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Three Things Taveras Admin. Can Do to Make Up for Its Promo Video

(In case you're wondering what video I mean, check out our last post)

The 70s were nice, but let's not go back please.

Union Station used to have not a skating rink, but a parking lot across from it.  And it wasn't intended as a park & ride, either.  It was an example of the city turning itself over wholesale to cars.  In 1970 1975, when this photo was taken, this wasn't the only thing covered in parking and not functioning at all.  The river was under concrete and covered with a monstrous and deadly road, and lots of places to leave your car.

You all remember that?  I can't say I know that Providence first hand, but I've heard enough about it from others and seen enough from these types of photos to know that I wouldn't want to be there.

Why is Providence selling its downtown on the "thousands of parking spots" it has?  Moreover, why is it doing that with Kennedy Plaza in the background?  Is it really trying to rub it in to RIPTA?  Is it trying to give the finger one more time to its bicycle community?  

Today was a good day for Providence.  The city received national praise for the work of one of its businesses, Cluck! to ameliorate its impact on the Biggest Little's environment, leading to some really nice conversations in social media and among neighbors about what kinds of positive changes are occurring in the city.  The city seems unwilling to adapt to the positive changes its private sector already wants.

Providence's myopic insistence on ignoring other modes of transportation that are not cars and touting its hideous overindulgence in parking space results in:

*Fewer apartments and houses, more spread out, and more expensive (See Ted Nesi article on lack of new housing, and this graphic explanation by Portland, Oregon's city government on housing prices and parking's effect on rents and mortgages).
*More pollution (from cruising for free parking, from impervious surfaces, and from inducement to drive more in general)
*Fewer jobs and a worse economy:  When we all get free and ample parking, we can pretend the price goes away, but what actually happens is it just gets tucked into the price of our goods and services, and taken out of our wages and taxes.  A single parking spot averages $15,000, and that cost comes from somewhere (in some cases from the state government).
*Uglier spaces: Look, the ad is right, there's plenty to see in Providence.  But the parking isn't it.  Although there's plenty of it, as you can see in this image from Greater City Providence of downtown.

Here's what Providence can do to make it up to us, since this video was a major screw up:

1.  It can waive the $12 a spot fee Providence Park(ing) Day is going to have to raise money for to get a permit each parklet it creates.  The spots in question are unmetered--if they were metered, we could claim them just by paying the meter--so cars never pay to use these spots anyway.  The permitting process does not reserve the spot--to do that one must pay another $85 per spot.  It's just $12 to pay for the intention of being in the spot, with no guarantees to be able to use it.  The Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee has already indicated to us privately that it wants the city to do this, and that at its next meeting it will take an official vote.  We would like the mayor's office to step up and take care of this, please.

2.  Charge actual drivers for the actual parking they're doing.  Providence put out a $40 Million bond, which the bicycling and public transportation community has jumped behind sycophantically on the hopes that some of the roads (not the major ones) will get some sharrows (but no traffic calming). The roads definitely needed the repaving, so the bond itself wasn't a bad idea, but non-drivers who are paying taxes to Providence should have gotten a lot more in return for having to help repay the debt. Providence has thought of every possible creative way to cut services and raise taxes in order to make its budget work.  Let's try having people pay for the things they use, at least when it comes to parking spots.

3.  Make another tourism video, and this time, something more like this (nod to Stephen Miller of Streetsblog for sharing this video, by the way--now that's a tourism ad!):

Providence:  Just take a deep breath.  Disco is dead, and the '70s aren't coming back.  Buy a RIPTA card and jump on the bus like the rest of us--no change needed.

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