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Lessons for the Brooklyn arena from Streetsblog: don't make parking easier

Now that Assemblyman Jim Brennan's thinking of requiring more parking near the Atlantic Yards arena, it's worth looking at an extensive 6/15/11 Streetsblog analysis, Can Brooklyn Build a Pedestrian-Friendly Arena at the Atlantic Yards Site?

Noah Kazis writes:
The fundamentals for a smart solution are there: The Atlantic/Pacific hub makes the area better-served by transit than almost anywhere else in the United States. Right now, though, the picture is more mixed. The state recently released its transportation plan for the arena, a plan largely in line with past promises from both the Empire State Development Corporation and the developer Forest City Ratner, which is intended to mitigate the increased traffic that the crowds heading to an arena event will bring to the surrounding neighborhoods. Many of the features, like free subway fares for certain Nets ticket holders and 400 secure bike parking spaces, will help make the Barclays Center more transit-oriented and bike and pedestrian-friendly.

But the developer is planning to build an 1,100-space surface parking lot, killing street life and inducing driving. And with some of the borough’s deadliest streets left in place as enormous traffic arteries, walking and cycling will remain overly dangerous, potentially keeping features like a temporary plaza from being much more than a hard-to-reach traffic island.
In other words, the argument is for fewer parking spaces, not more.

What to do

Streetsblog look at "what some other urban stadiums"--er, arenas, too--"are doing to promote sustainable transportation, and then in a later post we’ll see what top planners think needs to happen to make this arena work for Brooklyn."

The Verizon Center in Washington, DC, is on top of a Metro station and gets about 60 percent of its visitors via transit.

Streetsblog says that there's only a small amount of off--street parking provided by the arena, but I'd add that, unlike with the Atlantic Yards site, there are 10,000 surface parking spaces within ten blocks. Madison Square Garden also lacks dedicated arena parking, but is in a business district.

But Washington, DC, has done something wise: it has eliminated nearby free parking and instead charges a premium rate at the meters.

For Nationals Park, the city has instituted "performance parking"--essentially demand-based (or "congestion") pricing for parking, meaning that price goes up when demand does. (One commenter says the park is surrounded by surface parking.)

In Boston, outside Fenway Park, development has replaced parking lots, thus spurring more people to take public transit. And the nearby town of Brookline charges much more for parking.


On the comments, Prospect Heights resident Danae Oratowski pointed out that free subway tickets may not be enough to get residents to stop driving, while free Long Island Railroad tickets might be a better incentive.

Moreover, she wrote:
Without zoning changes, there is the potential for the growth of a parking industry in the M1-1 zone to the east of the project in Prospect/Crown Heights, where parking lots can be built as of right.
Another commenter pointed out:
This is a great question, but the headline is misleading. Brooklyn did not build this arena - it was rammed down our throats by an unimaginative developer with great political connections.


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