Parking Problem

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Institutions can usually serve their missions far better by not adding more parking, and by discouraging the use of cars on the campus. The overall deterioration of the college environment can largely be traced to the automobile. In a vicious cycle, dependence on driving and the availability of parking cause campus facilities to be dispersed beyond reasonable walking distances. As a result, the need for more roads and more parking continually escalates. Each parking space and associated access roads pave over about 300 square feet on a campus -- and when institutions run out of room for surface parking, they build garages. Automobiles increase health and safety risks. We estimate that student injuries or deaths caused by automobiles on campuses have occurred at as many as 20 percent of all colleges. In addition, a dependence on cars promulgates a sedentary lifestyle -- a primary factor in more than 25 percent of all deaths from chronic disease in this country. And, of course, cars pollute the air and damage the environment; they are the single largest contributor to global carbon-dioxide emissions. Even if people aren't in immediate danger, the current orientation toward driving everywhere discourages a sense of community on campuses. Large parking lots are generally not places to linger and talk. The automobile can also drive a wedge between an institution and its neighborhood. In many nearby communities, a college can be the largest traffic generator. What's more, some institutions have bought up land in surrounding areas and torn down houses to create surface parking. Such barren parking lots can destroy the character of neighborhoods and perhaps even cause them to decline. Ultimately, that hurts the college itself: Being surrounded by traffic and parking lots, perhaps in a declining neighborhood, does little to enhance its image. Higher education's reliance on the automobile has direct financial costs as well. On most campuses, parking is free or so heavily...
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