Last week’s Wednesday Journal contained a letter to the editor with a very misleading headline. It was titled “The benefits of raising parking rates”; however, that was just a small aspect of the article. I actually would not be that upset if parking rates increased by a dollar an hour, as long as we kept that hour and a half or even an hour free, rather than a hard-to-keep-track-of 45 minutes. However, the letter took a much more extreme and unrealistic position.
The writer suggests that everyone give up short-distance use, or even total ownership, of cars. The writer says that everyone lives within 5 miles of shopping in Oak Park and therefore they should bike or walk there. I do not own a bike, and as a senior citizen with osteoporosis, it would be a very bad idea for me to purchase one and risk a fall that could lead to a life-changing injury. Nor am I going to walk an 8-mile round-trip to Downtown Oak Park.
First of all, while I do walk a mile or so almost every day, 8 miles is more than my back could handle. Secondly, what would I do with my purchases? I would be hesitant to buy anything that I knew I would have to carry home.
There is also the time factor. I am a very busy person. Think about how long it would take me to walk to downtown, shop and then walk home. I would have to devote the entire day to it, and I cannot do that.
And what about people who are handicapped or have young children with them? Then there is the factor that we do not live in a warm climate. In winter it is very unrealistic to ask people to take very long walks. Indeed, if it is at all snowy or icy that is actually hazardous.
I read a few years ago that our garages were deliberately kept inexpensive to encourage people to use them and leave the street parking free for quick stops. Driving around looking for street parking also adds to pollution. That fact, and the potential of increased tax revenue from shoppers who take their time and therefore are likely to buy more, is probably why towns like Elmhurst make their garages free.
Worst of all, the writer suggest that new developments not provide off-street parking for their residents. I hardly know anyone who doesn’t own a car. Even if they don’t own a car, what about when they have visitors or service calls? Where are those people supposed to park? The residents and visitors would be filling the garages and parking spaces so that the rest of us will add to pollution driving around longer looking for parking.
If I did not own a car, how would I possibly visit family members who live in various suburbs? How would I get to jobs I may book that may not be accessible by public transportation? How would I bring groceries home?
Any new residents are bound to have similar questions. I have purchased a hybrid and try to reduce my local driving but cannot eliminate it. Think about all the residents we have already whose lives are made difficult because their buildings do not have parking. Why would we make it worse?
Cars are a fact of life and won’t be going away for a very long time, so we have to accommodate them. In a few more years, all the cars will be EVs anyway. New developments should be required to have lots of charging stations in addition to sufficient parking spaces. People already joke that Oak Park should be called “No Park.” Let’s not make it worse.
Joyce Porter is a resident of Oak Park.