Parking in a University Town
By Steven Bergin, CAPP
We are a few weeks into the new school year and have been busy servicing students with permits and addressing their citations. I’ve been wondering, do any municipalities with an urban university work with students directly to provide them with tips on city parking?
I don’t have the numbers, but a large portion of the tickets written in the City of Richmond are issued to students, and a large portion of the permits sold in the residential restricted parking districts are sold to students renting in those districts.
Several years ago, I was contacted by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), our urban university, to answer questions and provide advice about on-street parking for their students. I believe my answers were incorporated into their student orientation in the form of a flier. Given the number of tickets students receive, I felt like this initiative was smartly progressive on VCU’s part. There is only so much parking an urban university can and should supply when walking, biking, and transit on campus are viable alternatives if students choose to leave their cars at home. One of my best friends has two children attending VCU, one just graduating, and they did not have a vehicle the entire time they attended.
The advice I provided VCU was personal — I was a VCU student 35 years ago and had the same struggles as current students! I received a few parking tickets and was towed once or twice (okay, multiple times). But I learned fast not to park on certain streets on certain days (street cleaning), avoid prohibited zones, and that when looking for apartments, I should think about proximity, transit, biking, and parking. I did not use my car if I didn’t have to; I brought my bike from home and walked daily from one side of campus to the other.
My tips were more extensive and specific to on-street parking around the university. I am not sure if they still include parking information in their orientation, but I believe that urban universities should educate their students about their parking policies and their locality’s on-street parking operations.
Despite what people believe, we don’t enjoy giving students so many tickets.