Parking is an necessary evil for urban planners. Especially in region like Northeast Ohio, which is addicted to the automobile. With all the development in downtown Cleveland the discussion of parking shortage has begun in earnest. Horseshoe Casino is predicting hundreds of thousands of new visitors opens in early May and the Convention Center/Medical Mart is predicting similar numbers opens in 2013. New businesses moving downtown like AmTrust Financial and its 1,000 workers will further strain the parking situation, right? Where will all these people park?
Newsflash, there is plenty of parking downtown, you just have to know where to park and be willing to use your feet. I have never been one to pay for parking, I would rather park several blocks away for free or lower rate. This habit has helped me discover the perfect streets to find a meter or lots with ample parking. When working on East Ninth Street downtown, I would walk from the Municipal lot to reduce parking costs, then moved a couple hundred feet further to Burke Lakefront Airport when I was able to get free parking. You might think I am crazy, but I was never alone on the walk to work, even on the coldest of days. I am not suggesting that visitors to the casino or convention center should be willing to walk a mile to get to their destination, but there are plenty of places to park on the fringe of downtown and their other alternatives, like public transit.
While in graduate school at Cleveland State, I was in an intimate relationship with RTA. I knew her like the back of my hand. I knew the E-Line trolley drivers by name and the Shaker rapid times by heart. She would make me chase after her from time to time, but she always came through in the end. Currently, we are having an on again, off again relationship, because I found that she was pleasing other riders, more and more each day it seemed. I will always remember the crucial role she plays.
I say all this, to get to the root of my argument, that we should be exploring all types of alternatives, rather than rehashing the same mistakes we have made in the past. We can’t destroy historic buildings (We already lost Columbia building) and murder street life, by prioritizing the automobile. We tried that once and look how that turned out for us.
We need to take a more pragmatic approach to parking, because the capacity is there. The majority of workers only need parking from 8am to 5pm, while the Playhouse, The Q, Progressive Field, and Horseshoe Casino typically need the bulk of their parking during the evening hours. The aggregate need for parking shouldn’t be our goal considering parking demand fluctuates throughout the day. Having to walk a few blocks to your destination actually improves street life and how many times have you noticed something new when you walked a street rather than driving it?
Cleveland.com has posted a useful guide to parking downtown to help people locate the ample parking options in downtown Cleveland. Don’t forget parking is free on the street after 6pm during the week and free on the weekends. You could also ditch the car and take RTA, tell her I miss her.
Copyright © 2012 Jason Russell; available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.
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