Thursday, November 1, 2007

How Much Parking Does Your Main Street Have? The Answer May Surprise You

One of the CONSTANT problems that I have run into during my time as a Main Street Coordinator is parking. Many residents and business owners on Main Streets are convinenced that there is no enough parking available on Main Street.

It's understandable why so many people may think that. After all, when Main Streets were first built, they were meant to accomidate horses and carraiges - not exactly automobiles with parking lots. However, as our society has become more auto-dependant, parking has obviously become more of an issue. The structure of buildings and streets have changed.

A perfect example of this is Hamilton Boulevard. First, think of 9th and Hamilton in Allentown. Street parking is available and parking lots are placed in the back of buildings. As a result, buildings are closer to the sidewalk and the entire area is very pedestrian friendly. These streets are build to encourage pedestrian traffic.

Now go west down the same street into Upper Macungie. Suddenly, buildings are hundreds of feet back from the curb. The speed limit has increased, there are five lanes for traffic and sidewalks are either not used or non-existant. Parking lots are in the front of buildings and always have far more spaces then necessary. These areas were build to encourage vehicular traffic.

As a result, the perception exists that Main Streets do not have adequate parking to meet the needs of its businesses and residents. But here is the question: how accurate is that perception?

In Alburtis, David Kutzor (Chair of the Alburtis Business Revitalization Committee) completed a parking study. Dave counted every parking space available within the Main Street area (Main and Franklin Streets and all streets within one block of this area) for businesses, residents and parking lots.

Within this space, there are 59 properties. For these 59 properties, there are 430 parking spaces. In other wrods, for every property, there are roughly six parking spaces. The conclusion is that there is more than enough parking for businesses and residents.

Kind of interesting, don't you think?

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