People who live in the neighborhood surrounding the University of Rochester are fed up with commuters parking along their streets. The Democrat and Chronicle reports:
“It’s kind of a free-for-all over there,” said Bob Good, past president of the neighborhood association and currently a member of the group’s parking committee.
“Certain streets can get very crowded. They will park right up by people’s driveways. It’s difficult for snowplows. It’s difficult for garbage pickup.”
“It’s not going to get easier,” (City Engineer Jim) McIntosh said, given the growth of UR, the area’s largest employer. “(And) I think they realize they can’t build garages to get themselves out of this problem. They are going to have to get people to think of using other modes of transportation.”
Here are reasons more garages and parking lots will not and should not solve UR’s parking crunch:
1. They’re ugly.
2. They take up valuable land, which drives up the price of surrounding land. They limit the college’s land use options.
3. Garages are very expensive to build and maintain. Some studies estimate one space costs $10,000 to $25,000.
4. They encourage driving to work, which only makes the congestion and parking crunch worse.
5. Encouraging more cars means more headaches for bicyclists and pedestrians.
What should be done instead?
Make as many UR workers as possible leave their cars at home. This can be done by designing convenient bus routes and making them free to riders. RGRTA and the college are already working on such a design, but the UR should be taking a much more active leadership role.
(It’s a shame College Town scrapped a bus station and will include a massive garage. It’s also a shame the UR has been a chief proponent of the 390 redesign, which will create a special university exit that will only serve to bring more cars to campus.)
Other things that can be done to alleviate the demand for cars is build more dense housing in the vicinity of the college and improve the city’s bike infrastructure. The UR already utilizes off-site shuttle bus services and encourages carpooling.
Finally, the city can restrict parking in the surrounding neighborhood.
But I live in the suburbs and need to be able to drive to my job at the college!
There will (should?) come a point where the UR says, “I’m sorry, but you cannot have a space on campus.”
That puts the burden on the worker to either find another job or find another way to get to work. Maybe the worker will discover a park and ride that’s convenient. Maybe RGRTA will design a route that frequently comes up a main thoroughfare in his town. Maybe the worker will decide he has to move closer to his employer because his car-dependent life isn’t sustainable anymore.
In cities across the country, taking alternate transportation to work is a way of life. The workers don’t have a choice. Driving to work isn’t a right. And in UR’s case, which keeps adding to its 20,000-strong workforce, it might not be the right thing to do for much longer.
Links of the Day:
– Neighbors worry about the impact of a proposed apartment complex on Park Avenue on parking. Their concerns are debunked in this blog post.
– A Boston developer wants approval to build apartment housing without parking.
– University of Rochester researchers figured out a way to make mice smarter. They injected them with human brain cells, which raises some ethical issues.
– Rochester has one of the lowest percentages of federal workers in the country.