Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Downtown Parking Survey

28. November 2005 • Juliew
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From the Ann Arbor District Library Director’s Blog:

The Main Street Area Association is sponsoring a parking survey to find out how YOU feel about parking in the downtown. The survey will be active Friday, November 18 until December 10.

In addition to survey forms and boxes placed in downtown businesses, including the lobby of the Downtown Library, an online survey will be available at the Chamber of Commerce website.

The survey is short and to the point. Responses will help us all understand how our community currently perceives downtown parking.

I haven’t seen many of the forms and boxes downtown and I can’t find the survey linked off of either the Chamber site or the Main Street Area Association site. Thanks to the Library for posting this information!

  1. I took the survey (online) and was surprised at the simplicity of it. Among other things that they didn’t ask was whether I was a man or a woman, whether I take the bus/bike/walk/park and ride, or what time of day I come downtown. I don’t know how the answers can be of much value without at least that last one.

    Unfortunately, it’s not possible to review the questions after completing it (unless you clear your cookies, maybe, or use a different computer), so pay attention as you go through.
       —Steve Bean    Nov. 28 '05 - 06:47PM    #
  2. I was also rather surprised by the fact that it didn’t offer alternatives to driving as options… these variables would seem to be important for polling behavior and determining the actual use of the downtown area, no? (I actually had to offer up the information, unprompted, that I invariably walk downtown). I was taken aback by the lack of demographic data requested, as well. Who was responsible for writing this survey, anyway?
       —Heidi    Nov. 29 '05 - 12:57AM    #
  3. I noticed that they just assumed that everyone was driving downtown too, although I’m not sure how useful it would be to ask about other methods of transportation; it seems like that would be one of the questions most skewed by the self-selected sample, given the often political nature of the driving-vs.-biking debate.
       —ann arbor is overrated    Nov. 29 '05 - 01:05AM    #
  4. Seems like whoever did this survey just came up with a bunch of questions they wanted to ask, rather than think about what they would do with the answers. I agree that there are a lot of assumptions about parking downtown and it would be nice to actually have data. This questionnaire isn’t going to get there though. The comments here and on the Library blog are probably more useful than the numbers they get from the survey.
       —Juliew    Nov. 29 '05 - 04:11PM    #
  5. Just to clarify: the survey is from the Main Street Area Association. The Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce is a business advocacy group and has many members in the Main Street area. We are helping to get the word out about the survey, but the link is not on the Chamber web site. To view the survey questions, here is the Zoomerang link:
    If you have already taken the survey, the link will take you to the end of the survey as it is a single user per computer survey product.

    Meredith Lovelace, Marketing Director
    Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce
       —Meredith Lovelace    Nov. 29 '05 - 04:54PM    #
  6. Regarding the parking survey. The intent is to learn about the parking habits of people who do drive and do park downtown. It is not intended to survey the transportation habits of all people who visit downtown. There are other sources that track that information.

       —CJ    Nov. 29 '05 - 06:07PM    #
  7. What CJ said – I don’t think the survey is nearly as bad as it’s being flamed for in the above comments. They’re not trying to measure overall downtown usage, they’re trying to ask some questions about parking. If you walk/bike/bus downtown, well then, you’re not using parking, so your opinions on how you use parking are “n/a”.

    I don’t think the survey’s perfect, but I think there’s a difference between what they want to get out of it and what comments 1-4 want them to want to get out of it, and it serves their wants better than ours.
       —Murph.    Nov. 29 '05 - 10:40PM    #
  8. For me it is less of a flame than a frustration. I know we need more data about parking in the downtown area, because we as a city are spending millions on it, but it seems like it is all based on hearsay and assumptions. If any group has information on how many people park in the parking structures, what structures they use, who those people are, when they park (to the hour, not the month), and so on, it would be great to see. It is astonishing to me that with all the money spent over the last few decades on parking, there really doesn’t seem to be much information. I also would like to know why people don’t park downtown and what alternatives people use. I also think there are many people who use multiple methods of transportation depending on what they are doing. I think that is really valuable information to include in a “parking” survey. I know the DDA is working on collecting some of the information, but I’m not sure why the Main Street Area Association is doing this questionnaire. They don’t have anything on their web site and there hasn’t been much promotion for it. What information are they trying to collect? I would be far less critical if there were more explanation. If they are only focusing on people who have already parked and are walking into stores on Main Street, they are missing a potential group of patrons (all of those people who did not park for whatever reason). On the other hand, I did post the survey here because I think the more people who weigh in, the better the results.
       —Juliew    Nov. 29 '05 - 11:57PM    #
  9. Yeah, I hear ya on the frustration with lack of data. I do know that the DDA/Republic is replacing the current hardware in the lots/structures, which can count the number of times the gates go up and down, and not much more, with hardware than can track, say, how many vehicles are in the facility at any given minute. The changeover is a few facilities per year, to space out the cost, I think, but the new hardware apparently produces more data than Republic knows what to do with. Which means that at some point there will be the ability to make an graph over utilization over time accurate to the second – assuming there’s staff time available to dig into it and make any useful conclusions.
       —Murph.    Nov. 30 '05 - 03:57AM    #
  10. Honestly, I was more disappointed with the survey technique than anything. If you have an audience participating in a poll, I think that it’s vital to provide them with a full range of responses. And you DEFINITELY try to get as much information about the people answering your questions as possible. It’s just following the basic rules of social research and being responsible to both your subjects and the eventual audience of your results.
       —Heidi    Nov. 30 '05 - 05:59AM    #
  11. Whatta crap survey. I don’t park in structures because I can’t afford to take 80¢ an hour off of my wages. I don’t like to take the bus because if I’m in the office, it’s often at non-traditional times when the busses don’t run. During the summer, I ride my bike. Durin the winter, well, I just don’t go into the office as much…
       —js    Dec. 1 '05 - 01:26PM    #
  12. Hm..I think if they’d spent a little time and money investing in speaking to one of the many evaluators/survey researchers/market researchers in this area, it might have yielded them a survey that was really useful instead of marginally useful. Surveys are one of those things that everyone thinks are so simple to create and administer. And they are…if you don’t mind results that tell you 1/10 of what they could have.
       —ds    Dec. 1 '05 - 05:44PM    #
  13. Fuck, DS, a couple years trying to get a Reader’s Survey done at Current has taught me that. (Between arguing over phrasing to not being able to ask certain questions because then we’d have data on how ineffective parts of the magazine were or because advertisers might want to know demographic info that we routinely misrepresent, survey writing was ALWAYS fun).
       —js    Dec. 2 '05 - 06:41AM    #