Parsons Avenue

We recently became aware the city has plans to reduce on street parking on Parsons Avenue. Initially the reduction was by over 40%. The latest version looks to be about 38%. If this happens, we feel the bar will not survive and the potential for revitalization of existing residential and commercial properties will be diminished.

 

The following is a compilation of both fact and opinions on the matter.

 

First a little history:

The request for a parking study came from this community plan published in 2006: http://assets.columbus.gov/development/planning/ParsonsAveVisionPlan.pdf

This is the proposed plan for Parsons Avenue:
http://www.neighborhooddesign.org/parsons-road-diet.html

 

Now, for some opinions:

On the document labeled Road Diet:

  1. At first, it might seem like a good idea to put Parsons Avenue on a diet (reduce traffic, car counts, etc) for safety reasons. Having a business on Parsons Avenue makes any business person aware of traffic safety issues; however we would encourage other ways to accomplish that task. A reduction in car counts/traffic is bad for many businesses, maybe not ours, but certainly many others currently in place and potentially others that might consider locating to the area.
  2. Note the diagram labeled “Alternative 3” which shows the width of 8 feet for the permanent parking lane. Under this plan it will be even more treacherous to park and exit your car. Because the current on street parking area is used for driving during restricted times, it is currently 11 plus feet wide.
  3. Under the heading “Planned Goals”. While we agree with all 7 of the goals, we feel the solutions are flawed. Please see excerpts taken directly from the document and opinions below.

 

 

1. Calm traffic and enhance the area

  • Current Issues: Speed changes from 35 to 25mph at Whittier St.; Most cars travel 6-9mph over limit more often in 25mph zone.
  • Proposed Solution: 3 driving lanes (including turn lane) accompanied by transitions replacing 4 driving lanes.

 

Why wouldn’t the solution just be to reduce the speed limit to 25mph on the entire street and enforce that limit?

 

2. Reduce accidents and enhance safety

  • Current Issues: From Jan. 1, 2006 through Dec. 31, 2008, 526 accidents occurred along Parsons Avenue of which the most, approx. 33%, were rear ends, followed closely by 25% Side Swipe, 20% Angle, 11% Left Turn (the remaining accidents were a mixture of head on, backing, pedestrian, & fixed object).
  • Proposed Solution: Unrestricted parking on one side and eliminating all or most “No Left Hand Turns”

 

We will not argue with statistics; however we feel they should be backed up with comparable stats for other areas of town. We would also request documentation and/or statistics where the current issues above were helped by this proposed solution. Even if documentation exists, we would encourage other means to accomplish the goal without hurting small local businesses.

 

3. Maximize Parsons Avenue businesses success

  • Current Issues: Parsons is a more vehicular-friendly corridor than a pedestrian-friendly corridor & traffic often travels 31+mph past businesses
  • Proposed Solution: Reducing speed of traffic should add to visibility of businesses along Parsons Ave. and encourage pedestrians to utilize sidewalks and crosswalks
  • See Parson Ave. Business Parking Study below
  • Study makes recommendations to where on-street parking should remain to achieve the most parking for businesses while reducing flow of traffic from 4 to 3 lanes

 

We feel there are many flaws here. A traffic diet will not help many types of businesses. A reduction of on street parking will always have a significant negative effect on most businesses. Recommendations are based on where current businesses are open and operating and not where there is the potential for rehabilitation of existing buildings which, due to the age of the buildings, do not have either any or sufficient off street parking.

 

4. Improve parking access and safety

  • Current Issue: Restricted Parking during Peak Hours
  • Proposed Solution: Unrestricted parking on one side of street

 

This reflects a 38% overall reduction of on street parking on the corridor where there is not sufficient parking in many areas at various time of the day under the current parking count.

 

5. Promote walking by making it easier for pedestrians to cross roadways

  • Current Issue: “Crosswalks commonly exceeding 40’ in length, which deters people from crossing the streets” (Parsons Brinckerhoff – Parsons Ave. Corridor Study)
  • Proposed Solution: Curb Bump Outs at crosswalks shortens crosswalk length, which encourages people to cross the street

 

Seems to be an expensive solution to a possibly simple issue. How about clearly marking and/or adding crosswalks as is done in many other areas of the city.

 

6. Promote bicycling by providing bicycle lanes or shared lanes

  • Current Issues: No bike lane or shared lanes
  • Proposed Solutions: Sharrow markings to be added (lanes not wide enough to add separate bike lane)

 

We are all for promoting bicycling (if you are a regular customer of Hal & Al’s, you probably already know this). It seems however, to be a lot of lip service to bike issue but not a uniform cohesive policy or action. Seen the bike lanes up by children’s hospital? Why do it up there if it isn’t going to be continued on through the adjoining streets? We don't really have an answer but some bicyclists we know are not in favor of this type of traffic pattern and almost all are in favor of being pro small business.

 

7. Review transit operations and determine if amenities are needed

  • Current Issues: Street infrastructure and road pavement needs maintenance
  • Proposed Solutions: Paving of Parsons Ave. & addition of Mast Arm Traffic Lights

 

Maintenance is and will always be an issue. This should not be conditional upon any of the other issues.

 

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

The Urban Commercial Overlay (UCO) requires new buildings to be constructed with minimal setback and parking behind the building (amount of spaces required are specified by use). To accommodate revitalization in vacant buildings, on-street parking is recommended to remain in-front of the building where possible.

There is an abundance of vacant residential and commercial properties on the street that will not have any nor sufficient on street parking under this plan. This plan encourages the further devaluation of existing vacant buildings and therefore encourages the razing of buildings and assembling adjacent parcels to be developed into projects conforming to the UCO. While some may not find that objectionable, the 2006 study overwhelming suggests the use and revitalization of existing buildings.

Please follow the link below to sign our petition. The goal of this petition is just to get the city officials to look at some other options and listen to many individuals and businesses in the area. Thanks in advance for your support!