LOCKPORT – Two graduate students who spent their summer on a detailed study of downtown Lockport’s parking problem have concluded that the “problem” is a mirage.
“There’s not really a shortage. It’s just that people want to park in front of their final destination. There’s plenty of parking right around the corner,” Amanda Fowler told the Common Council.
Fowler and Leyla Akhundzada, master’s degree candidates in the University at Buffalo’s urban planning program, laboriously counted the parking spaces in the business district and took detailed surveys of their occupancy on various days of the week and times of day.
The students concluded that the 168 spaces along Main Street are seldom more than half full, with a peak usage of 50.38 percent, while the off-street parking lots’ peak utilization was 53 percent.
Despite that, 76 percent of store owners who responded to a written survey said there was a parking problem in downtown Lockport.
However, only 27 of 300 surveys were returned.
There are particular lots that are heavily used, such as the municipal lot on Chestnut Street where the Labatt Canal Concert Series was held this summer.
That lot, usually used by customers of the Lockport Family YMCA and the Lockport Public Library, averaged 61 percent capacity, with a peak usage of 91 percent.
The city will be adding a new 42-space lot soon, on the site of the just-demolished parking ramp at Main and Pine streets.
Akhundzada said if downtown is perceived as safe and clean, people will be more willing to walk a little from parking spots to stores.
She and Fowler said it took them only nine minutes to walk from Transit Street to Washburn Street, the conventional east and west boundaries of downtown. They measured the distance as 0.44 miles.
Akhundzada said the city ought to install bike racks on Main Street and remove the two-hour parking limit signs on Market Street north of the Bewley Building, adding 10 to 15 on-street spaces.
Mayor Michael W. Tucker called the report “outstanding … The recommendations, I think, are spot-on.”
He said the Council will discuss the study at an upcoming meeting and gave the students certificates of appreciation.