Parking: a game of musical chairs

Previously, in Is there a parking problem?, I stated that there was no need for more parking. We could, however, better manage the parking spaces we do have and change some of the parking restrictions and enforcements.

Musical chairs

Efficient use of parking would operate like a game of musical chairs where the optimum would be to have not quite enough chairs/parking spaces, otherwise there is no game/nobody wants to come to a place that lacks sufficient attractions (those land uses that are in competition with parking), real or perceived, to draw players/parkers.

2600 block of Milwaukee Avenue

Again, I conducted a parking survey of the short 2600 block of Milwaukee Avenue at three-hour intervals from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on a weekday in February.

There are 21 two-hour limit metered spaces from 8:00 a.m. to
9:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday at a rate of 25 cents per hour, bus stops, and a number of loading zones.  No parking is permitted from 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. in winter months.

One-third of the east side of the block is dedicated to a bus stop and bus access to the adjacent depot.  The buildings house a mix of commercial/retail uses and second and third story apartments, and about half the buildings have private parking behind or to the side of the buildings.

Despite the two-hour time limit, during the course of the day, one car (consuming 5% of metered spaces) stayed parked for nine hours or more, four more cars (consuming 19% of metered spaces) stayed parked for six hours or more, and seven more cars (consuming 33% of metered spaces) stayed parked for three hours or more.  In other words, at more than 50% of the metered parking, cars were parked in violation of the time limits.reading-the-map

In addition, two cars stayed parked in loading zones for six hours or more, and another for three hours or more.  These cars did not appear to be any type of trade or vendor vehicles that legitimately would need a loading zone, and, in fact, at least one of the six-plus hour cars belonged to an owner of a Milwaukee Avenue business.

Of 19 different cars parked in the loading zones during the survey, only three appeared to be legitimately “loading.”  Had the other cars been parked in loading zones downtown, they surely would have been ticketed, maybe towed.

2600-block-milwaukee-parking
Parking survey of 2600 block of Milwaukee Ave.

Because of the many restricted parking areas and many parking infringements, at its peaks at 11:00 a.m. and again at 5:00 p.m., the legal parking spaces are 150-155% occupied.  (This can happen because many parking infringements in restricted parking areas overcompensate for the available, legal parking.)  At 11:00 p.m., the available, legal parking is 75% vacant.

On the map, the various colors represent unique cars, while the white space represents the chairs/parking spaces.  Where the colors are repeated vertically, the same car remained parked.

Where the map appears monochromatic, there is a breakdown in the game where players/parkers are just sitting on their chairs/parking spaces for a good part of the game, thus preventing other players/parkers from participating. There are also rules/parking restrictions that exclude players/parkers.  They prohibit people from playing/parking at night or restrict the use of certain chairs/parking spaces to only a few (e.g., loading spaces).

Some of the rules/parking restrictions prohibit potential residents, shoppers, visitors or errand-runners from playing/parking, and the  “cheaters” limit the fun of the game for honest players/parkers or even their willingness to participate.

Still the block illustrates the potential for a game of musical chairs that looks attractive to potential player/parkers.  The greater the multiplicity of colors and the lesser the white space throughout the day, the more the number of players/parkers participating and the number of chairs/parking spaces are just about right.

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One Response to Parking: a game of musical chairs

  1. erica says:

    this is amazingly detailed and thorough. i don’t have a car in our neighborhood, but i still appreciate you taking the time to provide us all with this information!

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