Solution: Fewer cars
We continue to be held hostage by automobiles. The brouhaha over losing two parking spots to the well-used parklet is an example. Next we’ll see two more projects that indicate our addiction. First a doubling in size of the lot behind the Department of Labor to accommodate parking lost to the Carr lot development. A large green space along the river will be sacrificed. Second, angled parking is planned in front of the State House, all to squeeze in a few more cars.
The development of the Carr lot is being shaped almost entirely by parking. The number of proposed housing units is limited by the number of available parking spaces. Creating more parking means we lose nearly half the remaining green space. Even then, the developer believes there is not enough parking to build more housing, and that means the city’s return on our investment will be less. All this is made more ludicrous because the housing is being built on top of the transit center intended to reduce the use of private automobiles.
Some suggest the solution is to build a parking structure. Would we trade the summer farmers market for a parking structure as some propose? Others suggest the “Jacobs lot” off Main Street — a sunny riverside spot that has always had a much higher potential than parking. A single parking spot in a structure will cost between $10,000 and $20,000 — not a good way to solve the problem of too many cars.
The real solution is fewer cars. If we park just 10 percent to 20 percent fewer cars, the pain will be dramatically reduced. To that end, the state could further incentivize ride sharing. The new transit center should make using public transit much easier. Many in Montpelier walk or ride bikes; more can be done to increase both. Fewer cars means a more livable city and street budgets that go much further, and, of course, the global ramifications are immense.
We need to find solutions to these problems that will still be viable in 10 or 20 years. All center on fewer cars, not finding more places to park more and more.
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