Sidewalk Parking Opponents Gain Ground in . . . Where?

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It is hard to tell exactly where the sidewalk meets the street above, where cars dominate the streetscape and wreck the pedestrian experience. Maybe that’s what’s to be expected in Los Angeles, where the photo was taken.

As you can see, the upper row of cars are parked to straddle the curb (front wheels on the sidewalk, rear ends hanging into the street) while those in the bottom row are parked all the way on the sidewalk. None other than Michael Dukakis and Donald Shoup are waging a campaign to end this form of parking, which (guess what?) is illegal but unenforced.

Residents have turned apron parking into an intricately choreographed dance of cooperation and communication. A student attending class might leave extra keys behind so his car can be moved to let other vehicles out. Or another who vacates a spot might ask a roommate to park there until he returns. …

The prospect of losing spaces leaves students with few options.

"People are really worried," Zai said. "Students figure, ‘If I can pay for it and I have a car, I should be allowed to park here.’ That’s going to have to change."

But Dukakis believes that the changes will make the streets around the campus safer.

"You can’t get fire equipment out there. Beyond that, you can barely walk on the sidewalk," Dukakis said. "And for years, no one had done anything about it. It’s crazy."

The story contains this nugget: Dukakis found a ticket agent who refused to ticket the cars. When he suggested that the offending parkers could take the bus instead, "She looked at me like I had 10 heads or something."

(Photo by Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

  • vhamer

    do we always have to treat these issues as “the driver’s fault?” last time i checked, LA’s transit system was so poor that most drivers don’t really have other workable alternatives…so no wonder drivers in LA are so attached (and defensive about) their cars. leaving your keys behind seems like an act more of desperation than of courtesy.

    i’d support this move only if it is linked to initiatives that actually (and this is where “reduced fair bus tickets” don’t do the trick) provides options. we don’t have to play chicken and egg to know that investment in transit and usable public spaces will do wonders, while slapping at the symptoms does little.

  • fred

    > But more important, the Dukakis
    > Project prompted Shoup to send a
    > letter to city officials that said
    > that apron parking violated the
    > Americans With Disabilities Act.

    Hrm. Perhaps a similar letter is in order regarding NYPD and FDNY sidewalk parking.

  • “do we always have to treat these issues as “the driver’s fault?””

    it IS the driver’s fault…anyone who is parking his/her car on the sidewalk is personally responsible for where he/she parked the car. pay to park in a gargae, park in a less congested nearby neighborhood and walk, or better yet ride a bicycle or take the bus.

    i do agree that we need to improve public transit, but that shouldn’t give inconsiderate motorists a free pass in the meantime.

  • keri

    As a graduate of UCLA’s Urban Planning program (Transportation concentration), a former resident of the Westwood area, and a dedicated Shoupista, I must disagree with vhamer’s assertions. Westwood (and the UCLA campus) is one of the best-served neighborhoods in terms of transit options in all of LA. Okay fine, the Red line doesn’t go there but many buses from 4 different transit agencies do–including express service from all over the county-i think i recall it was something like 26 different lines serving the area…and students deserve no slack–Westwood is a full service and VERY walkable (and bikeable for that matter) neighborhood. One can get all daily needs met including a choice of grocery stores, and a ton of other shops, services and restaurants. Also, UCLA students and staff have deeply discounted transit passes for 3 of the transit providers that come to campus (Santa Monica, Culver City and LA Metro-the biggie). Not to mention cycling for those living within a few miles….Most students are at a point in their lives where they have greater flexibility in terms of living close to school, taking transit, biking etc, because they don’t work far away from campus/home or have children or other major responsibilities. I know some do have to deal with crazy schedules but I would say they are the minority of cases. During my time working for UCLA campus transportation services we produced an excellent bike master plan and started a bike program to immediately implement positive changes such as secure parking, a student run bike shop, and other incentives. UCLA students don’t need cars! Oh, I almost forgot to mention that when they do need a car, FlexCar car sharing has cars parked on campus and it’s free for students and staff to join.

    Regarding “slapping the symptons” not working-actually yes, it does. When you charge drivers what it actually costs to drive and park they will change their behavior based on how much their time or a particular activity is worth. It’s true that good transit, biking and walking options must be provided but in the case of Westwood and most of the Westside of LA/Santa Monica, this infrastructure exists. It can always be improved, say with dedicated bus lanes and additional bike lanes but that is starting to happen. I lived in LA car-free for over 2 years and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    PS. Cycling in LA is way breezier than most would expect. Curb space is spacious on many roads and traffic are typically moving quite slowly. I commuted almost daily by bike or a combination of bike and bus (ALL buses in LA county have bike racks.) Did I mention the awesome biking weather year round? Bikesummer 2005 blew the lid off the hidden bikeability of Los Angeles!

  • Sean

    Not to minimize a very productive discussion (nice work, Keri), but can you imagine all ten of the heads in tank helmets?

    Please resume responsible posting …

  • v

    hey keri –

    thanks for the info on UCLA’s transit options – sounds like maybe this area does have a lot of the needed infrastructure. maybe i’ve just seen a lot of similar commentary re: areas that don’t have options? or worse, places (esp colleges) that are better at marketing (bike plans, etc) than planning.

    also, to respond to mike, i’m happy with enforcement. in the comment you quote, my contention is not with the dukakis/shoup campaign. if there are signs up that say “no parking” yet nobody deals with the folks who don’t follow the signs, really what can you expect? i’m not talking about a free pass (guilt-free, free as in beer, whatever), i’m just talking about a little context and a little attention to who/how we villify.

    -v

  • mfs

    I took the bus when I was in LA and it was fine- actually a lot faster than an NYC bus.

  • strattle?

  • ABG

    Next time I walk past the fire station here in Queens and some fireman’s blocked half the sidewalk, at least I’ll know how much worse it could be. LA is just nuts.

  • AD

    Adam, fixed. Thanks. (Uh, not sure how that happened.)

    Re: blaming the drivers. One of the things that encourages people to drive is ample parking provided on the sidewalk. When the law gets enforced and people no longer have this option, they willl have to pay good money to park and so some will prefer to take the bus. More people riding the bus will create more political will for better service and will provide more revenue to finance it. Hopefully this campaign, if successful, will be just a little impetus to start a virtuous cycle.

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