parking: everyone’s favorite topic.

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 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.



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8 Responses to parking: everyone’s favorite topic.

  1. Kate says:

    Re: people with mobility impairments, cities generally allow anyone with a handicap placard or license plate to park in any legal space for any length of time free of charge.

  2. Mati says:

    TROLLING AS REQUESTED! You know, of course things need to be more balanced and bike/ped friendly, but the whole cars are for the lazy and horrible thing is tired. Private, enclosed transport has been around since there were cities, for those who could afford it. Cars are not the WORST THING EVER, they are horses that don’t eat unless you’re driving them and don’t poop in the street and won’t kick you in the head when you are just putting air in the tires and theoretically can be totally recycled instead of downcycled into glue.

    Inherent in car hatred is the idea that the vast majority of Americans can’t do a simple cost-benefit analysis and are just totally deluded about the personal value of their cars and will pay hundreds a month to run these useless machines, even though that buys a *lot* of weed or American Girl or whatever. What’s really awesome is that most of the people making these critiques have cars, for when *they* need them, because their lives and needs are unique and special!, and when they don’t have cars, it’s usually because they live in transit-rich, wildly expensive areas. Really, New York person! I don’t want to hear about your car-free life, because your tiny apartment costs more than the average family’s entire income. Also the people from the historically bike/ped-dependent cultures who are gobbling up cars as fast as their wages rise enough to buy them? They must be deluded, too. But see, I was car-free most of my adult life and then had to get one for work and it was a hard, strong love. Indepedent mobility at relatively high speeds in all weather and at all hours was a life-changing option.

    As for point 2: let’s talk about poverty budgets. If you have to have a car for whatever reason – and very poor people who have cars have generally thought pretty hard about the best use of their limited resources – each trip is a marginal cost, and it is cheaper *per use* than transit for most trips, even with gas at four bucks. When you consider just how many people in this city are poor enough that two dollars makes a difference, monetizing public amenities doesn’t seem so benign.

    • krissie says:

      i have a car and thus don’t HATE cars as i enjoy the convenience when i need to drive to cracker park for a new dress and i will never be able to really get rid of my car because it’s the only way i can get to my hometown to see my family a couple times a year (no bus goes to those cornfields). that being said, i DO think the $$ spent on car-oriented design is absolutely unjust, inequitable, and needs to end. i mean, there is one person at ODOT who works for cycling and pedestrian transit and her position is largely symbolic. others have been told that they are absolutely not allowed to work anything other than car-centric design or they will risk losing their jobs (i have this from a very good source). SO, like i said, when over 30% of the residents in this city don’t have a car, i would say that there is a real injustice in the status quo (like there always tends to be).

      i still stand by my low-income statement. especially given that 90 minutes are free. espeeeeeecially. and there are more costs to owning a car than just $4 gas. you know that and i know that. so, yeah. if people are very low-income and can’t afford to pay to park but can afford a car, they are likely not dining at bar cento after their trip at the market and thus can get their groceries in 90 minutes, even on saturdays. i do it all the time. but i still believe that if someone can afford the cost of a car, insurance, gas, maintenance, tags, etc – and still have enough leftover for groceries at the market, they can afford to pay $2.

  3. Mati says:

    I addressed the “if they can afford a car” issue – marginal cost is the expense to produce an additional unit, in this case, an additional trip. Once someone has a car, their marginal cost per trip is lower in the car. Did you notice the lack of jobs locally, maybe, combined with the crappy transit? Do you talk to your really poor neighbors? Because there are a lot of people right there on the west side on the absolute lowest rung of car ownership because they have no other choice. The car is a piece of crap, but there is no other way to get to work, and probably there are complex childcare arrangements, crappy work hours, etc. It sounds as though you could meet your needs with a zipcar kind of setup, but people who are scrambling on every level with multiple stressors often find it is worth living in an even crappier, more crowded place to avoid losing their jobs because the bus is late, to be able to get to the check cashing place safely as soon as they get paid so they don’t pay the late fee on whatever. Or, you know, just getting home fast and safe after spending all day on their feet that were past hurting years ago. Those people go to the west side market, too – at least they did when I lived there, and they went BECAUSE it was often cheaper. Maybe it’s not now. Maybe the foodie paradise thing has made it less of a real resource for many of the people who stubbornly persist in living their non-artisanal, non-hipster, usually complex and exhausting lives on the near west side whilst being pushed further away from easy transit access by those with housing choice. I’m just reporting the calculations that I’ve *actually heard* from people who *actually live po* in the area: any avoidable cost is too much.

    If we had really affordable transit? Maybe.

    • kwells54 says:

      and i’ll say it again: 90 minutes free. 90 minutes.

      and yes, i talk to my really poor neighbors. and i was a really poor neighbor growing up and members of my immediately family are really poor (as in, too poor for a car which is another story in a place with public transit at all!). so i understand the push and pull of daily life, but i think the 90 minutes free addresses it.

  4. Stacia says:

    The thing that’s crazy about this whole debate is that the first 90 minutes are free. It’s really not that big of a deal. Whiners are whiners and they wine. lol

    If they were charging inordinate amounts of money for parking though, I would lean in agreement with your arguments. Really, for me, it just comes down to America being wayyy over car-centric and we subsidize the hell out of it, and any step away from that I will pretty much be cool with.

    Cool blog by the way. This is the first time I’ve seen it. =)

  5. I got cranky when I saw that one had to pay for parking (I figured it was inevitable eventually given the way West 25th has gone), but yeah, 90 minutes free is pretty good.

    What are your thoughts on the whole Lorain redevelopment thing? I’m just curious, feel free to email me if you want (Christine Borne sent me here, by the way and told me I should be reading your blog…)

    • kwells54 says:

      hi! thanks for checking out my blog. i do like the launch lorain plan. it focuses on pedestrian and cyclist-friendly transit, traffic calming, and filling storefronts. blight on lorain doesn’t help anyone. i did take issue with the lack of community engagement prior to the plan and OCI knows they could’ve done a better job with that piece. i think it’s up to the neighborhood now to see that it’s enacted in the way the plan intends. it’s a difficult thing, because no one can really control what someone decides to open if they rent a storefront (another bar, etc). however, the plan says that the neighborhood wants more businesses that serve every day needs (a drug store, hardware store, etc) rather than more bars and restaurants. the impression that i’ve gotten from OCI is that they definitely don’t want more bars in the area, but like i said…if sam mcnulty wants to buy a block of lorain and open a giant mega bar, OCI can’t stop him so it’s really up to residents. neighborhood voices is organizing around what we can do so i invite you to check out our facebook page or get on our mailing list if you are interested in our work!

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