Well, now, hmm. I read in the Dominion Post that the Wellington City Council is considering an increase in parking fees and a 2-hour extension of the time during which a fee would be charged. If you didn’t see the article, maybe it’s because you’re on your bike and you’re all too happy to see a few less cars making quick left turns in front of you to score a precious parking place. I’m with you.
But I’d like to air some qualms. (Qualms are better after they’ve had a chance to breathe.)
Aside from raising a fair bit of revenue for the city (about $2.3 million per year), the fee increase would grant Wellington the questionable honor of offering the most expensive parking spots in New Zealand. I say questionable because there doesn’t seem to be any thought given to accommodating an alternative method of transportation that serves the other stated purpose of the potential fee hike: “turning over vehicles to promote economic activity.” Or at least, it’s not been reported.
So, I mean, hello? People on bikes spend money in town too. People on bikes go out for drinks. People on bikes buy clothes. They drink wine and eat kebabs and see plays and movies and concerts. They also don’t hog up to 25 square meters of space when they leave their vehicle to do this shopping. Oh, and they pay taxes that go toward the roads that they share with cars heading into town to pay exorbitant parking fees.
Unfortunately, when these silly revenue-generating parking policy discussions are advanced, it seems like the powers-that-be are blind to one of the likeliest consequences of the change– a bunch more bikes going to town to avoid the excessive cost of parking. After all, who wants to ride the bus? (Er, at least until they have bike racks.)
It’s all well and good to discourage cars from parking in the city; I’m a fan (even if that’s not really the purpose of the proposal). But what about providing for the increase in more sustainable travel options? If the fees are going up, I hope the Council recognizes the easy value they could add to the city center (and its economic activity) by adding or improving bike lanes and establishing more bike parking. Even if the fees don’t go up, it’d be pretty nice if the Council considered some decent incentives to get and keep people riding. Because driving isn’t getting any cheaper. Gas is pricey, cars are pricey, and parking is pricey even before a price hike. So… I think it’s fair to assert that the cycling community is only going to get bigger. How about planning a little for that? And telling us about the plans? I’m just sayin’.