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Thanksgiving and ‘free’ parking … (posted Nov. 25) The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us and thus the begin-

ning of the Christmas shopping season, and city after city is offering “free” parking for folks coming downtown to shop. If you look at the news feeds, every other one is something about a certain garage, or downtown district, or shopping area pro- viding “free” parking. Bah, humbug! The Christmas shopping season is hectic enough without

having to run around searching for parking. Charges help pro- vide parking by culling out the folks who can park in off-street lots and in structures far from the shopping area. These people are the employees who work in these stores and offices. If you offer“free” parking, they will simply get there before

the stores open, fill the choice spaces, and your customers – those who have hundred dollar bills dripping out of their pock- ets and purses – will be forced to park blocks away and fight their way to your front door. Shopping areas should think about what they are going to

do about their employees and free up those spaces for shoppers. My suggestion? Find a lot nearby (even a vacant one) and have your employees park there. Provide a shuttle to the shopping area for them. Just think: If just 20 stores with 10 people working in each did this, it would free up 200 spaces. And assuming that each

shopper taking those spaces spends two hours, that means that in a 10-hour shopping day 2,000 people would have had safe, convenient parking right out front of your store. Changing the rules and providing “free” parking, particu-

larly that which says something like, “First two hours free,” leads to citations, misunderstandings, anger and public rela- tions nightmares. Stay the course; be consistent, free up parking spaces.

Remember, the lots and streets around your stores are like churches and temples. You don’t build them for Easter or Yom Kippur. So be creative, make allowances, and have a happy Thanksgiving and a perfect Christmas shopping season.

‘Free’ parking is in our genes (posted Nov. 24) In his excellent posting over at the ParkingWorld Blog, Pete

Goldin quotes Ashok Datar, a transport expert in Mumbai, India, who says building off-street parking won’t work if people can park for free on-street. Datar channels Don Shoup almost word for word. In India, as in the U.S. and Europe, that “birthright” of

free parking is ever present. I always joked that it was in the gov- erning documents of a country, whether a constitution, the Magna Carta or the Treaty of Lisbon. However, Pete’s post has had me rethink that position. It must be in the human genome. Continued on Page 60

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