The esteemed people of Planetizen.com are just some of the people talking about car parking challenges this week -
Ian Sacs, Hoboken’s own Department of Transportation and Parking Director, writes an engaging and informative piece on how the exceptionally dense but car-enamored city is anticipating its urban parking problems and introducing Flexcar, bicycle infrastructure, and connectivity improvements to reduce the immense waste that car parking lots can be. You can read the whole article here.
Parking is an incredibly challenging issue for any architect, planner or transportation engineer. Parking spaces can cost upwards of $50,000 and other than hold a car for a bit, consume an incredible amount of wasted space. Interestingly, it is precisely these costs that are driving developers and politicians towards active transportation (rather than health or fun).
Portland State University (like Miami-Dade College, one of its downtown’s largest land holders) has been struggling with this issue. In a recent article in the Portland Daily Vanguard, writer Vinh Tran points out that PSU’s newest bicycle parking facility will provide parking for 75 students at the same cost of just adding 4 car spaces.
Here in Miami, some residents of Miami Beach are getting vocal about the increasing costs of parking. An article in The Miami Herald has spurred comments from residents who can’t believe they will have to pay $15 to park ON Lincoln Road. (That’s it!?) This writer wonders why anyone would choose to live in the densest, most pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in our county and then want to drive anywhere-
Parking is a global problem. In countries as (seemingly) different as Italy and Japan, vertical parking is popular:
…so transportation engineers who can think out of the box and design successful parking alternatives are in demand. Naturally, so are those of us who advocate for even less consumption of space - by traveling by bicycle, on foot or mass transit.
UPDATE: This afternoon, we received a link to a great image that shows Chicago’s proactive work on increasing bicycle parking in the last year alone. Our hats off to the people at Active Transportation Alliance, who largely deserve the credit for these successes. Wouldn’t it be great if the BPAC or City of Miami Bicycle Action Committee delivered work like this?
What are your ideas for addressing an ever increasing need for car parking in an ever shrinking urban environment?
** 3/30/09 UPDATE: The New World Symphony happily reports that the park will still be built, regardless of the parking issue. Transit Miami apologizes for misinterpreting the Miami Herald article, which clearly confused the issue by reporting contradictory statements in their own article. TM is planning to meet with the NWS to review the plans further and will share our findings after a review. **
Many Beach dwellers, myself not included, have long awaited the arrival of celebrity ‘star’chitect Frank Gehry’s addition to the New World Symphony, a public-private venture being hailed as a new ‘city center’ for Miami Beach. Clearly intended to raise the NWS’s profile and add to the civic core of Miami Beach, Gehry’s plans also contain a 520 space parking garage and a new 2-acre park.
While I personally question Gehry’s ability to create a dynamic public space, the park is certainly a needed amenity in this portion of Miami Beach. However, according to an article in the Herald yesterday, the rising cost of buliding the garage inspired Miami Beach City Commission to vote 5-2 in favor of changing the development agreement.
The new agreement uses the money devoted to the park to fund the cost over-run on the 520 car garage. What is more, the designated park space will likely become an additional 175 parking spaces because the City Commission says the NWS is not meeting its parking requirement, which allows the City to pull $6 million dollars worth of public funding out from underneath the Symphony.
In what sane world do we exchange a public good like needed park space for parking? As Commissioner Diaz rightly noted, this is indeed “a travesty.”
Before moving forward with what promises to be an over-designed parking garage, maybe city officials should research where Symphony attendees are traveling from. Do they all require parking spaces? Don’t people tend to enjoy the symphony in groups, which allows for a higher occupancy per vehicle? Won’t a good number of visitors come from the beach as residents or tourists? Why another 700+ spaces? Wouldn’t 520 be enough?
There are a slew of other problems implied in the story, mostly that 700+ parking spaces will only contribute to auto-dependence, congestion, and pollution on Miami Beach. Feel free to vent your frustration in the comments section.
We often times refer to the automobile as the culprit behind much of our congestion and sprawling woes when perhaps we should attribute more of our attention simply to the amount of parking made available in our cities. Like cars, parking lots degrade our cities on two fronts: contributing to congestion (due to their “availability”) and adversely affecting our local climate change.
“The problem with parking lots is that they accumulate a lot of pollutants—oil, grease, heavy metals and sediment—that cannot be absorbed by the impervious surface,” Engel says. “Rain then flushes these contaminants into rivers and lakes.”
And we haven’t even begun discussing the “urban heat island” effect that parking lots contribute to, which can raise temperatures by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius, according to Indiana state climatologist Dev Niyogi.
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