Every once in a while a pair of comments are a perfect foil for one another. Both are reasonable, you nod in agreement with each of them … and then you notice they express opposite opinions.
That was the case with a pair of comments by TakeTheLane and dw, each writing in response to our Paved Paradise book review. I understand where each of them is coming from. Last week, happenstance brought them within inches of one another, today I’m putting them right next to each other. Why? Because their conflict is exactly what the book is about. It’s the problem parking experts grapple with. Although I didn’t emphasize him in the review, economist Donald Shoup figures prominently in the book. And Shoup‘s book was titled, The High Cost of Free Parking.
TakeTheLane goes first:
Perhaps residents of these structures built without off street parking should receive “free” public transit passes for each person. The cost could be included in the rent, or condo fees. This could help encourage residents to not own cars that take up all of the on street parking in a neighborhood. I take great offense when someone who is not visiting my immediate neighbors or me takes the parking spot under the shade trees that I take care of, and leaves their car there for days at a time. This did not happen before the multiplexes were built in my neighborhood. For 25 years I have lived 6 blocks from where the (new to me) Yellow Max Train line was built and on street parking is diminishing quickly.
And now dw:
This book is definitely on my list. I think that off-street parking, and the discourse it spawns when it comes to changing the status quo, is so fascinating.
There seems to be this black-and-white view that if you live somewhere with scarce parking you can’t own a car. I feel like taking away off-street parking can still influence the behavior of “I’m never giving up my car” people. When buying new cars, they are incentivized to buy a smaller car that is easier to park. I own a Honda Fit and when I do choose to drive, never have trouble parking because it’s so small. Households might also go for one car and a cargo bike instead of 2 or 3 cars if parking is constrained. Cars are bad but smaller cars are less bad.
You might also end up parking further away, which makes biking and transit more attractive options. I park 5-6 blocks away on the street but the bus stop is right across the street and the bike room is just downstairs. Even for folks who won’t or can’t stop driving everywhere, that 6 block walk is probably a good thing – they’re at least interfacing with their neighborhood on foot, rather than just through a windshield. Street parking directly adjacent to apartment entrances and spots in garages should be reserved for handicap-only IMO. Some people legitimately can’t walk 6 blocks and we should be planning for that.
I guess what I’m getting at is that we should be framing these policy issues as reducing driving rather than reducing car ownership. Most folks are not opposed to replacing car trips if the alternatives are more convenient than driving, but still prefer the security blanket of car ownership. I think most folks are on board with driving less, but not giving up their cars entirely.
It is important to BikePortland to provide an outlet for varying opinions, thank you TakeTheLane and dw for sharing yours. You can read what everyone thinks under the original post.