Monday, June 19, 2017

Consultants' Findings from Princeton Parking Study

Consultants Nelson Nygaard presented findings from Princeton's ongoing Parking Study on June 14. A PDF file of the slides can be downloaded from Princeton's Parking Study page.

The presentation is packed with interesting information about the current parking situation in our town. Just to whet your appetite:

• There is a total of 7,025 parking spaces in the downtown core.
• Those parking spaces are at most 53% occupied (peak demand is at lunch time).
• The Spring Street municipal garage is used at a higher rate than the commercial garages due to lower pricing and validation options.
• Nearly 90% of customers and employees drive alone to downtown.

The presentation touches on a few ideas on parking management, but the main takeaway is this: Princeton needs to be pro-active about parking. We need to first determine what kind of parking availability we want, then design a parking system that will give us that kind of availability.

There is a suite of strategies to help us get there This could be an effective pricing structure. It could be a "payment in lieu" scheme where a new development is allowed to build less parking than specified by the town requirements, in lieu of an annual payment that could go towards funding - say - more public transit; It could be time sharing parking, e.g. where private parking restricted to office employees are opened to customers of restaurants after office hours. These are mentioned at the end of the presentation.

The updated numbers (total 7,025 parking spaces, of which 1,633 on-street) are significant for the Bicycle Master Plan. We have identified 176 on-street parking spaces on key corridors, removal of which would complete a low-stress bicycle network  (Witherspoon St and the Hamilton - Wiggins corridor). According to the updated numbers, those 176 spaces are 2.5% of the total number of parking spaces downtown.

Princeton's Engineering Department invites your comments and/or questions after reviewing the presentation. Please send them to The parking consultants will be formulating an approach over the summer; a public meeting to discuss draft strategies is slated for September.

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