So, OCI released their transit plan which included charging (kind of!) for parking at the West Side Market. The first 90 minutes (NINETY MINUTES) are free for market shoppers with parking costing an additional $2/hour after that.
Of course, that has sparked annoying cle.com comments, tweets galore, and even a petition against this very unjust, horrible, life-ruining plan. lol.
As I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again: free parking does not exist in thriving, urban corridors.
Arguments against charging for parking, DEBUNKED:
1. OMG, paying to park is, like, so horrible and I’m going to Heinen’s! everyone who drives pays to park somewhere unless they are weird and don’t go anywhere the slightest bit interesting (i mean, even your average downtown hater has probably gone to cedar point). and if they aren’t paying to park, the city is paying for it for them, and they are paying taxes. taxes that could utilized elsewhere. and no, you are not going to Heinen’s. i mean, yes you probably are already going to Heinen’s, but the West Side Market and West 25th Street are irreplaceable and you’ll give in or miss out on one of the city’s greatest treasures. Too bad, so sad.
2. But low-income people can’t afford to pay to park! This argument was made by my coworkers today and I was getting heated! No offense, coworkers. But if someone can afford to drive, they can certainly afford to pay to park. Very low-income people cannot afford to drive! They don’t! And car-centric cities like Cleveland have been bending over backwards for people who do drive for decades. The REAL injustice is that people who can’t afford to drive, and we know that over 30% of the people in Cleveland DO NOT own a car, are completely ignored when it comes transit infrastructure (until very recently). Limited public transit and unsafe streets for pedestrians and cyclists are major issues which I talk about over and over. Transit and parking are truly equity issues. So, if someone chooses the *privilege* of driving, they are to be charged for that privilege like any other privilege (like, you know, new shoes, spa treatments, and iphones). I mean, it’s not like anyone is getting a free car, free gas, or free repairs (unless they have an in with a mechanic! like my in with a bike mechanic!). Driving costs money. Everyone knows it and accepted that a long time ago. And parking in dense urban areas costs money. And maybe, JUST MAYBE, some of that money will go toward making this city more equal when it comes to transit.
One of my coworkers said “what about people with mobility issues?” Well, again, they aren’t given free cars, gas, insurance, licenses, tags, or maintenance, are they? So why is parking any different?
3. Ohio City businesses will lose customers if they have to pay to park. Man. I am seeing a lot of quotes like this from businessowners. Do they really have so little faith in the quality of their shop or restaurant that they think will experience a dramatic loss in business because people have to pay (after 90 minutes) a couple dollars to park? C’mon. I am proud of my neighborhood. I think it has a lot to offer. And I think it’s worth paying for parking here. Just like some people think it’s worth to pay for valet parking, first class seats, and the weird meters at Cracker Park. So, let’s give ourselves some credit here: we’ve built a great neighborhood, we can charge for parking and people will still come (you know they will), and we are joining every other thriving urban neighborhood in the world (basically…ok I don’t really know) by charging for *very valuable land use.*
And on that note, parking is not cheap. Sure, that ugly piece of cement LOOKS like it’s not worth anything, because it’s ugly and not as cute as the new dress I just won on ebay (had to get that in there), but there are real costs. I’m pretty sure there’s a book out there called The High Cost of Free Parking which everyone, including me!, should read.
Here a few statistics, taken from Elly Blue‘s zine Bikenomics (which she took from this paper and condensed it way down…btw, I haven’t read all of this paper, but I will and so should every public official). This fantastic zine is available for just 5 bucks from Joy Machines and is totally worth it as it makes you very smart.
- Annual costs of a street parking spot in an urban area: $1,341 per spot
- Annual costs of a structured parking spot in an urban area: between $2,800 & $4,000
- Cost for cities to maintain a parking spot for all car-owning residents: $4,400 per car/per year, of which car owners pay about of the cost directly and the rest is subsidized, paid indirectly.
- It costs more to build a space for a single car in a parking garage than to provide bike parking for 160 (!) bikes in the same area.
That said, let’s all remember that driving a car is not a right but a privilege. As a car-owner, I certainly understand that I am not owed anything for free from anyone (although I do accept free stuff!!!!!). I also am willing to pay for things like gas when I need to drive to work (like today, because I had a flat tire! or other days, when it’s really rainy [which is never in Cleveland]) and I don’t complain about gas prices because gas is a commodity that’s not supposed to be cheap. If and when gas goes up to $10/gallon, I’ll probably know how to fix a flat by then and I’ll ride my bike in the freakin’ rain and society will adapt because it’ll have to.
so that’s that. #endofstory
Oh, and I guess I’m seeing Vampire Weekend tonight for free (I love free stuff!)! I couldn’t name any of their songs, but I guess they are probably pretty good.