Parking, bikes and meaningless words

There’s a lot wrapped up with the issue of parking in Ottawa. We devote a lot of space to parking. We encourage driving…then decide to allot more space to cars. Parking is basically allowed everywhere–parks, sidewalks, bike lanes–with only token enforcement undertaken by the city.

But one of the biggest issues is the way we subsidize parking so very very much. Specifically, as we continue to jack up transit prices, we are unwilling, politically, to raise the price of parking (then spend all-day Friday and Saturday promoting cheap parking at City Hall).

Naturally, people object to this backwards reality. At a recent budget consultation, residents asked why we don’t raise parking rates to help pay for city services. The answer, supposedly, is “that parking revenue can’t be used to pay for other things. Has to go back into parking-like programs.”

One Twitter user asked what these weirdly-named “parking-like programs” are? Transportation Chair and Knoxdale-Merivale Councillor Keith Egli decided to answer:

His colleague, Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper, decided this was a “mic drop” response.

It wasn’t. It was a cynical, bordering on smarmy, response. He said something factually true that he knew would score points, debating style.

First off, so? Raise parking rates and just sit on a pile of money that the province won’t let you spend. Or if you have to spend it, gold-plate every damned parking spot in the city. Or, you know, jack up the rates, cut demand and then reduce the amount of public space wasted for private car storage.

Of how about you actually do what you suggest?

I was at home when I read this exchange. As regular readers know, I basically live on Bank Street in the Glebe. There are some bike corralls, but not nearly enough. Bikes are locked to street signs, trees and benches. Bike posts are damaged by city vehicles and never replaced. We have a dearth of spots for bike parking.

We also re-built Bank Street really badly, and the sidewalks are not nearly wide enough for all the traffic they get. I would love to get rid of the sidewalk bike racks and install more on-street corrals. Put one on each side of the street on every block. Pay for it by finally increasing street parking prices.

I asked Egli if he supported raising parking rates to pay for more bike corrals.

His silence demonstrated the sincerity of his “mic drop”.

2 thoughts on “Parking, bikes and meaningless words

  1. Remember that time a few years ago, when bike crrals were added to Wellington West, and the city acceded to the pressure of the Wellington West BIA and some of its members to remove the bike corral near Saslove’s? THAT kind of parking-like item, ie, totally expendable.

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