Over the past two weeks, my street has been under renovation. Two Thursdays ago, the Department of Transportation tore up the existing pavement, leaving what remained a chewed-up, muddy mess. They got around to repaving it yesterday.
This is one of the few times you’ll ever get to see a street completely clear; when they’re closed for parades or construction, you usually have barricades, cones, or emergency vehicles marring the view.
The street is 30 feet wide. What can you imagine doing with that much space?
I can see a group of neighborhood kids playing a game of stickball, as once was the mode throughout the borough. Instead, almost half of that area is devoted to the free public storage of private vehicles.
Just as a mathematical exercise, let’s assume the parking lanes are 8 feet wide and a long block measures 750 feet. That means there is a total of 12,000 square feet of free parking space on a block. Let’s knock that down to 10,000 square feet to account for “no parking” zones in front of fire hydrants, schools, and churches.
The average cost of residential space in my zip code is $892 per square foot. That means the total value of the street space that the city gives away for free is nearly $9 million. And that’s on my block alone.
Of course, that doesn’t even take into account the quality-of-life issues germane to a car-centric environment. That remaining 14 feet of space in the middle of the road is useless to people unprotected by a steel cage; I’m guessing you can’t picture anything fun happening in the photo above, which I took this morning.
With a deal like that, it’s no wonder many residents get up in arms when a proposed improvement for all users threatens to “take away” even one of these spots.