Friday, May 16, 2014

Transportation Tuesday: Nitschmann Middle School Parking

Last week, the Morning Call had an interesting opinion piece from the forever hard-nosed Paul Carpenter about a parking situation developing over at Nitschmann Middle School.  Apparently, the School District is doing some renovations at the school that will require that part of the existing parking lot is torn up and made unusable for parking.

The current solution to the problem will be to open up areas of the Bethlehem Rose garden for parking.  In the process several large trees will be removed and teacher's cars will be parked in the garden.  Carpenter, channeling his inner Joni Mitchell, disapproves of the idea.

Initially I though that Mr. Carpenter was (as he is sometimes prone to do) overreacting, but the thing just stuck in my craw.  Then, I realized why.  Tearing up a beautiful (and well used) rose garden to accommodate parking is just one more concession that our cities are asked to make in favor of the car.  When are we going to stop and say to ourselves, hey, we are serious when we say that our community should be walkable.  We are serious that walking, biking, and shared transportation should be the first things that come to mind when we are confronted by a transportation problem.

Martin Tower (and its large surface parking lots) is less than half a mile from the middle school.  What is the harm in asking the teachers to walk (or if the school district wants to---run a shuttle).  I walk a mile or so a day to get to and from my home to work.  It keeps be slim.  My grandmother walked everyday from 9th and Tilhman to 7th and Hamilton to get to her job.  And, I bet a lot of the middle school kids have to walk even further to get to school.  Why is it that once you become a teacher you shouldn't have to walk a mile in the kids' shoes.  These are the people setting the example for how we ought to be living in our communities and that example ought to include walking for the sake of the community and health.
I know that this seems like a small thing, but every single time our cities are asked to chose between walking or a car they are pressured into accommodating the car.  Its time to stop it.  And its time to say publicly---that's it, the era of the car-centric city, is at an end.  We are serious about sacrificing a bit of car comfort to make our city more beautiful, more walkable, and healthier.  I hope that city council takes action against the destruction of the rose garden and clearly says why the car in no longer king in Bethlehem.

1 comment:

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