Restricting parking permits considered unnecessary hurdle

The dialogue about parking changes at NAU continues in Inside NAU this week, with new questions submitted about restricting parking permits, campus delivery drivers and bike racks.

Read a compilation of all the parking questions and answers submitted through Inside NAU.

QUESTION: Thank you for answering the question, “In order to reduce parking and traffic on campus, is the university looking at options such as restricting freshmen and residents who live within ‘walking distance’ from school from registering their vehicles with parking permits?”

Would you please now answer the question “WHY are such options (restricting cars belonging to freshmen and local-area residence) not being considered?” Obviously exceptions need to be made (working off campus at a distance, working off campus late at night, etc). But I was bothered that the original question was only answered in the letter, not in the spirit, so I’d appreciate a more full answer.

ANSWER: The notion of “reducing” parking and traffic on campus is not a mandate from the university. Rather, it is an idea promoted by letter writers who are reacting to the closing of parking lot 1. The number of parking spaces available will not change significantly when all construction projects are completed.

NAU feels it is an individual decision to decide how to get to class or work, and restricting cars to second-year students and to students who live beyond “walking distance” is considered an unnecessary hurdle for incoming students and would place the university at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting and retaining students.

“Walking distance” is a debatable concept, especially in rough weather, and it would be impractical to monitor and control the students who wish to drive, especially with the number of valid exceptions.

For a few months after P1 closes, while the parking garage near Ardrey Auditorium is being completed, some parking around north campus may be difficult. The university is reducing area parking—flat surfaces that take up 65 acres of land—and pursuing parking garages to emphasize the beauty of the Flagstaff campus. Ultimately, however, the same number of parking spaces will be available.

NAU wants to make students, staff and faculty aware of its plans about on-campus driving and parking conditions so that they can make informed choices about driving.

Q: Some of us have to use our own cars to go to buildings and bring supplies to work, will it be another hardship for us?

A: It depends on your definition of “hardship.” The loss of P1 and subsequent changes will mean some employees who had the ability to park next to their building will park farther away. NAU Administration and Finance has been with working with some departments—Admissions, Human Resources and Financial Aid, for example—that will either purchase or lease state vehicles, possibly golf carts, which will be parked in reserved parking next to their buildings for employee campus use.

NAU also will institute a pilot “taxi” program in August that will run through the fall semester. Staff or faculty members who have state business in another part of campus can call a Parking Services dispatcher, who will send a van to give them a ride to and from the meeting. The dispatcher will need a 20-minute notice, and anyone using the service should plan accordingly—no one wants to be late for a meeting if the van is stuck in traffic. If the program is successful, it will be extended.

Q: Perhaps employees and students would be more willing to ride bicycles around campus if there were sufficient number of bike racks and/or bike lockers. Many employees bring their bikes into their office or building rather than subject them to the elements and the risk of vandalism or theft. This is neither permitted nor practical in some buildings and offices on campus. In summer, there are many open bicycle racks, however, when students return in the fall, it is difficult to find a place to park a bike. Encouraging use of bicycles is only going to succeed if the university participates by providing a place to park. Cars or bikes, they all have to park somewhere.

A: Parking Services has plenty of bike racks to go around. Call them at (928) 523-6623 if you need more at your building. Bike lockers, often found at universities and businesses with showers for riders, are expensive and not part of NAU’s current budget plans.