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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