Archive for Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Parking perceptions

Discussions about expanded downtown parking should include ways to change the area’s perception problem.

August 2, 2011


Sometimes we wonder whether downtown parking was an issue even in the days when Massachusetts Street was lined with hitching posts instead of sawtooth parking spaces. It certainly seems it has been drawing concern for that long.

Now, Lawrence city commissioners have another opportunity to address the issue. In the coming weeks, city commissioners are expected to discuss whether to add another level of parking to a planned garage that will be part of the Lawrence Public Library expansion.

We hope that issue sparks a broader discussion about downtown parking. In particular, city leaders need to consider whether they are doing all they can to encourage motorists to use the parking that already exists in downtown.

At the moment, studies indicate that downtown’s parking problem is mostly a perception problem. A parking spot along Massachusetts Street can be difficult to find on many days. The library parking garage won’t alleviate that shortage. But, as many frequent downtown visitors will tell you, there is ample parking at almost any time just one to two blocks off of Massachusetts Street.

A Journal-World reporter recently found that even on Downtown Lawrence Sidewalk Sale Day, it was not difficult to find a parking spot within a 5-minute walk of nearly any destination in downtown.

The city should do more to promote the fact that it is easy to park and walk in downtown Lawrence. Many times, the walk is less than a shopper would make in a mall. The city could do more with signs. Perhaps signs could be placed at the various city parking lots telling motorists that, “from here,” they are only about a 5-minute walk from the shops in the 800 block of Massachusetts Street, or whatever their destination may be. We have heard that when people are told how many minutes a walk may take, it is more palatable than being told how many blocks.

None of this is to say that the city shouldn’t have a discussion about adding more parking to the library project. It may be good long-range planning to maximize parking in that area. More discussion and many more details are needed on that subject. It is disappointing that the discussion was not had during the broader 2012 city budget process. It would have been appropriate for downtown’s parking needs to have been ranked against other community needs.

What will be even more disappointing is if the city moves ahead with the library parking garage issue without having a good discussion about how it can better use the parking it has. After all, the city garage at Ninth and New Hampshire streets is still underutilized. If the city doesn’t do something to change the perception that the only convenient parking in downtown is along Massachusetts Street, we can build all the garages we want and still never solve the perception problem.


Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Vote NO to more parking at the library. It should have been on the ballot instead of using the back door approach to spend more money. The taxpayers could have expressed their opinions at that time. There are a lot of people all over Lawrence who neither trust nor understand the spending and tax dollar handout actions at city hall.

Obvioulsy city hall has money to spend. I would suggest wider sidewalks on 13th east of Mass to Haskell such as those being installed on west sixth street which are NOT near as old as those sidewalks in east Lawrence. Who or what influenced city hall?

I have no problem with those sixth street walks being made wider as they certainly were not in need of repair however it is equality I'm asking for and spending east Lawrence tax dollars in East Lawrence. Why is this so difficult for City Hall?

cato_the_elder 6 years, 10 months ago

"Why is this so difficult for City Hall?"

Why is it so difficult for Merrill to post a comment without cut-and-paste propaganda? He actually did so here. It must have been too early in the morning for him.

KU_cynic 6 years, 10 months ago

As long as the city charges for parking on Mass Street during the day and allows free parking at night there is an implicit subsidy toward nighttime businesses such as restaurants and especially late-hour bars -- and a penalty against retail stores that the city says it wants to retain and attract.

The preferred "date" for my spouse and me is a Liberty Hall movie and downtown dinner, but parking is a nightmare for us because it just doesn't turn over fast enough after 6:00 PM. I'm willing to pay for a spot, but I hate having to hunt forever for a spot while the cars of barflies sit on the street without charge for hours without moving. That kind of frustration makes eating at home and watching a movie on NetFlix seem very appealing.

George Lippencott 6 years, 10 months ago

People vote with their feet/money. Some do not want to pay to park and then walk three or four blocks to buy something they can buy elsewhere and park without charge just outside the store. As noted above, others will gravitate to where they can find parking even when it is free but hard to find (in the PM)

Why, oh why do we keep trying to entice people to do what people do not naturally want to do. The city obtains revenue no matter where the business is located. Why not just let business locate where they want and reap the tax revenue instead of trying to force fit business into a small portion of our city that is not convenient for many customers.

Is our city that much in the control of DTL

Aimee Polson 6 years, 10 months ago

I have never had a problem find a parking space. I might have to go to my second or third "choice", but it's always well within walking distance. I often go straight to the guaranteed spots, Borders or the garage. Free daytime parking for two hours at least. If I don't try to park within 25 feet of my destination, I don't get disappointed when I can't.

parrothead8 6 years, 10 months ago

Sorry...I'm still laughing over the portrayal of Lawrence as "fast-paced."

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