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Too many parking lots.

The number of parking spaces for parking requirements are most likely too high. Reduce the number of spaces and add covered bike racks.

Photo of Craig Richards

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Parking lots are hot and gross. Abundant parking encourages driving creating more congestion. A majority of trips from the home under 4 miles are done by car, which would take less than a half hour by bike.

I would suggest reducing the amount of required parking spaces for new business and supplementing bike racks and lanes to encourage more use.

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Photo of Tom Bulten

Thanks for joining the forum, Craig. I'm one of the facilitators here.

Laura Muresan  makes a similar point, noting that "downtown is not a destination because of the many lovely parking lots." https://challenges.cityoftomorrow.com/challenge/grand-rapids/explore/nowhere-to-park/comments#!c-43feaeeecd7b2fe2ae2e26d917b6477d

Others have expressed concerns about the lack and high cost of parking spaces.

Do you have any thoughts about the challenge of winter bicycle commuting?

Photo of Craig Richards

Hey what's up Tom Bulten !

I had included a link to a video from vox but it seems to be missing from my original post
( https://www.vox.com/videos/2017/7/19/15993936/high-cost-of-free-parking )

I hadn't seen that other post, which is interesting. Personally, whenever I've had to drive downtown I've always parked in one of the structures and i've never felt I was paying too much. But normally if I'm going downtown I do it by bike exclusively.

I was thinking in terms of the sprawl areas like Laura Muresan mentioned. I work over by the airport and cutting through the businesses near 28th st. (and it's over-sized unoccupied parking lot) got me thinking this morning.

When it comes to parking downtown, does lack of parking mean at their destination, near their destination, or as far as they're willing to walk to their destination? Would the addition of more ramps as well as adding on to the skywalk alleviate some of this? Because the skywalk of Grand Rapids is awesome, but it's wayyyyyyyyyy too short. Whenever I hear about a lack of parking downtown I remember the GIANT lot near Charley's Crab & The Van Andel. A structure there, for instance could handle the load of the Van Andel and Charley's Crab and still open up enough room for more new development.

When it comes to parking structures, and I know I'm going a little off topic here, I'd rather see the ground levels of them be commercial & retail spaces so we're not dedicating the space just to parking.

Winter commuting for me is non-existant because I work near 44th & the Beltline which is the worst area to commute to by bike (in my opinion).

Winter Bicycle Commuting in general can be a challenge
Bike lanes are hard to spot and not often cleared. If you haven't set aside the money for a specific winter bike, it can cause a lot of damage to the regular bicycle especially if the lanes aren't clear and ice & salt are building up in the gears.

The other challenge of winter bicycle commuting is that it's not always the easiest for the employee. Bike friendly businesses are great and help improve our standing in the bike friendly cities ranking (tourism points) but in order to qualify the businesses need to hit a certain criteria, which would include bike storage, changing & showering facilities, employee incentives and other things which make life a little easier for the bike commuter. But a lack of these things in the winter time compound the already difficult nature of biking in the winter time (IMO).

Photo of Craig Richards

Further reading on why there should be no Free Parking that extrapolates some of the ideas from the previous link.

https://www.vox.com/2014/6/27/5849280/why-free-parking-is-bad-for-everyone

The last bit where they talk about setting up an experiment in San Fransisco that monitored parking space use is particularly interesting.

Photo of Laura Muresan

I think a lack of parking means a lack of free parking, or lack of really cheap parking. Those who want to park might be trying to find the cheapest spots first. That means driving around the block a few times. If the cheapest spots (meters, especially meters after hours) are taken or hard to find, then it gives these people the impression that it's hard to park downtown. If all the spots in a general vicinity were the same price, regardless of whether or not it's a meter or a lot, people might learn to go straight to the parking ramp. In a way, I think it's not that there's not enough parking, it's that there are too many options, which makes it overwhelming, just like the toothpaste aisle.

Photo of Craig Richards

And of course, searching for a parking space means one more car in congestion.

Photo of Laura Muresan

Interesting, Craig. Thanks for posting the article.

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