Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The problem with downtown parking is perception, according to a newly released study by a pair of UB graduate students who analyzed the situation for the city.
The three-phase study, conducted between May and early September, was undertaken to settle the question whether there’s a parking shortage downtown.
The summer interns documented all available public and privately owned parking spaces, on and off-street, in the area bounded by Union, Washburn, Transit and Genesee streets; measured parking space utilization on different days and times; and solicit feedback from business owners and a temporary, city employee-staffed parking advisory committee.
Results of the study led the interns to conclude there’s plenty of parking capacity downtown to meet current demand by residents and visitors.
The downtown parking inventory consists of 1,405 usable off-street slots and up to 249 on-street slots, if certain side streets that aren’t currently striped and posted as parking spots are included.
Parking utilization was measured six times between early June and mid July: at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. on different Mondays, 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday and a Thursday, 9 p.m. on a Friday and noon on a Saturday.
On average, parking lots were only 35 percent occupied during the exam period.
Even the most-used parking lots — the city-owned lot behind the YMCA and the library, the privately lot attached to the Bewley Building, and the lot associated with the Department of Motor Vehicles/county offices at Main and Market streets — had average utilization rates of less than 67 percent, the study found.
Average utilization of on-street parking was 39 percent, the study found. The Main Street-only average was 64 percent.
If there’s a shortage of parking, apparently it’s in convenient parking, the interns concluded.
“People (prefer) to park directly next to or in front of their destination. ... We have concluded there is currently, and will not be at the current pace, a parking shortage within the City of Lockport,” the University at Buffalo study said. “The shortage is simply perceived, rather than actual.”