Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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Opinion: Why you should have to pay to park in Downtown Naperville

Opinion%3A+Why+you+should+have+to+pay+to+park+in+Downtown+Naperville
Adeline Tse

Closing down Jefferson Avenue in Downtown Naperville certainly has the potential to be effective in reducing dangerous congestion, as Nolan Shen argues besides this story.

However, this solution completely misses the source of that congestion: the never-ending search for parking.

Parking-seekers crawl through Downtown Naperville, searching for ever-elusive street spaces until settling for one of Naperville’s parking garages when no parking presents itself.

So even if we close Jefferson as Nolan suggests, people will still trawl the surrounding streets for parking. The congestion there won’t go away, and if anything it’ll get worse. Cutting off an entire road through the middle of downtown makes it difficult to travel across the area, making traffic even worse.

The solution to parking-driven congestion is to make parking in these areas a LOT less desirable. How exactly do you do that? Well, you just start charging for parking.

I’m guessing most people reading this are mad even at the suggestion of parking meters, but hear me out. Oh, and most of this next section is based off of ideas presented in Henry Grabar’s “Paved Paradise,” a book focused entirely on parking’s impacts on American cities, so rest assured there is research backing this up and I’m not just a high schooler with ideas.

Making street parking downtown significantly more expensive than the parking garages around them (which are free, so it shouldn’t be that hard) incentivises people to park in the garages more. There is a certain price difference between street and garage parking that results in open and readily available spots on the street. That exact price needs to be found experimentally by changing street meter prices until balance is realized, but that will only take a year or so. This technique was implemented in San Francisco, where prices settled between $1 and $4 per hour depending on the street. 

Open spaces don’t sound particularly good- that’s unused space, right? That’s wasteful? Well, not really. Having 10-30% of street parking spots available at any given time allows for the people who want or need parking close to their destination to find a spot easily, but the price deters those who don’t need close parking spaces from clogging up the street.

What does this ultimately look like when implemented? Well, it’s pretty simple. People no longer need to troll the streets of downtown looking for parking, because close spaces will be open if they are willing to pay. If they aren’t, they’ll be able to go straight to a garage without slowing down to search for elusive street parking, content to park for free instead.

All of Nolan’s problems are resolved in this world: less cars on the street, less congestion, et cetera. Importantly, the impacts of less searching for parking are highly beneficial. People waste less of their time searching for a space, and spew less carbon from their care while idled in a line of congestion. It also brings revenue to the city of Naperville from parking meters.

This solution is good for everyone: parking spots are easier to find, there is less congestion, less idling and more money for the city to spend on improvements for their citizens. What’s not to like?

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About the Contributors
Jake Pfeiffer
Jake Pfeiffer, Editor-in-Chief
Jake Pfeiffer is a senior, entering his third year on the Central Times staff, this time as Editor-in-Chief. Jake joined CT as a sophomore because he wanted to write news, but since then he has grown to love just about every element of journalism. While it is rare to see Jake anywhere other than the CT office, occasionally you can find him captaining Central’s debate team, watching baseball, listening to a seemingly endless amount of podcasts or drowning in college applications.
Adeline Tse
Adeline Tse, Staff Artist
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