Apr 152016


by Christine Russell…….

Uncontrolled numbers of cars has lead to increased parking demand and building more garages and surface lots. When will this short-sighted thinking end?!

Instead of building 1 or even 2 parking garages – total $11 MILLION – in Old Town, let’s be a little more forward thinking. Maybe take some of that money and create Park and Rides on some unbuildable lots in the lower Keys, Stock island, and entry to KW for tourists, and workers commuting to KW. Maybe spend some of that $11 MILLION garage money, and apply for grants, for a new futuristic type of transportation system that people will WANT to enjoy. A user-friendly, well-thought-out transit system – trolleys, light rail, etc. Might even cut down on drunk driving, reduce air pollution, with fewer cars in Old Town and more parking for homeowners. Maybe a campaign by the TDC to ‘Leave your car at Home’ “Ride (a bike) like a local’. Tie into the new transportation hub at MIA and get this ridiculous amount of traffic off US1 throughout the Keys.

There is not a single solution type problem.

But think about it, if you build 2 new garages accommodating say 400 cars, you are NOT going to have just those 400 more cars, but many more with the turn over rate of a parking space in those garages.

Building parking garages is the easy, lazy, expensive solution to the problem of TOO MANY CARS in Old Town!

Let’s look to experts like legendary Danish city planner Jan Gehl for ideas of how other cities have dealt with pedestrian, bike, car and parking issues. With his guidance Copenhagen has increased its central zone dedicated to pedestrians and bicycles sevenfold between 1962 and 2005, and eliminated 2% of its downtown parking spaces every year, for the past 30 years. Is Key West forward thinking enough to consider such a creative solution to solve the bigger, long term problem of too many cars and parking in Old Town? I’m afraid I know the answer to that, but I am hopeful!

So we have a parking problem – and what is the tired, worn out solution? Take more valuable land and build garages in areas that already have too much traffic.

We don’t have a parking problem – we have a VEHICLE problem and too many of them.

Don’t give me reasons why we can’t do this – give me ways we can reduce the number of cars on the roads and in downtown KW!

Christine Russell
Key West

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 April 15, 2016  Posted by at 12:48 am Issue #162, Letter to the Editor  Add comments

  5 Responses to “We Don’t Have a Parking Problem – We Have a VEHICLE Problem”

  1. Am sure your intentions are great but not practical. Would a shuttle run 24 / 7 ? Who would want to spend 30 minutes to get to their car ? And what would it cost to use. A parking garage can pay for itself easy.

  2. Christine,

    I just began a search for Jan Gehl after reading your article and will check him out further. It’s no secret about bicycles being a great mode of transportation in Key West, and within my Waterfront Park Plan I suggested that bicycle racks not only be installed the entire length of the 3 designated parking lots at the Park, but also consider the idea of having a bicycle rental outlet at the Park. Tourists can drive into the Park in a car, then ride out on a bicycle. Each parking lot could probably have a minimum of 100 bicycle racks for a total of at least 300-350 or so. I’m talking about good racks like those at Overseas Market, not the ones that are difficult to put your bike into – especially if you have a front basket.

    This idea probably won’t stop people from driving into Old Town, but it at least can potentially take cars off of the street. And when the Park finally gets going, locals might see the advantage of using a bicycle instead of driving down to the area.

    I put 3 parking lots totaling 225 spaces in my Park Plan which is the same amount as the city’s Master Plan, because as told to me – you have to have parking lots in the Park. Two of the lots are in the same location as the Master Plan, but with my Plan the 3rd lot is relatively out-of-the-way, unlike the Master Plan with their 3rd parking lot being in pretty much the middle of “our” open space lot across from the proposed Amphitheater.

    There is a problem – I offer at least a partial solution.

  3. I did not mention in my previous post that the cost, as given to me by the City’s Engineering Dept. for the 3 parking lots with 225 spaces at the Park, would be approximately $8,000 per space for a total of $1,800,000 – not including the bicycle racks. Very conservatively, these metered parking spaces could be expected to bring in between $450,000 to a high of $750,000 or even up to $950,000 per year.

  4. I do believe that at the point we can’t park a car near where ever we stay while visiting KW that we simply will stop going. Not about to park our car on Stock Island in some unguarded lot with the high criminal activity of that area. In our 40 plus years of visiting KW we have always found a place to park free. Many of the motels , hotels and bed and breakfast places provide parking. Faced with a choice of $20 or $30 a day we would rather park and pay locally. Just what would we save by parking in Stock Island or another key ? It will not be free and then add the difficulty of baggage and waiting on shuttle service will kill tourism. Now maybe it would work for the workers but don’t most of them use mopeds or bikes? The land you would use in KW if can’t be built on is not worth much and has no other value. It too will pay for itself.

  5. Bicycle share programs like Instabike can bridge that gap. Imagine you can park your car at a garage located out of the downtown area, hop on a bike, and pedal downtown. You can leave the bicycle in the heart of the action and walk away. When you’re ready, hop on another bike and pedal back to the garage, leave the bike there and drive away. It’s clean, it’s neat, and it’s convenient. Unfortunately at the moment the city wants to wait till late 2017 to address bike share in their Master Plan even when Instabike is ready to operate today if the city gets on board. Hope they do! Traffic has gotten so bad it’s crazy.

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