On Waterfront Park and Ensuring Access for Everyone

In our first piece on the new planned parking charge at Waterfront Park, we attempted to make the argument that:

a) a parking fee is not the same as an access fee,
b) parking does come with a cost, and
c) providing free parking incentivizes driving — a practice that is costly (both for cities and individuals), bad for our air quality, and bad for our health

As a commenter to the article pointed out, “When accessibility equates to free parking … this is a clear indicator that the public discourse is dominated by a car-centric mentality.” Agreed. 100%.

To chalk the debate up to “car-centrism,” though, only gets at part of the issue. The central argument against the parking fee at Waterfront Park hinges on access — particularly the burden a fee would place on poorer families. Yes, there is an assumption that people will be arriving by car, but given Louisville’s current dependence on the automobile, that’s probably a fair assumption. So, let’s consider the issue of ensuring access for all, while also looking for ways to lower the necessity of arriving by car.

Why Access is Important
As is well-understood at this point, Louisville is a segregated city — poor, urban, and black in the West End; rich, suburban, and white to the East. (To say nothing of the rural, poorer populations at the southern edges of the county or the overlooked, incredibly diverse, largely immigrant population of South Louisville.) Continue reading “On Waterfront Park and Ensuring Access for Everyone”