Our parents teach us the best lessons.
The Saturday prior to Halloween we had some friends and family over to our home for a Halloween Crab Feast. Hey! We are from Maryland and that is how we roll!
Since we live downtown, when people come to visit they are relegated to parking on the street. Sometimes it is challenging to find a space, but for the most part it is not that bad. My parents were on the guest list that day. They spend half of their time at their condo in Mt. Pleasant and the other half at their home in Maryland.
My parents have what I call ‘parking anxiety.’ The thought of having to circle city blocks in search of parking is a bit frightening to them. Any time they are planning to come to our house for a function there is always a text or a call prior in hopes of parking intel. It is very cute. Sorry mom!
This day was different.
For our Halloween Crab Feast my parents did something extraordinary. Parking anxiety would not get them on this day. They said enough is enough.
The first thing they did was they offered a ride to another friend who was coming to our feast. This is what some folks refer to as carpooling. You determine if multiple people are going to the same place and you ride in the same car. It is genius.
Well it didn’t stop there.
My parents drove their vehicle to the base of the Ravenel bridge and parked in one of the shopping center parking lots. From their they hailed an Uber using their smartphone. The Uber diver picked them up and were dropped off at our front door. Now that's convenient!
I have to confess that at first I thought this plan was a bit silly. It seemed unnecessary. I mean, the parking situation in our neighborhood is not that bad.
In hindsight their actions were genius. They determined that the best way to deal with the parking challenge was to avoid it all together. Avoid it.
I think there is an underlying message there. When a situation gets to a certain level, people are forced to be proactive. They have to take matters into their own hands. They adapt. When my parents come to visit they first think about the best way to get from point A to point B. On this particular day they created their own park-and-ride system. Genius!
(Great Weather + Great Grub + Beautiful City) = More Tourists + More Transplants + More Cars
In the near decade since Danielle and I have lived in Charleston, we have witnessed the region change a ton. The secret of Charleston’s awesomeness has been shared. More people vacation in Charleston than ever and the population is growing at a steady pace. The population and tourism growth has resulted in increased traffic and parking challenges.
Some have called it the “price for our success.”
Others call it a “double-edge sword.”
Folks worry that we will “kill the goose that laid the golden eggs.”
You get my drift.
You don’t have to be a traffic engineer to realize that the traffic and parking challenges will continue with the growth. And there is no sign that growth will slow. So what do we do?
Threaten to move to Canada?
Blame the tourists? The State of Ohio? The hotels? The Cruise Ships?
Blame the Cyclists for clogging our downtown streets? And how about the Skateboarders? The Hoverboarders and those dang Horse carriages?
How about we blame real-estate developers? Apartment Buildings? Gathering Place Zoning? Buildings over 35’? The Sergeant Jasper?
And how about the Low-Country Culinary Scene? Aren’t they the real culprits? Shouldn’t we blame Sean Brock, John Lewis and Martha Lou for cooking up such delectable grub?
Or, we become proactive. We ask how can we avoid traffic. How can we avoid parking. Instead of waiting on our public officials to build more asphalt maybe we can determine how we can lower the amount of single occupancy car trips we make.
Could you carpool to work?
Could you Uber to that restaurant?
Is there a bus route for your trip?
Is there a park and ride option?
Could you batch all of your weekly errands to one day?
Help Is On The Way
CARTA will improve the existing bus system. The potential for a new Bus Rapid Transit system is also being studied. Uber and Lyft will continue to add drivers. Self driving vehicles our on the way. More automobile lanes will be built and eventually 526 will be completed.
But those things will take time.
If you are looking for a more immediate fix then you will need to look inward. Be proactive about your transportation choices. Ask yourself how you can avoid contributing to traffic.
Be like my parents.
More on Charleston's Growing Pains: