Saturday, February 28, 2015

Winter Parking and Shoveling Strategies

What's the sustainable feature in this photo? No, I'm not referring to the Prius, which gets little use because we bike or walk most everywhere, even in winter. Nor is the red oak the subject of this post, though it shades the pavement and cools the air around our house in the summer.

The answer relevant to bicycling, actually, is the asphalt the Prius is standing upon. Not that asphalt is so great; in fact, the world would be better off with much less of it, and I'd rather the car were perched on pervious pavers instead. But there's something in that small patch of pavement, extending far enough towards the house from the sidewalk to fit a parked car, that could contribute in a big way to making Princeton more sustainable in the future.

The logic goes like this: Tuesday evening at the town council meeting, organized in opposition to bike lanes along Hamilton Avenue, residents argued with at least temporary success that the loss of their street parking privileges would leave them hugely inconvenienced. There was at the same time a strong expression, including from council members, of the need to make Princeton more bike-friendly. To do that along main routes like Hamilton Ave, street parking will need to be curtailed or banned altogether.

Given the strong support for a more bike-friendly town, bike lanes may be seen as inevitable on Hamilton Ave. If it's just a matter of time, then homeowners there should be taking advantage of the imminent street repaving to request additional or wider curb cuts in front of their homes to accommodate short driveway spurs of the sort in the photo.


There's another sustainable aspect to these small spurs for off-street parking. To the right of the car in the photo is a driveway that extends down to a garage, blocked by snow for weeks now. Rather than shovel the long driveway, or pay for a snow-blower or plowing service, I took a more back- and pocketbook-friendly approach and left the car parked close to the street as the snowstorm approached, then shoveled only the top portion, which is wide enough to accommodate two cars side by side. Though we have no street parking in front of our house, if a friend or workman stops by, they can park in the extra space next to our car.

More off-street parking options also aid the town's plowing of streets, which can be complicated by cars left on the street.

It may seem like a minor thing, yet the lack of this sort of off-street parking plays a big role in scuttling progress towards a more bike-friendly town. Seemingly mundane changes like these determine whether high-minded goals like sustainability can be reached.

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