Opinion

No on parking rule | Editorial

The new ordinance being considered by the City Council to restrict parking along the Mercer Ways was proposed in the name of safety. The city spent thousands of dollars paving seven miles of East Mercer Way, North Mercer Way and West Mercer Way. Why? To improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Now they want to limit the use of that extra roadway to ensure that it is used for traveling and not for parking.

Ordinance sponsors say that cars parked along the shoulders divert pedestrians and cyclists onto the roadway and into traffic. Limiting parking, they reason, would limit the obstacles that now block shoulders.

Everyone knows how dangerous it can be along those roads. The sight distance is limited, the roadway is winding and narrow. Those who use the roads are often not at their best. Drivers are impatient. Cyclists are entitled. Pedestrians, careless. Each seems to be operating in a separate universe. According to data from the city, there have been nearly 250 accidents of all kinds on the roadways since 2007 — from fender-benders to serious injury events.

It is nothing short of a miracle that no one has been killed. Nearly hit by a passing car, perhaps; frightened within an inch of their lives, maybe; but not dead, not yet.

But will this new ordinance help? A wider roadway would be ideal. But even with the new ordinance, it would not be. An occasional contractor’s van or visitor’s car would still block the wider shoulders, and cause those who use the shoulders to go around back into traffic.

The responsibility for safety is incumbent upon its users, not the roadway.

The added inconvenience to the nearly 1,200 homeowners who live along or near the Mercer Ways should not be discounted. Neither should the time, energy and money that would be required to enforce such an ordinance. It is likely that Island police officers and already overloaded court personnel have more important things to do than to enforce parking, cope with exceptions and hassle over tickets.

 

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