Jun 27, 2023 - Business

Less parking on Ingersoll is a good thing, activists say

Ingersoll bike lane outside Qdoba

Ingersoll's protected bike lane outside Qdoba. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

A local sustainability group is trying to get officials and residents critical of the Ingersoll Avenue project to change their minds.

Why it matters: Iowa and Des Moines are car-focused communities, but the Ingersoll streetscape project aims to get people to slow down and peruse businesses along the popular shopping and dining strip by using protected bike lanes and improved landscaping.

Driving the news: During a special council meeting earlier this month, Mayor Frank Cownie — who owns Cownie Furs on Ingersoll — said the project, which is under way, has become "a real nightmare" for businesses, the Register reports.

  • Cownie and several other business owners expressed concerns that the project reduced parking along Ingersoll.

What they're saying: Concerns about parking reflect "old ways of thinking," says Alec Davis, head of Momentum DSM, a local PAC focused on improving urban environments.

  • Street designs used to focus on driving convenience, but that comes at an infrastructural cost that typically means less safety for pedestrians and cyclists, he says.
  • More parking lots, closer spaces, and driveways create more interaction points where drivers and pedestrians cross paths and possibly have accidents, Davis says.

The other side: Joe Palmer, the owner of Palmer’s Deli & Market, tells the Register he fears slower business due to the project and says it isn’t helping “accessibility” if drivers are avoiding the area out of frustration.

Between the lines: People have to park farther during peak hours along Ingersoll, but their walk would be similar to what they would have after parking in a mall's back lot or a Walmart parking lot, Davis says.

  • In return, he says, Ingersoll will be a more aesthetically pleasing and accessible for all.

What's next: Davis says he likes the idea of private businesses sharing their existing parking lots.

  • He plans on sharing his arguments with council members.
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