“Detroit has enough parking!” transit ally Francis Grunow proclaimed at the Detroiters for Parking Reform protest on Friday, September 20th. Newly-formed advocacy group Detroiters for Parking Reform hosted the public launch of their campaign in a temporary pop-up park they created by taking over two street parking spaces. Grunow and Transportation Riders United (TRU) Outreach Coordinator Claire Nowak-Boyd gave passionate speeches on the current state of Detroit parking, and spoke about how mismanagement of already-built parking is the real reason it can be tricky to find an open space.
The event coincided with PARK(ing) Day, a global advocacy day. On (PARK)ing Day, activists transform street parking spaces into recreational parks and other functional spaces. Detroiters for Parking Reform built their temporary parklet in Cadillac Square.
In their press release, Detroiters for Parking Reform reports that “40% of Downtown [Detroit] is nothing more than car storage.” In his speech on Friday, Detroiters for Parking Reform co-founder Grunow used this fact to explain how the development of additional parking will not solve drivers’ frustrations. Instead, building additional lots and garages will undermine business development, damage environmental quality, and destroy historic buildings. Grunow believes City government must reconsider having parking minimums for new development, and conduct a comprehensive parking study, among other steps.
In her remarks, TRU’s Claire Nowak-Boyd reaffirmed the group’s message, and tied it to TRU’s mission of advancing transportation equity. “Do we want to use our limited space to move people, or to store cars?” she asked. Taxing surface parking as if it is undeveloped land all but guarantees it will remain parking, Nowak-Boyd pointed out. She added that surface parking “actively brings down the walkability and appeal of the surrounding area.” Grunow agreed, and asserted that investing in public transportation would create “less of a need for commuter parking.”
Detroiters for Parking Reform invites those interested in this issue to get involved. More information is available at their website, reformdetroitparking.org. You can also check them out on Facebook (Detroiters for Parking Reform) and Twitter (@DetroitParking).