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


GRDadof3

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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: [...]

All good suggestions - and GRCC is exploring all of them (I'm on the parking task force at the college).

  • The college has raised parking fees in recent years including changing how it assesses students for parking (though given the relative economic disadvantage GRCC students tend to be at, the college tries to minimize the economic hardship on them)
  • The college subsidizes mass transit for students in the form of the DASH shuttle system
  • The college just joined up with an online carpool application called "Greenride" that allows people to set up profile (anonymously if they wish, to protect their private information) and find potential carpoolers in proximity to them by searching based on location, dates, times, and other features. Several other local companies and schools are either signed up or are in the process of signing up so that the database of people to draw from will continue to grow. It just started this semester and there are already nearly 550 people signed up: www.grcc.edu/greenride
  • GRCC employees are now charged a fee to park on campus (which didn't used to be the case a few years ago)
  • The environmental impact factors prominently into the college's planning and the college is factoring it into the long-term plan for the campus - because eventually it's likely one of the college's parking ramps will reach the end of its life soon (and it's been discussed that instead of building a new one, the college use the resources to subsidize greener mass transit options)
  • The college does have research data on when and where students come from which it is studying; that has led to the college looking into helping carpooling on the west side of Kent County because there is a sizeable population that commutes from Ottawa County during a common time/period during the week.
  • The college is also working with the RAPID on other mass transit options (like a proposed spur on the southwest side of the city).

It's great to see that other folks in the community are thinking about these things.

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Wow, thanks for the info rollngrnade. Sounds like GRCC is getting aggressive about using mass transit. And I like the fact that in GRCC's long range plans they may not be looking at replacing those awful parking ramps. Since the proposed BRT is planned to run up Ransom, maybe the Ransom ramp can be replaced with a new mixed-use, residential, retail, student center, transit station, "all under one roof" kind of development. :shades: Or at a bare minimum, a parking ramp "liner development" like 38 Commerce.

Like the infamous Portland State University Streetcar shot:

http://www.railwaypreservation.com/vintage...etcar_30_sm.JPG

only with BRT.

BTW: I was just kidding about knocking down homes in HH. It takes a while to pick up on my sarcasm. :P

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Is the "parking task force" some sort of group that involves students into it or is it run only by employees of the college?

I think more promotion of park-and-riding with the DASH system could be helpful. (It'd also be helpful if the RAPID provided a map and schedule for it, I've still yet to use it because I just don't know where it goes and how quickly it will take me to where I need to be.)

The traffic leading to GRCC is horrible. It was even worse today, the traffic was so bad I actually left the bus a few stops early and ran to the campus (beating the bus but still late for class.) Normally this isn't a problem, but this morning's traffic was exceptionally horrendous. There's all these cars stuck in gridlock going nowhere, certainly frustrated by the traffic, yet no signage anywhere suggesting alternative transportation. I think it would probably be very beneficial to have large signs along the busiest areas suggesting ways to avoid the traffic. Signs pointing to other parking options. Signs advertising the Rapid. Signs promoting carpooling.

Also, I feel GRCC needs more bicycle parking. The only parking place I've seen is on the south end of the commons, and is usually jam-packed with bicycles. So are the trees near the bicycle racks. So are the lightposts near the bicycle racks. I'm thinking several bicycle racks could be placed around the campus so bicyclists can park closer to where it's convenient for them and to relieve the bicycle parking crunch in the south commons. Perhaps add one to the north end of the commons, in front of the Music Building, and in front of the ATC. Touch the four corners of the main part of the campus.

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Great questions and input. The Parking Task Force is comprised of students and employees (in fact, if you wanted to get involved - you could stop by the Student Life office and inquire about it). I'll pass along your concerns about promoting alternative modes of transportation. Unfortunately it's always a challenge to get information out to students given how much competition there is for everyone's attention - especially the first few weeks of school.

I do know of one map of the DASH routes that the college has on its site here, for what it's worth. It actually used to be very difficult to get students interested in the DASH or RAPID options; we had employees going around to all of the cars parked in gridlock with literature - but some students were (and are) perfectly content to sit in their cars burning gas while they do their homework (no lie). In that way, high gas prices have had a positive impact in reducing the number of students who can afford to be wasteful like that.

Unfortunately with all of the construction, there aren't many ways to avoid the traffic (and even the routes that are available are frequently subject to change as heavy equipment and supply deliveries block the roads, or as the city adds new construction projects). It's typically worst the first couple of weeks of school - but then people figure out alternate ways to get to campus. There are updates and information available on the site though: www.grcc.edu/construction

The college agrees with you on bicycle parking; in fact we just added a bunch more (and hopefully we'll continue to add more and more). You can find a list of the bike rack locations at www.grcc.edu/bike - I'll suggest that they put together a map showing the bike locations.

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Today I notised I was wrong and that there is in fact other bicycle parking locations. I saw one outside the Music Building and the ATC. Not sure why I had not notised them before, perhaps I just wasn't looking for it. But yes, the bicycle parking at the south end of the commons is overflowing with bicycles. If a map is put together, perhaps it could be posted near the bike racks and major gateways, at the very least at the south end of the commons. I wonder how many other students park there not realising there's other options simply because they are not actively seeking it out.

The RAPID was in the commons today (with a full-size bus, even) and the woman there was VERY knowledgeable. Apparently because the DASH is paid for by the city parking comission, they are in charge of the route maps and schedules. Maps, (very basic) schedules, and detours are found in PDF here: http://www.grand-rapids.mi.us/index.pl?page_id=407

Coming from the south, I suppose I'll stick with taking the #6 (maybe the #9, it goes nearby though not as closely, but might not be almost full at 7:30AM like the #6 is.)

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  • 3 years later...

Found it! Bump!!

Ah yes, some of my best work. I still subscribe to the notion.

From discussions I've had with city leaders since this, parking is probably one of the the most contentious and complicated issues a downtown business district can face.

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I say build as much parking as humanly possible. Just build it up (10 stories, minimum), with horizontally oriented windows, and ground floor retail. Then stick another 15 floors of office and residential on top of it. And slather the whole complex in white marbleized terra cotta. Or granite. Granite is good, too. Car elevators would also be neat, too--like they have in Japan. That wash your car when you drive into them. "Car palaces," we could call them.

There is already so much parking downtown that it boggles the mind. It's all just overpriced to the hilt (but see below), which causes people (and rightfully so) to whine about it endlessly. Breaking the City monopoly would (presumably) do a lot of good. Will they even allow a private party (other than Ellis) to put up a ramp these days? Or are they so thoroughly drunk on parking ramp lucre that they get the shakes just thinking about getting off of it?

(Riddle me this: Why would you give away premium street parking FOR NOTHING while charging through the nose for a ramp? This is the 21st century fer goodness sakes alive; Would it be that complicated to have dynamic pricing for all of it?)

Edited by x99
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I'd just like to see the lots actually open for parking. The lots around the Arena were unavailable all day (for public parking). If this was because of the Nickelback concert, we may be entering the end of days. LOL.

Honestly, even with my 'usual' parking lots closed (slightly inconvenient), I had about 1200 other spots to choose from in a four-five block area. Not a problem... If the perfect storm of development happened and the Arena was expanded, Celebration Cinema built on one lot, and Rockford construction built on the lot they have optioned, we may need to look at parking options. Until then, I think people need to just walk a few blocks. It really ISN'T hard to find parking downtown...

Joe

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I tell people where I live now who "can't find parking" downtown, to venture down there more often. The more they go down there and park, the more familiar they'll be with where the parking is and where to find cheaper parking. I have my favorite spots and go directly to them when I go downtown. I also suggest they go online to websites specifically dedicated to showing available on and off street parking in the downtown area. We also have the option of a pretty good transit system in this community, so taking light rail or even an express bus is a convenient option. And on nice days, they can even bike.

In GR and many places, I think it's the fear of not knowing where parking is, of unfamiliar territory and one way streets that freaks out a lot of people. That and maybe actually paying directly for parking (instead of them paying for it indirectly in other ways) and, OMG!, having to walk a couple of blocks....

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Downtown parking really is a cost-benefit proposition. At $15,000 per space, I would much rather see public resources going towards improving downtown public transit. At the end of the day, dedicated transit is going to add greater economic vitality, look better, and accommodate more people and growth than endless investments in parking garages (assuming that you are of the belief that downtown will continue to thrive). One can argue that users pay for parking directly whereas transit requires tax on everyone, but that's a bit of a strawman argument.

Continued investment to support downtown parking requires additional subsidy to reduce congestion, eats up valuable land that would otherwise be used for tax-producing development (underground parking costs $45,000/space), and reduces local government's bonding capacity to invest in other projects. I'm not saying that parking is not vital to the existence of downtowns. What I am saying is that at some point, the costs (direct and societal) exceeds the benefit...especially when superior alternatives begin to present themselves. I believe downtown GR is reaching that point and we may be finally reaching the density to dust off the streetcar/BRT circulator plans. I propose a route that uses Monroe/Leonard/Seward/Front/Wealthy/Ionia/Michigan/Monroe.

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  • 2 weeks later...

  • 2 weeks later...

I'd just like to see the lots actually open for parking. The lots around the Arena were unavailable all day (for public parking). If this was because of the Nickelback concert, we may be entering the end of days. LOL.

Honestly, even with my 'usual' parking lots closed (slightly inconvenient), I had about 1200 other spots to choose from in a four-five block area. Not a problem... If the perfect storm of development happened and the Arena was expanded, Celebration Cinema built on one lot, and Rockford construction built on the lot they have optioned, we may need to look at parking options. Until then, I think people need to just walk a few blocks. It really ISN'T hard to find parking downtown...

Joe

I agree. Finding parking is (and always has been) easy if you are willing to walk a few blocks. I have no idea how this would work, but would also like to see our fair city figure out a better way to deal with shared parking arrangements. Existing parking lots should be filled 24-7 before more is built. Otherwise it seems awfully inefficient, and it makes everything more expensive.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 5 months later...

Has anyone in here been reading the huge debate on dt parking on mlive. I got a huge kick out of it!

 

 

You mean this?

http://www.mlive.com/opinion/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2013/01/despite_reader_debate_schulers.html#incart_2box

 

Oy vey.  I would never think of anything that takes place on MLive as reaching the level of "debate." :rolleyes:

 

I agree with the Fehsenfelds.  Every time I went to Schuler I found an open meter on Fountain.  Any time of day, any day of the week.  That's how dead Fountain Street is.  Or maybe I'm just lucky.

 

Some people just think paying for parking is a scam and will never do it.  Some people are embarrassed with their parallel parking skills and won't admit it.  But overall I think some people just don't want to go downtown because they're used to suburban environments, whereas downtown makes them uncomfortable, and they use parking as an excuse.  Only a person under duress could possibly get lost in a street layout as simple as GR's; or be thrown off by a traffic circle; or not see the multitude of parking spaces everywhere; or be willing to walk across a Meijer parking lot the size of a football field, but not a single city block.  Intelligent adults (and even some the smarter monkeys) are able to do these things.  Somehow the people who can't tend to overpopulate the comments sections of MLive.

 

And that's my psychoanalytical dissertation of the day.

 

Sorry I'm being pedantic to the Urbanplanet choir.  There were just a lot of dumb comments in the link.

Edited by RegalTDP
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Has anyone in here been reading the huge debate on dt parking on mlive. I got a huge kick out of it!

Read it?!? I'm in with both feet. Check it out, folks, it can only get better.

 

Would love to suggest that the one lost soul might have trouble finding the car keys. How does that one even get DT? (Or pass the drivers license re-up test? Wait, did I just type that??)

 

I "didn't know" there was a bookstore DT is another great line. Must.resist.urge to suggest that books/reading/comprehension are not at the forethought...

Edited by Veloise
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If Mlive ran an article announcing that someone found the cure for all disease, Mlive commenters would find a reason to be pissed off. :) I agree. I generally can't scroll down as my blood boils when I read the comments.

 

Joe

 

Recently my wife has made me swear that whenever I read MLive, that I will NOT scroll down to read the comments section.  It is too hard on my blood pressure, regardless of the topic.  :shok:

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I think some of the comments are legitimate. If you created a software that you thought was the best in the world, and easy to use, but many of your customers couldn't figure out how to use it, or thought it was too expensive for what they got, or were intimidated by it, you'd have a losing business formula. And the answer wouldn't be to market it more, or give people a free trial....

 

Unfortunately I think Grand Rapids is stuck in that mid-sized city downtown retail conundrum. Comparisons to Chicago are silly on so many levels. In fact, I absolutely loath parking in Chicago. If you park in one of those surface lots, you have people (shifty looking people many times) driving your car within inches of other cars and triple and quadruple parking them. You leave your car and you wonder if it will still be there when you return. The ramps are $50/day. We've actually (as a family) switched to staying at hotels in the Chicago burbs (where we can get a suite for way cheaper than a tiny bunkroom at the downtown Sheraton with no charge for overnight parking), and then we ride the Metra into downtown (which is like $3/person). Or we'll take the South Shore Line from Michigan City.

 

Those options aren't really realistic here. No one would park-n-ride on a train to downtown GR to go shopping. It's not a destination. Then you have downtown shopping areas that have free parking, like Holland, Gaslight Village, East Hills, Traverse City, etc. that are pretty successful.

 

Someone please figure out this riddle and you can be a millionaire.

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

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