Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Parking Reform Network

2018 parking space downtown La Crosse
Red=cars only. Pink= includes retail/housing.
We just learned that the President of the Parking Reform Network will give a Zoom presentation to the Neighborhood Revitalization Commission on May 1 at 6:00 p.m. The PRN is a national organization that educates the public about the impacts of parking policy on climate, equity, housing, and traffic.
Below are the links for the May 1, 2024 6:00 pm Neighborhood Revitalization Commission meeting. The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall or online via Zoom: https://cityoflacrosse-org.zoom.us/j/82155464093?pwd=aGw1NWRRUE4xM1RxajJxaTM0QkNUQT09
Meeting ID: 821 5546 4093
Passcode: 543969
Dial in: 1-312-626-6799

We give up a whole lot of public space to cars, especially car storage. All those on street spaces, surface lots, and parking ramps have a cost. It's not just the money, though that's a big chunk of change (especially for people who don't own cars), but it's also the cost in safety, equity, induced driving, and removal of space for other public use - walking, biking, meeting and talking, playing, and living.

The great book MOVEMENT: How to take back our streets and transform our lives discusses the history of losing this public space to cars, the auto-centrism that maintains this unfair system, and the steps we can take to make things change.

An eye-opening webinar by Marco te Brömmelstroet, co-author of MOVEMENT, looks at how language and framing drives the way we consider a situation, decide what the problems are, and prioritize solutions. A "car brain" focus gives us car-priority results. So, we end up with important government and social services that are not accessible unless you have a car, a whole wide lane of Losey Boulevard reserved for occasionally turning cars rather than one for bicyclists, or too-wide paved spaces in low-traffic neighborhoods reserved for car/boat/utility trailer/dumpster/other wheeled vehicle storage rather than repurposed and protected for pedestrians to use.

Several years ago, the Wisconsin Bike Fed and others hosted Open Streets events, where cars were temporarily blocked from driving on a couple of city streets so people, including all the non-drivers in our community, could experience a few hours of fun on the streets we all pay for. These events were not meant to be one-time recreations. They were meant to wake people out of our car brain stupor so we could start making car-free or car-lĂ­te/cars-as-guests streets the norm in parts of our community.

As part of a demonstration protected bike lane (pbl) in 2017, we included a display of all the downtown space reserved for parked cars (see map above). The map is eye-opening. All the space that could be parks, outdoor shopping and dining, benches, businesses, shops, housing, offices, services, and more is just sitting there, waiting for a car, and adding to the heat island effect and storm water runoff.

But this program is part of the discussion about reducing or eliminating some parking minimums, which could free up some parking space for other uses. We have to be careful, though, about residential parking requirements. Requiring less off street parking for apartments is fine if there's good transit in a community but maybe not so great if transportation choices are limited.

Check it out.

No comments: