Hey Indianapolis! I’ve been away from the keyboard for a while, but I’ve been busy studying cities at Ball State’s Indianapolis Center. The one thing I noticed in my studies was how much parking lots we have in our cities, so I’m going to bring you a few posts that focus on them and what we can do to minimize their impact. Let’s start off with a competition of sorts – What is Indianapolis’ worst parking lot?
Recently, Indianapolis finally gave up big plans to redevelop the old Market Square Arena site. This was my hands down favorite for worst parking lot (WPL). For a decade, citizens endured an enormous gravel parking lot adjacent to the densest urban neighborhood in the state. In its place, we now have a paved lot (hooray?).
So, we bid farewell to our old gravel lot, which clearly held the top spot as worst parking lot in the city. Not only for being gravel, but for occupying a valuable space in the city and destroying the connection of downtown to the near eastside.
We have a few contenders that I want to nominate for consideration (and please feel free to add your own in the comments).
WPL Candidate #1: Under the freeway
If you have ever driven under I-65 along the north side of downtown, you have probably noticed that this space is used as a parking lot. It’s a subtle reminder that freeways kill urban land use. It’s dark, depressing, and without value.
WPL Candidate #2: The Zoo Lot
The environmental costs of building a society dependent on automobiles are often hidden, but the Indy Zoo shows how our priorities affect the world around us. We have marginalized nature, even in the places where we seek to celebrate it. The Zoo fights hard to create special places for the animals, but its difficult when they need so much space for visitors to park.
WPL Candidate #3: The Market Square Arena
The previous title holder isn’t giving up that easy. It wants you to know it is still here, and still taking up valuable space in downtown Indy. Is this really what we want fronting our Cultural Trail?
WPL Candidate #4: The Northwest Side (aggregate lot)
Sometimes it seems like this part of the city is nothing but parking lots. We’ll just lump them all together, because the effect of that much paved surface is 1 big dead spot. The sad part is that this is adjacent to the only rail transit we have in the city (people mover), and also within walking distance of the canal, the central mall, downtown, and the cultural trail.
Is it parking lots like these that are truly responsible for urban design crimes like DeRimini?
WPL Candidate #5: IUPUI Campus (aggregate lot)
IUPUI has a land use other than parking lots somewhere (because the parking lots are always full), but I think the proportion of parking lot to academic space makes for a very non-urban place. It is also lacking that “integrated campus” feel, because the only thing continuous throughout is the paving. This place has a history of being a commuter campus, but what’s so wrong with buses, bikes, and walking as a school transportation policy?