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Re: The NU University: a temporary experience

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  • Matt Hohmeister
    Here at FSU, like at many colleges, employee parking is in gated lots adjoining many buildings. Student parking is on the perimeter of campus. Because the
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 28, 2001
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      Here at FSU, like at many colleges, employee parking is in gated lots
      adjoining many buildings. Student parking is on the perimeter of
      campus. Because the gates close only the parking lots, students still
      make dangerous situations on campus roads--and the gates do little, as
      the arms are broken off on a regular basis.

      In one case, I had a class in a building with a windowless wall
      adjoining an employee parking lot. The classroom was frequently shaken
      by extremely loud car stereos. The second the university gated that
      parking lot, the noise went away. True, employees are generally much
      more responsible drivers than students, I still want them off the
      campus.

      Personally, I like the brutal, take-no-prisoners approach to auto
      safety--some of which FSU has taken. In one case, a traffic gate has a
      *very* large cement bumper block right next to it, at just the right
      height. A friend of mine saw a BMW get stuck (and quite damaged)
      trying to go over it, and the FSU PD wrote the driver a $100 ticket to
      add insult to injury. However, the bumper block has flakes from SUVs
      that have successfully made it over--they have since supplemented it
      with cement posts, which students frequently manually remove (talk
      about desperation!)

      Some people say the university should give up, loosen up, and give
      cars free reign. Yeah--that'll work just fine.

      If I ran FSU's parking system, I would use the ultimate
      take-no-prisoners approach: tire spikes in conjunction with gates. A
      proper gate card or remote control signal would open a gate, allowing
      the employee or maintenance staff through. It would also lower tire
      spikes into the ground. If someone decides to drive through the gate
      and break it, there will be an unpleasant surprise awaiting them. Take
      note that signs would be needed warning of this. Unfortunately, the
      university seems extremely unlikely to do this, due to some safety
      issue or another.

      Speaking of prisoners, although FSU somewhat demonstrates carfree
      living, it still is not a real model. Students without cars are
      prisoners on campus, unable to explore the city. Most students I know,
      when they got their car, put a few hundred miles on it that next
      weekend, seeing how much of the city they were missing--(surprisingly
      enough--being your stereotypical college student--when my parents gave
      me a car at age 18, the next day, I jumped on my bike and headed to
      work).

      Heck--students *with* cars are prisoners on campus too. They refuse to
      leave campus during peak parking hours--Mon-Thu 7:30am-6:00pm, Fri
      7:30am-4:30pm--lest they not be able to find a parking space when they
      get back.

      By the way, here's an interesting concept in FSU's dorm construction
      phases:

      Here's an interesting historical point about dorms and parking at FSU:

      FSU was originally Florida State College for Women--until 1947. In
      1948, the first dorm was built on the now-coed campus. This dorm,
      along with all of FSCW's original dorms, have parking scattered here
      and there--obviously added after-the-fact. All these dorms were
      between 3 and 5 floors. It was quite uncommon for a student to have a
      car (plus, I think FSCW and FSU had quite draconian restrictions on
      car ownership period).

      (A note: FSU's student parking lots that are not within a few blocks
      of a dorm are designated "NO OVERNIGHT PARKING". Sunday through
      Thursday nights between midnight and 6:30am, the lots are chained, and
      cars remaining given $20 tickets.)

      Between the 1950s and 70s, FSU underwent a growth spurt and started to
      build new dorms. A 3-story building went up across the main street
      (with a pedestrian tunnel running under the street), and a 5-building
      complex (all 8-11 floors) went up just west of the already-existing
      campus. These dorms are surrounded by acres of student parking that
      runs right up to them. The campus map reflects this.

      There's another dorm underway to be ready in 2003. The university is
      going to kill a road for the quad outside the dorm (adjoining it with
      the new student life building), and it will have no immediately
      adjacent parking. FSU's making a big deal of this. However, go a block
      south of this new dorm, and hark--acres of paved student parking lots,
      which will probably have their "NO OVERNIGHT PARKING" designations
      removed once the dorm goes up.

      --- In carfree_cities@y..., "T. J. Binkley" <tjbink@b...> wrote:
      > Matt wrote:
      >
      > >While once in a conversation about city design, i brought up the
      NU/
      > >carfree concept. Someone responded with "Life is *not* a college
      > >campus. You can't do that."
      > >
      > >University campuses (from my observations) tend
      > >to be much more NU/carfree-ready than the rest of the city they're
      in.
      > >... College is also where a lot of us get our first taste of NU.
      >
      > Many college campuses would seem convenient models for demonstrating
      some
      > of the benefits of carfree living. Trouble is, too many of the
      young
      > people there grew up as second-class citizens in suburbia most of
      their
      > lives, and now can't imagine living without their long-awaited
      > "freedom-machines".
      >
      > Cars are kept off campuses because their noise and danger would be
      too
      > disruptive to the flow of pedestrians between buildings; they might
      also
      > interfere with and distract from activities going on inside those
      > buildings. The enormous space requirements of cars, would unfairly
      > penalize pedestrians and other non-motorists by forcing everything
      to be
      > spread out to make room for roads and parking. Drive-by crime and
      > "get-away" cars are also concerns at some schools. So, to address
      all
      > these issues, parking is relegated to the perimeter; some areas have
      manned
      > gates to limit car access; and many areas are completely
      > carfree. Hmmm...maybe similar arrangements would make sense for
      > pedestrian-rich neighborhoods in CITIES?!
      >
      > College campuses are not cities, to be sure. They are places where
      the
      > need to protect a certain area of the city from the multiple
      disruptions
      > and annoyances of automobiles is obvious to many people. They might
      be
      > considered as an "attraction", that in the minds of the mindless
      masses, is
      > worth the effort of negotiating on foot---as with amusement parks,
      the
      > county fair, or a large flea market. Perhaps some areas of some
      cities
      > will one day be thought of this way.
      >
      > Now, about creating that "attraction"...
      >
      > -T.J.
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