Friday, June 26, 2009

Transport: Parking in the Median

A car was parked in the median of Queen Street near the Centotaph in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario on 26-June-2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO - While visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario today, it was noticed that delivery trucks tended to park in the middle of Queen Street to make their deliveries. Drivers making a fast run into stores on the street would also park their cars in the median for a minute or two, then rush back and drive away. Whether technically legal or not, the practice was clearly commonplace, and seemingly functional.

Locations with parking in the middle of a street usually exist because of some unusual history or geography on a street. Burnett Avenue South in Renton, Washington once had a railroad right-of-way in the middle of the street. When the railroad was abandoned, the city decided to turn the space into parking. There is parking in the middle of Lake Shore Drive West in Toronto largely because of substantial space created by bridges and other obstructions that caused the lanes in each direction to be separated by some distance.

There seems to be little advantage to having parking in the middle of a street--it creates vehicles exiting and entering from the "fast" and unexpected side of the street and it creates a challenge for those who have parked to get to either side of the street except perhaps in a one-lane situation like Niagara-on-the-Lake. The only positive seems to be using geography--like the area around the Cenotaph in Niagara-on-the-Lake or in the Lake Shore Drive situation in Toronto--that cannot be used for flowing traffic.

The strangest thing about the median parking in Niagara-on-the-Lake is that there is parking on each side of Queen Street. It would seem to me that what the city needs to do is re-designate some of that parking to short-term (e.g. 15 minute) parking to allow its use for the purpose used by the vehicles in the median and then physically barricade the median so that it cannot be used for that present purpose. Until something is done, there will be interesting scenes on Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

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