When parking and driving become difficult, people should not elect to stay home. Rather, they should use alternative means of transportation that are better for the climate, better for air quality and better for our future. I happen to live near two of your awful parking lots and my husband and I have found that we can actually walk or bike to many of the restaurants and shops in Plaza Midwood or on 7th Street just as easily. In fact, many of our neighbors do the same now, and we see them out getting exercise, reducing their carbon footprint and enjoying the sights along the way.
I read with amusement your article about the 10 worst parking lots in Charlotte, and I recognized most of them — and I agree with your assessment of their efficiency. However, there is an underlying positive side to this story that I hoped you would highlight more, knowing how many of your readers care about clean air and mitigating climate change.
If Charlotte wants to continue to grow, there will be more and more parking nightmares that develop unless we all realize that it is better for us to try other ways of getting places, whenever we can — public transit, scooters, bikes, shared rides or walking. We also need more clean air and climate advocates to tell developers and city leaders that we need sidewalks, we need well-lit and accessible bus and transit stops, and we need rules of the road that respect cyclists.
We are also going to need to expand on our transit system, replace dirty diesel with all electric vans and buses (as many cities around the world are doing) and build less parking and more density around transit stops. We all need to advocate for more rooftop solar and a faster transition to renewables for Duke Energy as well.
The reduction in parking has another positive side effect — it lowers the cost of housing, so that developers can build more quickly and less expensively, and pass on those savings in the form of lower rents for our middle class and hourly workers. We all know about the affordable housing crunch in our city and with the right amount of public support, this parking requirement could change.
So you can complain all you like about difficult parking, but in the end, we should be glad we are forced to re-consider getting into our gas-guzzling, climate-damaging vehicles (except those who have gone all-electric, and we are grateful for you!). I know all the bike commuters agree with me that it is time to build our infrastructure for the future we need in order to sustain our planet. So thanks, Queen City Nerve, for pointing out yet one more reason to get that monthly bus pass, some good walking shoes or a great road bike instead.
Jennifer Roberts, 58th Mayor of Charlotte
Director, Communities Program, ecoAmerica