Updated: 56 seconds ago Published: 44 minutes ago
As a professional engineer who spent 45 years in the Alaskan transportation industry, I see the Assembly’s new parking ordinance as a major step backwards in the orderly development of Anchorage. Alaska already has the worst economy of any state in the union. We have lost residents at an alarming rate. Companies are failing because they can’t get employees to work for them. Our children suffered from the Anchorage School District’s inability to staff school buses. We are closing schools. Wasilla is thriving because people would rather live there and travel to Anchorage than live here. And this ordinance doesn’t make Anchorage a more attractive place to move to.
Forcing people who are in love with personal freedom and their own car for the freedom of movement to give up that freedom to be a bus passenger, an Uber passenger, or a cyclist is not the way to attract new people. for them to move here. Add “No Employee Parking Provided or Available” to your recruiting newsletter and see how that improves your ability to attract new employees.
It is naive to think that the new parking ordinance will drastically alter Americans’ love for their cars. The model city they envision with alternatives to automobiles as the primary mode of transportation only works when the population density is 100 times that of Anchorage and can sustain public transportation and other modes of transportation at an affordable price. The minuscule increase in density from the new ordinance will not create the number of passengers needed to create an affordable alternative to the personal car. Portland is often used as a comparison of where this model has “succeeded”. The population of the Portland area is 2.2 million.
The ordinance also does not recognize several factors, such as the fact that the models they are copying are not in the country of snow. We can barely keep our roads clean, and bike paths and sidewalks are already useless in Anchorage winters. The highest rate of population growth in Alaska is among the elderly. Does the Assembly think that the elderly will give up their cars and adopt bicycles or long walks of several blocks on snow-covered sidewalks to bus stops in the freezing cold? Anchorage already has one of the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities per capita in the nation.
While increasing handicap parking is nice, as a professional engineer with decades of experience in the transportation business, I see that this hurts Anchorage in a way that cannot be undone once it is implemented. Try it and find that it doesn’t work, and then it can’t be reversed and fixed. This is the thinking that is causing our economic and demographic decline.
jerome george, PE, is a retired engineer. He lives in Anchorage.
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