Winning the Parking Wars
When it comes to parking, “only” is relative.
Take a mile-long bike lane that requires the loss of, say, 15 to 20 car parking spaces in order to install mixing zones or pedestrian islands. To most people, trading this amount of automobile parking in the name of greater safety and mobility for thousands of people sounds like a fair trade-off. But to anyone with a strong windshield perspective, seeing the greater good isn’t always easy. So measuring bike lanes by the number of parking spaces that need to disappear only along the affected corridor is a recipe for controversy. Whose “only” is it, anyway?
According to Michael Andersen of the Green Lane Project, there’s a better way:
…when it was planning its signature downtown bike project in 2005, Montreal got past those concerns with a very simple tactic. Instead of counting only the change in parking spaces on the boulevard De Maisonneuve itself, a measure that might have led to headlines and perceptions that “half of the parking” was being removed, it counted the total number of auto parking spaces — public and private, on-street and off — within 200 meters of the project.
The district, it turned out, had 11,000 parking spaces. Converting one of the corridor’s two auto parking lanes to a protected bikeway would remove 300 of them, or just under 3 percent.
As Vision Zero planning moves from the murky process of explaining what Vision Zero is to actually laying out projects that will require some amount of physical change to the streetscape — and, yes, sacrifice on the part of drivers — the de Blasio administration would be well advised to consider this tactic. It’s something DOT used effectively during the arguments that erupted in Brooklyn last spring over bike share station siting.
First, some facts: There are 6,800 on-street parking spots in the area bounded by Classon Avenue, Fulton Street, Flatbush Avenue and Flushing Avenue. In that zone, 22 bike-share stations were installed, adding 600 public bike docks. Two-thirds of the stations are on the sidewalk, after community meetings revealed a preference for that type of installation. Stations that were installed in the roadbed took 35 parking spaces, [NYC DOT's Jon] Orcutt told the audience – one half of one percent of the total number of spaces in the neighborhood.