Here in Michigan we tend to love our cars. No big surprise there. While one can successfully argue that most of our state (with some notable exceptions) is not a top-notch contender when it comes to mass transit, it would be hard to deny that it does actively promote its fleet of park and ride or carpool lots.
Currently, there are 242 carpool lots across the state containing 9,803 parking spaces overseen by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). In some areas, nearly every consecutive freeway exit has one. This should be applauded as should the level of participation.
On the other hand, most of these park and ride lots are simply a paved surface with striped lines. Very few offer any other amenities or incentives. The lot operated by the Ann Arbor Transit Authority at U.S. 23 and Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor is a notable exception.
Here are some ideas of how park and ride or carpool lots could be catapulted into the 21st century, attract more users, promote healthier lifestyles, and offer more intermodal connections. Additional suggestions are always welcome.
- Add bicycle parking racks (preferably covered) and bicycle lockers. Even if one cannot bike commute the entire distance to work, adding bike parking racks and lockers to carpool lots allows cyclists to ride part of the way and then safely secure their bicycles.
- Whenever possible, locate the park and ride lots along or near mass transit routes.
- Add EV (electric vehicle) charging stations. These lots are perfect place to re-charge your EV while carpooling.
- Provide shelters for those who are waiting for their carpool group or for mass transit. No need to get drenched when you don’t have too.
- Add some landscaping. Let’s show some community pride by making them attractive amenities instead of simply another sea of asphalt and/or stone.
- Security lighting that is also dark-sky friendly. There is no need to light up the entire interchange (or neighboring homes) when properly installed and designed lighting can accomplish the job and be environmentally friendly.
- Lease some space to car-sharing organizations like ZipCar and donate space to local, non-profit bike-sharing programs if they exist. This would produce some income for maintenance of the carpool lot and provide a greater range of intermodal services.
- Include an area for taxis to pick up and drop off people.
- Include emergency phones.