Thursday, January 13, 2011

Austin Downtown Parking Meters

I think this new development could be the perfect opportunity to encourage biking downtown.

The city of Austin is considering extending the hours for metered parking in the downtown area to midnight and on Saturdays.  The city council claims that this to encourage turnover for parking spaces, but of course they are looking to get a cool 3 million in the process. A lot of people are getting steamed about paying up for something that used to be free.  Others are curious about whose going to police all of these spots, and where their salaries will come from, of course.

I say sidestep the future no win situation of parking downtown and ride your bike.  As far as I know, bike racks are still free. I'm not the only one thinking in this vein, from the Statesman blog comments comes Pat:

Why charge six days a week? Anywhere in the city limits, seven days a week 24 hours a day, those meters should be collecting money, period! People whine all the time, ride a bike, take the bus or just walk to those areas that a parking meter is open for money collection.

While I think he is being facetious in the first part, his solution is practicable, in my opinion.  Of course there comes the naysayer:

Pat, our taxes pay for those roads. Ride a bike? Are you nuts?, it’s freezing out there. And when it’s not freezing, Austin is to hot to ride a bike. We all can’t work at a sandwich shop. Now, get back to work. I’ll take a turkey sandwich, on whole wheat.

First comes the taxes argument, which I think others have admirably taken apart and shown how utterly off the mark it is. (Question: How come no one thinks of taxing pedestrians? They use the roads too and don't pay those nasty buggers.)  The rest is spoken like someone who hasn't swung their leg over a bike since they were seven.

I recently biked downtown to the Kung Foo Saloon off of 5th street and something.  At night. When it was cold.  Now, this was on a like Tuesday night at eight, so my experience might not be typical as if you went on the weekends, but close enough I say.  I parked my bike right in front of the bar.  When I was done with the date at around eleven, I biked home.  My date had actually walked from his place on West Campus.

So, we both did what Pat said and got home safe in one piece.  I for one, was not cold as I was wearing this thing called a jacket.  Obviously, if your going downtown to get dead drunk because its your bachelor/21st b-day/got a new job party, then you shouldn't bike.  You can still get a DUI on a bike.  

But if you live nearby and are up for it, I think its a legitimate option.  Save money, stiff the city of Austin, and work off all that beer you had.  Win Win!

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