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Imagining a Bizarro World With Rational Discussions About Parking

Remember that time you attended a public meeting about redesigning a street, and when the issue of free on-street parking spaces came up, the discussion was so thoughtful and productive that you walked away feeling refreshed and full of optimism? Me neither.

Parking has a way of bringing out the worst in us. Photo: New Rochelle Talks
Parking has a way of bringing out the worst in us. Photo: New Rochelle Talks
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But Bill Lindeke at Streets.mn has imagined the rational community discussion about parking that you fantasize about -- here's what it might look like:

Most of the time, when people are discussing parking, parking lots, paying for parking, or whether or not it’s difficult to find parking, I’ve noticed how quickly someone who might have had concerns puts aside petty squabbles and embraces the bigpicture view.

I mean, the absolute worst case scenario is that you have to pay a few dollars or walk a few blocks through our lovely city on the well-designed and always comfortable sidewalks filled with non-threatening street life. As we all know, walking in our city is such a pleasure that most people love strolling around.

For example, just the other day a new restaurant wanted to open up in our city, but their parking lot was small compared to the Coon Rapids Applebee’s. Well, once the business owner explained the situation, and how the neighborhood was walkable and historic, everyone was OK with it. That’s inspiring!

Another example was the time that bicyclists asked the neighborhood for a bike lane on our busy street. The only catch? They’d have to remove a couple of parking spots in order to make the street safe. Once they explained it, folks in the community realized that safety was important. All of them agreed that having to walk to the other side of the street was worth the sacrifice. In fact, some of them even tried riding a bicycle themselves! That was inspiring too.

Another thing I love about parking conversations is how quickly people get on board with paying a little bit of money for the privilege of parking their car in busy commercial neighborhoods. It’s surprising because, every once in a while, people can seem reluctant to pay for parking. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true! Sometimes I hear stories about how car drivers once in a while might treat a free parking space like a god-given right such as life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yep, it’s the exception that proves the rule.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Cyclelicious shares the proposed new guidelines for protecting pedestrians and cyclists in construction zones in Santa Cruz, California. And Streets.mn introduces the concept of "transpotainment," which explains why transportation projects more for their novelty than their usefulness seem to keep surfacing in U.S. cities.

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