News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Downtown, parking, and planning ahead

From this week's Flagpole, news about "substantial changes to the policies of the Downtown Athens Parking System":
Lots of ideas may be on the table: increasing meter rates, increasing various fines and fees, bringing in new “pay-and-display” technology that prints a receipt for the dashboard, and more - like maybe even extending meter hours beyond 6 p.m.
...
Meanwhile, ACC Commissioners - for the most part unaware of the conversation that’s just beginning on ADDA’s end - briefly discussed the downtown parking issue at their May 6 voting meeting, when it came time to renew the county’s two-year contract with ADDA for managing parking. At that meeting, Commissioner Carl Jordan repeated his call for looking at downtown parking in the wider context of Athens’ transportation issues as a whole. “To the extent that we may be subsidizing the parking of automobiles… we’re encouraging cars over alternative transportation,” Jordan said.
Kudos to Carl Jordan for pointing this out!

One thought, an admittedly radical one for the USA, is to consider eliminating on-street parking altogether and expand our sidewalks so that they can accommodate more than single-file foot traffic. One unintended consequence of the indoor smoking ban has been the creation of fenced off drinking areas in front of bars. While these are pleasant places to hang out, they eat up half the walkable space on the sidewalks.

Broad sidewalks would encourage more outdoor seating, a la Walker's Pub and Ben & Jerry's. Anyone who has traveled through Europe can attest that wide pedestrian boulevards attract people:

Pedestrian thoroughfare in Salamanca, Spain
Image from www.educulture.org

1 comment:

Cardee Hoard said...

It sounds counter-intuitive, but increasing meter rates, fines and fees will help downtown businesses by encouraging turnover. As it is, parking is so cheap, and fines so low, that spots are occupied by the same cars for hours on end, while potential customers are left to circle the block looking for spaces.

Unfortunately, some business owners don't even know what's good for them, as they or their employees actually park in front of their own shops, rather than making room for paying consumers.

Look for ACC to smother progressive parking policy in favor of more decks.