Unless you arrive on campus before 7:30 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m., chances are it’s going to be tough to find parking. With the Kennedy Library parking lot gone forever and enrollment planned to increase by about 450 students each year, the challenge of parking is sure to get worse over time.
I don’t believe that solution is more parking structures and cheaper parking. I don’t think we have a parking problem. I think we have a driving problem! I live about three miles away from campus and it takes less than fifteen minutes to ride my bike to school. When I have to drive, it still takes over ten minutes, assuming there is little or no traffic. As a last resort the bus stops less than four blocks from my house and gets to campus on the hour, after a twenty minute ride.
Unfortunately a significant number of people who live within a mile of campus still feel the need to drive. This would be a fifteen minute walk, ten minute bus ride and five minute bike ride. Even though it’s only a three to five minute drive, it takes nearly ten minutes or more to find parking! Obviously time is not the deciding factor.
It’s definitely not cheaper to drive either. Quarterly parking permits cost $85 and it is $4 for a daily permit. In addition, if you’re driving every day it is probably nearly $10 each week in gasoline, not to mention maintenance costs. If you risk parking without a permit, in staff parking or let a meter expire you could face a $15 to $25 ticket. Driving is absolutely the most expensive way to get to campus.
Bike parking is free, although it may take while to find an open rack. The only cost is having a $3 tube every month or so if you hit a patch of glass. The biggest complaint about biking to school is getting to class tired and sweaty. This is an easy fix. Wear a gym shirt for the ride, arrive 10 minutes early, chill out on a bench for a while to catch your breath and change into your daily clothing just before class.
Walking is even easier. It is free with no parking required. There aren’t any ‘no-walk zones’ and it’s a perfect opportunity to get to know your neighbors who walk to school as well.
Riding the bus is also free. The only downsides to the bus are finding a stop near your home, sacrificing a little extra sleep, finding a seat and dealing with alternative ways of getting home if you have evening classes. For the vast majority though, bussing is a simple and effective way of getting to class for free.
The bottom line is that you have options. Driving my seem like the easiest solution because your car is always sitting in your driveway, but take a minute to add up the full cost of driving and parking for an entire year and see if it’s really worth the money.
There are definitely improvements to be made to our transit system and bicycle access, but the best way to ensure those changes will happen is to increase demand for the services, proving that changes are not only needed, but necessary.