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Drivers fail to stay within parking space

November 5, 2009 Downtown, Parking 12 Comments

From my desk at home I can see Locust Street in my peripheral vision through the glass door to my balcony.  As I see movement on the street I’ll glance over that direction.  More often than not when someone parks at the on-street metered space they fail to keep their car behind the parking meter.

When you parallel park sometimes you have no choice but to be off a bit based on the cars in front of and behind your own.  But this space I see off to my left is the one space between our drive and the next corner.   Everyone just pulls front-forward into this space.  And yet most don’t get it right.

Some cities, such as Clayton, mark on the pavement the allotted space where you are to park.

You can sorta see the parking meter in the above picture.

From the sidewalk you see this driver had nothing to prevent parking properly.

And yet the driver missed it by a long shot.  OK, you are right, in this location it doesn’t matter because the city foolishly has too few spaces.  At 11am early in the week there are not many cars around.  The commercial spaces on the 1st floors are vacant at the moment and on the weekends the street is full, especially if a neighbor is having a party.

This bad habit, repeated daily, makes me wonder if drivers need those pavement markings on the street in order to park properly?  But I also think drivers are better at parking naturally.  If we had a “pay-n-display” parking system, where the parking space length isn’t pre-determined by the meter spacing, our drivers would do a better job of parking.

In the meantime I’ll just try to resist the urge to leave these drivers a note saying, “Align the meter with the front of the car, not the side mirror.”

– Steve Patterson


A Vintage Parking Garage

Downtown St. Louis has many parking garages, too many in fact.  Most are as bland as you’d expect a parking garage to be.

The curving exit ramp of the Macy’s garage at 6th & Pine (map link) is anything but bland.

One of the two Kiener Plaza garages are visible from the exit ramp of the Macy’s garage, above.

In this historic image, we see the Macy's garage in the background as the Kiener garages are built in the foreground.
In this historic image, we see the Macy’s garage in the background as the Kiener garages are built in the foreground.

It is hard to sustain a vibrant downtown with so much real estate used for car storage.  We built garages to accommodate everyone coming downtown but in the process created a downtown less attractive to visitors.

I just hope nobody gets the idea to list one on the National Register of Historic Places.  Wait, the city likes to raze historic buildings so perhaps we should get all of them on the register.  That may be the only way to reduce their numbers.

– Steve Patterson


Stop the Dust

Many fought hard to keep the 1960s San Luis Apartments at Lindell and N. Taylor (map link).  The battle, however, was lost and the demolition crews have been busy razing the structure.  Little remained on Thursday:

Above: we can see the spray of water as the building was being wrecked.  The water spray didn’t appear to be effective in other directions.  Driving through the area you could see dust everywhere.

Neighbors (presumably) expressed their view on the alley side of the old garage being razed.

The dust will end once the building is fully razed.  And just think, they won’t need any help from construction noise since the St. Louis Archdiocese is paving the prominent corner to store cars.

– Steve Patterson


Preferred Parking for Hybrids

September 1, 2009 Environment, Parking 15 Comments

Out of Chicago comes an interesting discussion – preferred parking for hybrid vehicles in the retail environment. Apparently Whole Foods is attempting to receive a LEED rating for their new stores, and one way they’re doing this is by designating parking spots near the front door for the exclusive use of hybrid vehicles.  Chicago Tribune articles here and here.   And yes, the LEED process does give points for providing preferred parking for alternative-fuel vehicles.

Click image for source

Most of the previous applications I’ve seen have been in places of employment, where the goal is to wean commuters away from their single-occupant vehicles. I don’t have much of an issue with providing preferences in this environment, since providing and enforcing them over time seem to be two very different things. Seeing this applied in a retail situation is, to me, a much different dynamic, much like my negative reaction to designated parking for new or expectant moms – any time you designate spaces for specific uses, you both diminish the actual supply (since most “special” spots are rarely fully-utilized) and you force everyone else further out.

We can obviously discuss the larger issues of whether free parking should be limited by the government (to force people to use other modes) and how free parking is making most of us fatter and lazier, but I’d like to focus on the apparent movement away from everyone being considered equal. We already provide special parking for people with documented disabilities, as we should. And I don’t have a problem with any business providing reserved parking for anyone they choose – it’s their land, their money and their business model. But I do take exception with any public program that creates special incentives without a strong basis in reality.

Short term, these spaces may provide a small incentive for some people to consider more-efficient vehicles, much like how “compact” spaces were meant to encourage people to buy smaller vehicles. Longer term, as hybrids become more common, the Law of Unintended Consequences WILL kick in. Much like how many cities have seen increased demand for hybrids when they can be driven by solo drivers in HOV lanes, or how transit agencies in Illinois have had to accommodate the unfunded mandate of allowing all seniors to ride for free, these spaces will soon become oversubscribed.

Where this issue stands now is in sort of a gray area – it’s not the law of the land, yet, but I can see it becoming that fairly quickly. Whole Foods has every right to do this; the real issue comes down the road, where LEED compliance is either mandated by local legislation, or, as is the case in Chicago, going green gets you an expedited permitting process. And I’m not aware of any applications around here (yet), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it tried fairly soon.

– Jim Zavist


Former Alderwoman Still Using Board of Alderman ‘Official Business’ Placard

A personal friend of mine, last week on Monday August 24th, spotted former 25th Alderwoman Dorothy Kirner park at a parking meter and place an “official business” placard upon the dashboard of her Ford Escort before going inside without feeding said parking meter.

Kirner defeated me in the March 2005 Democratic primary election for Board of Alderman for the 25th Ward.  She did not seek re-election in the 2009 race.  Shane Cohn was sworn into office as the new Alderman for the 25th Ward in April 2009.

Above you can see the placard placed on the dash.

These placards are issue to elected officials for, well, official business.  I’m not sure what official business a former Alderperson is conducting for the Board of Aldermen.  Could it be she expects to continue receiving the perks of the office she no longer holds?

– Steve Patterson