber drivers by three to one in a Midwestern county, a finding that typifies a troubling trend nationwide that increases urban heating and pollution, researchers say.

Digitalized aerial surveys taken in 2005 were used to calculate the total area devoted to parking lots in Indiana's Tippecanoe County and revealed the paved lots covered an area larger than 1,000 football fields and that there were three times as many parking spaces as drivers who lived in the county, said study leader Bryan Pijanowski of Purdue University.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/200709...82vWBfmvykDW7oF

Edited by jbr12

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I thought I'd resurrect this topic with this article:

Parking Lots Outnumber People, Add to Pollution

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/200709...82vWBfmvykDW7oF

Thanks for the link jbr12! It also reminds me of the article I read about the big parking problems at GRCC.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ss....xml&coll=6

Is seems like suburban park-n-rides would be a lot cheaper than this silly "gambling" that these students do.

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Wow! Check out this article. This history of parking and all its ills in a nutshell...

"Our story begins in the 1920s with the birth of a piece of esoteric regulation, the "minimum parking requirement." Before parking meters and residential parking permits, cities feared that they were running out of street parking. So municipalities began ordering businesses to provide parking and wrote zoning restrictions to ensure it. Columbus, Ohio, was first, requiring apartment buildings in 1923 to provide parking. In 1939, Fresno, Calif., decreed that hospitals and hotels must do the same. By the '50s, the parking trend exploded. In 1946, only 17 percent of cities had parking requirements. Five years later, 71 percent did.

Today, those regulations could fill a book, and do. The American Planning Association's compendium of regulations, "Parking Standards," numbers 181 pages. It lists the minimum parking requirements for everything from abattoirs to zoos. It is a city planner's bible.

To Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at UCLA, parking requirements are a bane of the country. "Parking requirements create great harm: they subsidize cars, distort transportation choices, warp urban form, increase housing costs, burden low income households, debase urban design, damage the economy, and degrade the environment," he writes in his book, "The High Cost of Free Parking."

Americans don't object, because they aren't aware of the myriad costs of parking, which remain hidden. In large part, it's business owners, including commercial and residential landlords, who pay to provide parking places. They then pass on those costs to us in slightly higher prices for rent and every hamburger sold.

"Parking appears free because its cost is widely dispersed in slightly higher prices for everything else," explains Shoup. "Because we buy and use cars without thinking about the cost of parking, we congest traffic, waste fuel, and pollute the air more than we would if we each paid for our own parking. Everyone parks free at everyone else's expense, and we all enjoy our free parking, but our cars are choking our cities."

Read the full story here ----> We Paved Paradise

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Well, my second car died. Won't start. I'm here in Wayland with no job, leaving me to look to 5-or-so businesses within biking distance for employment (yeah right) to pay my bills with. I've had it with cars, I consistently get screwed over by them, and frankly, I was rolling in dough before I ever got a car. Ever since it's been one financial woe after another for 3 straight years.

So, now I'm trying to find a friend to live with in town for a while so I can re-open my employment options.. and I don't think I'll ever buy a money pit... I mean, car.. again.

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Well, my second car died. Won't start. I'm here in Wayland with no job, leaving me to look to 5-or-so businesses within biking distance for employment (yeah right) to pay my bills with. I've had it with cars, I consistently get screwed over by them, and frankly, I was rolling in dough before I ever got a car. Ever since it's been one financial woe after another for 3 straight years.

So, now I'm trying to find a friend to live with in town for a while so I can re-open my employment options.. and I don't think I'll ever buy a money pit... I mean, car.. again.

How about a nice Crown Vic? Or a DASH bus? Sewer cleaner? You could make some dough on the side!

http://grcity.us/index.pl?page_id=6172

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Well, my second car died. Won't start. I'm here in Wayland with no job, leaving me to look to 5-or-so businesses within biking distance for employment (yeah right) to pay my bills with. I've had it with cars, I consistently get screwed over by them, and frankly, I was rolling in dough before I ever got a car. Ever since it's been one financial woe after another for 3 straight years.

So, now I'm trying to find a friend to live with in town for a while so I can re-open my employment options.. and I don't think I'll ever buy a money pit... I mean, car.. again.

Wow, that's a total buzzkill. Sorry to hear about it. Check out www.indeed.com. They are a job site aggregator and pull listings from all over. Saves searching on multiple services.

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Didn't know where else to put this - but here's a pretty interesting slideshow on parking grarages - Garage Mahals

Just watched the photo essay, Muske...as much as I hate encouraging driving into urban cores, they have some awesome designs in the slide show. Bottom line: if you think it's necessary to build a parking garage, do it right!

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This is a pretty good article about bar-hopping at three newer bars downtown, and Billy's in Easttown:

http://blog.mlive.com/soundcheck/2008/02/a...nture.html#more

But what struck me as odd is the whole paragraph about parking. If they were going to River City Slims, Founders and Hopcat, aren't those bars close enough to each other to get a spot at one of the lots South of the arena and walk to each? Instead of trying to find parking at each bar? :wacko: It's Friday night. I doubt you'll find onstreet parking anywhere downtown unless you get lucky.

Or why didn't they spring for a cab?

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...But what struck me as odd is the whole paragraph about parking. If they were going to River City Slims, Founders and Hopcat, aren't those bars close enough to each other to get a spot at one of the lots South of the arena and walk to each? Instead of trying to find parking at each bar? :wacko: It's Friday night. I doubt you'll find onstreet parking anywhere downtown unless you get lucky.

Or why didn't they spring for a cab?

It reads to me like they each came in separate cars and converged, not that they moved cars each time.

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Chances are there was an event going on downtown if they're paying that much to park in every lot. An often overlooked parking lot, centrally located to most places downtown, is the lot across the street from McFadden's. It takes quarters or dollar bills and only costs 3 dollars. If there's an event forget about it since its card access only.

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It reads to me like they each came in separate cars and converged, not that they moved cars each time.

Well that begs the question of "why didn't they converge outside of downtown and ride together in one car?". That's what most of the people I know do. I'm just surprised because it was written by a guy who covers the Grand Rapids entertainment scene.

I'm one of the first ones to complain about $7 event parking, but when you split that between a bunch of people (or split cab fare), it's nothing.

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Well that begs the question of "why didn't they converge outside of downtown and ride together in one car?". That's what most of the people I know do. I'm just surprised because it was written by a guy who covers the Grand Rapids entertainment scene.

I'm one of the first ones to complain about $7 event parking, but when you split that between a bunch of people (or split cab fare), it's nothing.

Message off to Sinks.

ETA: here's your answer, Jeff.

OK, after some urbanplanet.org discussion about the inefficiency of my downtown parking plan during my "most excellent adventure," I guess I should explain the car/parking thing better. Charley and I did meet at a central location, then took a single car downtown. Our other buddy chose to meet us at the first watering hole because he was coming from a different direction.

A couple of things:

1) I was approaching this experiment like somebody who was just going to one of these bars for the first time (not like somebody who was hitting all four bars in one night). For that reason, I wanted to explore potential parking around each venue separately. And from that perspective, there really was very little convenient (or cheap) parking available nearby, especially on a ridiculously cold winter evening.

2) Not having been to any of these three downtown-area bars before, it really was something of a guessing game as to what kind of parking we'd find nearby on a Friday in late January. I'm very familiar with the surface lots downtown (especially around the arena), but even some of these surprisingly were full. I did suggest walking to Founders from our original $7 parking space, though Charley thought it'd be too far. (In good weather, I'd definitely make the hike).

3) After this adventure, I would definitely take the advice of one of those commenting on urbanplanet.com: I'd strongly recommend car-pooling or maybe even taking a cab to frequent these downtown watering holes.

It's the right thing to do environmentally, it's cheaper and it's probably more fun. But I still think plenty of folks would find the parking situation frustrating, especially if they were trying to check out one of these places for the first time ...

Edited by Veloise

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Another school year begins and not enough parking. Seriously, the solution would be for GRCC to buy up some HH homes and tear them down for surface parking. Obviously some kind of shuttle bus system or light rail is fool-hearty.

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The issue with GRCC is this. You have 28,000 students going to the school. I would venture you would need to tripple the size of the main ramp to even get close to serving all of the students that drive there. The other thing I would suggest is to move all instructor parking to the corner ramp on lyon and crescent. That should make the parking there better. The only other solution would be to have GRCC and DASH come up with a parking ramp structure in several locations to bus the students to the college. Doing the second solution you could put one near Burton and Division, one at Michigan and East Beltline, one for the west side of GR, and a final one near the North Monroe hotel. Have it where the students can use their pay card to pay for the parking at a low rate and it would be solved. Not sure how big each ramp would need to be but GRCC does have the numbers to give it a shot.

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ORRRRRRRR- How about if GRCC contributes to the Rapid system and allows all GRCC students to ride for free similar to GVSU? Then promote park & ride lots on the fringes that have easy bus parking. This is how U of M attacks the parking problem...

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The issue with GRCC is this. You have 28,000 students going to the school. I would venture you would need to tripple the size of the main ramp to even get close to serving all of the students that drive there. The other thing I would suggest is to move all instructor parking to the corner ramp on lyon and crescent. That should make the parking there better. The only other solution would be to have GRCC and DASH come up with a parking ramp structure in several locations to bus the students to the college. Doing the second solution you could put one near Burton and Division, one at Michigan and East Beltline, one for the west side of GR, and a final one near the North Monroe hotel. Have it where the students can use their pay card to pay for the parking at a low rate and it would be solved. Not sure how big each ramp would need to be but GRCC does have the numbers to give it a shot.

Honestly, I think if they were anywhere outside of downtown, they could just do surface lots/shuttles. They wouldn't need to do ramps. Even if 2000 students used the shuttle system a day, that's a big chunk of students and lot fewer cars downtown. A park-n-ride lot near the new BRT route seems like a no-brainer, since the BRT will go right through GRCC.

And jbr12's idea is good too...

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If you have the stoonts parking at a shuttle location (say, Alpine Meijer), you have a transit node.

And if I were Fred, I would pay The Rapid to bring me a couple hundred more customers every day.

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Your ideas about park and rides and shuttles are good, but there are many other things GRCC should examine as well:

1) Raise parking fees - no, not popular, but sometimes getting people to pay attention and change their travel choices requires tough love; And it wouldn't have to be "one-size fits all approach". GRCC should look at various price levels and who would or would not be charged and when.

2) As someone mentioned, charge the students a few bucks per semester for a student transit pass. Sounds like GVCC does something similar. Of course, that may depend upon what services The Rapid can or will provide.

3) Set up a carpool/schoolpool program tailored to GRCC, so students, faculty and staff are encouraged to share the ride. If there is enough need, consider setting up vanpool programs. The local metropolitan planning organization should be able to help, if there are not any "robust' rideshare programs in the area that could provide assistance, at this time.

4) Offer parking "cash outs" to staff and faculty, maybe even students. If someone gives up his or her parking space or privileges to park (at least on a regular basis), they get additional money. I don't know all the particulars, but there are IRS limits to consider. Still, if someone can get some cash in their pocket by not driving, more might consider it, especially if they have other options.

5) Encourage as many as possible to live close to campus, particularly students, so walking and biking (and even taking the bus) are more convenient. Even if only a relative few choose to live closer to downtown GR, it might make a big difference on those long lines into the garage. GRCC can actively educate students and staff about the benefits, monetary and otherwise, to driving less and also be a clearinghouse for appropriate housing and transportation options. Also, by the looks of it, the City should be working with GRCC to address the parking problem since that is impacting traffic flow on city streets and has to be increasing pollutant emissions, among other negative effects.

6) Probably before any serious efforts get started, GRCC needs to know who drives, how often, from what distances and directions, etc., to get a better handle on what the issues really are and how most effectively to address them. A driver/commuter survey is a good way to start.

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Another school year begins and not enough parking. Seriously, the solution would be for GRCC to buy up some HH homes and tear them down for surface parking. Obviously some kind of shuttle bus system or light rail is fool-hearty.

[/quote)

Great photos, Dad. In knew GRCC was a commuter school, but your photos really underscore the downside of that. The student count, 28,000, is a surprisingly large figure, and begs the question of where most of these students are coming from. My guess: still living at home with Mom and Dad in the 'Burbs, so they've got to drive into the city. Imagine if even a third of them where living within walking distance, in Belknap Hill for example. I went to the University of Texas at Austin (student pop: 49,500), which is right in the center of town, we either walked or biked or took the free bus system that ran all over town, or at least the major arteries. Getting a pass to park on campus was almost impossible.

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Great photos, Dad. In knew GRCC was a commuter school, but your photos really underscore the downside of that. The student count, 28,000, is a surprisingly large figure, and begs the question of where most of these students are coming from. My guess: still living at home with Mom and Dad in the 'Burbs, so they've got to drive into the city. Imagine if even a third of them where living within walking distance, in Belknap Hill for example. I went to the University of Texas at Austin (student pop: 49,500), which is right in the center of town, we either walked or biked or took the free bus system that ran all over town, or at least the major arteries. Getting a pass to park on campus was almost impossible.

I didn't even get shots of the cars lining Division down to Pearl, around Pearl West to Ionia, Lyon backing up into Heritage Hill, etc. They even had GRCC police officers directing traffic in at least 4 locations.

I do however see a lot of students walking from Heritage Hill, so there are a lot of students who live close. I'd be interested to see the numbers, as Explorer55 suggests. And to be honest, jacking up the parking costs forcing kids to take public transit or live closer is EXACTLY what GVSU has been doing.

http://www.mlive.com/grpress/opinion/index...sit_policy.html

They cut cars on campus from 13,754 to 8846 in four years, despite huge jumps in student population and increased housing on campus.

It seems like the benefits to GRCC might be many-fold: better quality of life for students, faculty and staff; less wear and tear on ramps; extra room to update buildings and give the campus a fresh new look; more environmentally friendly; students getting to class on time; and other benefits I can't think of right now. :)

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I remember the DASH system is mentioned in the orientation, and one of the professors even suggested it on the first day. The RAPID is setting up a booth in the commons on Thursday to promote the use of the bus, And I think I remember seeing something about a carpooling program. I wonder how much of this will blow over in a few weeks as people get used to where things are.

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Another school year begins and not enough parking. Seriously, the solution would be for GRCC to buy up some HH homes and tear them down for surface parking. Obviously some kind of shuttle bus system or light rail is fool-hearty.

Given that Kent County voted down GRCC's two millage requests - it's unlikely they have the money to buy up enough Heritage Hill real estate to build and then maintain another parking ramp. That is, of course, assuming they could even get approval/permits to plunk an ugly parking ramp down in the middle of a residential neighborhood (which is highly unlikely).

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The issue with GRCC is this. You have 28,000 students going to the school. I would venture you would need to tripple the size of the main ramp to even get close to serving all of the students that drive there. The other thing I would suggest is to move all instructor parking to the corner ramp on lyon and crescent. That should make the parking there better. The only other solution would be to have GRCC and DASH come up with a parking ramp structure in several locations to bus the students to the college. Doing the second solution you could put one near Burton and Division, one at Michigan and East Beltline, one for the west side of GR, and a final one near the North Monroe hotel. Have it where the students can use their pay card to pay for the parking at a low rate and it would be solved. Not sure how big each ramp would need to be but GRCC does have the numbers to give it a shot.

The 28,000 figure includes all the credit and non-credit students for the entire year; so in that number are all of the students served at the outlying campuses and other regional centers (like the local public schools that GRCC offers classes in after hours), online students, and people who attend one-time training seminars that the college provides. The actual for-credit enrollment is over 15,000 per semester and of that number, only around 3,000-4,000 students are actually on campus during any given day.

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ORRRRRRRR- How about if GRCC contributes to the Rapid system and allows all GRCC students to ride for free similar to GVSU? Then promote park & ride lots on the fringes that have easy bus parking. This is how U of M attacks the parking problem...

GRCC does subsidize student participation in the Rapid transit system (specifically the DASH shuttle system) and the college has been regularly maxing out its participation and has been looking for other options; for example it explored setting up an alternate DASH site in the Woodland Mall parking lots, and using the Tassell M-TEC on the southeast side as another DASH location.

Unfortunately mass transit options have been affected lately by the combination of the Spectrum construction and the City's inability to finish the construction on Lyon street on time (so the bus stops have been diverted to alternate locations until later this month).

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