Friday, May 11, 2007

green choices - no free parking

Slate ran an article recently about why there really is no such thing as "free parking" due to the environmental costs of providing parking.

Seattle is taking that thought a bit further and putting the squeeze on parking spaces to encourage use of public transit and bicycles for commuting instead of driving.

This Chicago Tribune article looks at the issue of parking and congestion across the country.

The increasing social and environmental costs of car traffic and parking have reshaped my thinking on transportation. I lived out of state for 10 years, in an area of low population density and minimal public transit. Although traffic congestion was not a significant problem for me on a daily basis, the lack of transportation options bothered me. I hated having to drive nearly everywhere because there was usually no other way to get there. My last apartment there was on the edge of downtown Concord, NH, with many friends and a good range of Main Street shops and restaurants and two grocery stores within walking distance. I drove for my commute but usually left the car at home after work. I enjoyed being able to walk so many more places. Main Street was a social desination on Saturdays, thanks to the Main Street merchants efforts to create a viable alternative to the mall.

I still missed the cultural amenities of Chicago and finally moved back 10 years ago. I'm using my bike for an increasing portion of my shopping trips to the grocery store, hardware store, garden center, etc., thanks to a cargo trailer from a new local business.

Now that it's an option in many more places, using bicycles in combination with public transit is an increasingly viable option. Using a car share program, such as I-Go or Zipcar, is a better option for those of us who have an occasional need for a car but don't use one on a daily basis.

In another 10 years, I'd like to see a lot more bikes on Chicago streets, and a lot fewer cars. In 20 years, I'd love to see more bikes than cars on our streets. Working for better facilities and programs and better laws is a good way to get there.

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