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Newark Clears Bike Lane of Cars, Solves Parking Problem With Meters Instead

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Newark's stopgap solution to a parking crunch was to allow parking in the bike lane (see upper right). Since then it's found a more sensible option: meters. Photo: WalkBikeJersey
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Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Three months after Newark drew national attention for considering removal of New Jersey's only protected bike lane in order to allow illegal double-parking, the city has found a different solution.

Instead of designing the Mt. Prospect Avenue commercial strip around letting people park their cars two rows deep along the curb, the district is installing parking meters.

"Simply by adding parking meters and limiting parking to two hours, legal parking spots are now freed up for shoppers, rather than being occupied for hours or days at a time by residents and shop owners," reports the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition. "As a result, bike riders regained access to New Jersey’s first parking-protected bike lane, and newly-enacted street parking regulations will ensure that there is an ample supply of parking for customers of businesses along Mt. Prospect Avenue."

There's no question that nearby parking is important to most retail businesses. But you don't have to be a small business owner to understand that when you can't fill all your customers' orders, it's probably time to raise your prices a bit. That's exactly what was happening in the North Ward: Parking spaces in a desirable area were available for $0, so naturally they were selling out. The district has now responded by raising its parking prices, and is no longer running out of space.

As for the protected bike lane itself: As any commercial district gets busier and more prosperous, it needs to gradually free itself from complete dependence on car parking by making it easy and appealing for some customers to get there by other means. Kudos to Newark for finding a way to do that for its businesses.

Interested in the conflicts between car parking and bike lanes? Newark's decision to charge what on-street parking is worth is No. 6 on our list of 10 ways to convert parking space to movement space.

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