Around most of Indianapolis and all across suburbia there is ample, free parking. Basically, we are spread out and there is room for our vehicles to stay put while we travel from place to place.
For downtown workers, there is no free parking during the day. Finding an open street spot during the evenings can prove difficult if you heading to a ballgame, the symphony, the theater, out to eat, etc. Yet parking is relatively affordable and there is always the Circle Center Mall option at the dirt-cheap rate of $1.50 for the first hour.
In Broad Ripple, free street parking is scarce and taxis reserve one half of the street on the busiest nights. Then there are the property owners who charge $5 or more to park in their lots near places like Bazbeaux, the Bungalow and behind The Vogue. Free street spots are prized finds along Mass Ave. too.
However, is all of this free or inexpensive parking taking a toll on local air quality and our environment? Me thinks yes. Which is why I welcome a proposal to lengthen meter hours and increase rates. (Check out this article from The Indianapolis Star for details.)
Right now, motorists have almost zero incentive to find alternative transportation to get around Indianapolis. While not even close to a cure-all for Indy’s transit woes, higher parking rates and more hours requiring paid parking might cause some folks to reconsider whether or not they need to drive to their destination or to at least consider sharing a ride.
I used to live in Chicago and I remember the first time I pulled into a parking lot in the Loop – the price was $20 for the FIRST HOUR. Talk about incentive to use public transit! Meters there are several dollars per hour too. And just try and find a free street parking spot in Chicago’s Lakeview, Lincoln Park or Wrigleyville neighborhoods – most residents get used to driving around for 30 minutes or more until they finally find an available parking spot.
True, Indy isn’t considering hiking the rates to help air quality, but to raise revenues for other infrastructure improvements without raising taxes. The increases may also help retailers and business owners by increasing the churn on the metered spots.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I’m a big advocate of improving public transportation in and around Indianapolis. However, I think people will continue to balk at using public transportation if they can park for next to nothing.
How do you feel about increased parking rates? What other incentives do you think might increase support for public transit?
Ryan Puckett is a freelance writer and communications specialist focusing on all things pertaining to sustainability including green living, conservation, environmental issues and healthy living. He also likes to eat, so he’ll take whatever work he can get. Ryan is an IU-Bloomington grad and alum of Northwestern University’s School of Journalism. He lives in Broad Ripple with his wife, son and dog, is a veteran of roughly 150 (and counting) Phish shows and is a long-suffering Cubs fan. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @rmpuckett.