I have a few thoughts to share [on downtown parking]. First of all, building another parking garage downtown is not necessary or even desirable for either the residents of Asheville or our visitors—especially the proposed parking garage [that would] remove two of Asheville’s irreplaceable jewels, namely Heiwa and Downtown Books. Also, widening Merrimon Avenue and other major avenues is not necessary either. Endlessly widening roads and building more parking garages is old-paradigm, individual-transportation-addicted thinking that we need to let go of.
If Asheville wants to continue to grow in the direction of being a green, progressive, community-minded city, we need to take another direction here and now. We are quite literally at a crossroad. And the new direction needs to involve a shared acceptance and use of public transportation, which needs to be greatly expanded in order to accommodate our citizens and visitors.
This model, of course, is already widely in use all over the United States and the world, from large cities like New York and Chicago to small cities like Boulder, Colo.—which has used clean-burning natural gas to power all public transportation since the ‘80s, as well as [providing] extensive bicycle trails to safely accommodate nonpolluting transportation. All of these transportation systems run on a frequent cycle, late into the night and on the weekends, which makes [it] possible to live without a vehicle or [with only] occasional vehicle use.
Imagine how many buildings would have to be demolished in order to accommodate all of the residents of Manhattan and their personal vehicles!
We don’t need to rip up downtown or invite more fuel-addicted people into our city to makes things work better for everyone. We simply need to reframe our mindset and embrace a healthier lifestyle (for ourselves and future Ashevilleans.)