As an Athenian who lives several miles outside of town away from public transport routes and who relies on an automobile to access Court Street, I appreciate the efforts to “keep vehicles moving” through the spaces for parking uptown (cover article in The Athens NEWS, June 20). However, I am at a loss to figure out how to utilize a 20-minute parking space.
The only thing I could come up with is making a bank deposit, but that single errand wouldn’t bring me past other banks I’d have to drive by to get there. Driving to town just to get a cappuccino or a bagel might necessitate more time to wait in line – cutting it close to receiving a parking ticket thereby negating the usefulness of a 20-minute spot. I suppose if there were no lines at a fast food joint, it could be useful – but isn’t that why most of fast-food outlets requiring drive-thrus and parking lots to meet profitability goals locate themselves elsewhere?
Somehow certain uptown corporate franchise businesses – some of which close when the students leave town – now require their own parking zone? It seems like a concession to a very specific type of uptown business that takes jobs and tax dollars off Court Street and out of Athens in the summer and winter months when parking is more readily available.
I’ve adapted to accomplishing multiple tasks when visiting uptown to avoid wasting resources and money while adding carbon to the atmosphere. Visiting the bank, buying a cup of coffee, picking up a prescription could all be accomplished within an hour, but depending on lines when college is in session, perhaps not.
This forces one to add extra time to a meter – something I’m apparently being encouraged NOT to do with price increases and smaller increments. Previously, an extra 30-minute buffer kept me from a meter violation. Now it’s gambling on 10-20 minute durations with each quarter. The house ALWAYS wins.
I’m still feeding meters more than I need to, leaving behind unused time to avoid tickets from increasingly technologically enabled and diligent parking-enforcement officers. I have never as Mr. Lucas put it, “reserved the maximum time just because it’s inexpensive.”
A distant “low-intensity zone” with a two-hour limit doesn’t seem like much encouragement to park farther away, spending 20-30 minutes walking to save a dollar while losing a fourth of total parking time. People will always pay more for practical convenience and ability to accomplish tasks in a timely manner. (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a sign for 10-hour zone – are they in The Plains? Do people really use half a roll of quarters for that?)
The trick is persuading folks that the time spent driving to the top of the parking garage is worth the investment instead of circling the streets using four more quarters to avoid smelling urine or living in fear of crime. Perhaps the planned upgrades, lighting, painting, and washing the structure regularly will help. I have doubts it will have much effect until parking fees on our streets have at least doubled again, leaving the garage a far more affordable option.
On most occasions I endeavor to mindfully park farther away from Court Street, walking a few blocks instead of burning gas driving around searching for a spot. Now that others will occupy these “underused,” “moderate-intensity” (cheaper) spots that were once more regularly available, I will be forced farther away into residential areas. It’s that or cruising laps of uptown for an expensive and premium luxury non-20-minute meter – until giving up and then driving in circles to the top of the garage looking for one of the last few spots advertised by the new sign.
I guess the changes certainly will accomplish the goal of “keeping my vehicle moving” – or just encourage me to completely avoid the city of Athens particularly during Move-in, Move-out, Homecoming, Graduation, Halloween, Parent’s Weekend, Mom’s Weekend, Dad’s Weekend, Events at Memorial Auditorium, etc., etc., etc.
Editor’s note: John Sullivan of Athens is an Athens native and alumnus of Ohio University who has worked as a photographer and graphic designer, diligently attempting to avoid parking-violation fines while living here and other cities such as Pittsburgh, Boulder, Colorado, and Brooklyn, New York.”