This summer, Main Street Lincoln Park completed the second of two parking studies in the Craft District with the help of the City of Duluth. We are excited to present the findings and compare these with the study from February. (You can read about the February study here.) This summer study was completed to compare with the winter study, because the area is much more active in summer.
These parking studies are being conducted in preparation for the reconstruction of W Superior St. With the growth of new businesses and housing in the Craft District, the demand for and concerns about parking have increased over the years.
This series of studies was conducted to see if more parking really is needed in the Lincoln Park Craft District. Adding additional parking can be convenient for drivers, but it is costly, and takes up space that could be used for walking, biking, park benches, or greenery. This study will help the City decide whether to prioritize parking or other infrastructure in the W Superior St redesign.
The summer parking study was completed on Wednesday, June 21, and Saturday, July 8. By counting on a Wednesday and a Saturday, we can compare typical weekday traffic with weekend traffic, when the district tends to be busier. There was also a recount completed on Wednesday July 22, at noon, because there was a miscount on June 21. The data was found to be similar on those two days.
The study we are conducting is called a parking occupancy survey, which only counts the number of cars. It does not record data such as how long people stay, violation rates, or number of unique vehicles visiting the neighborhood. Cars parked on the street and in parking lots were counted every three hours from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm. This was done along W Superior St, First St, Michigan St and all the avenues from W Michigan St to Carlton St, which is the length of the reconstruction project. Volunteers came out during the district’s busiest times on both days at 12:00 pm, 3:00 pm, and 6:00 pm to receive a quick training, count cars, and report back with their numbers. The rest of the times were counted by Main Street Lincoln Park and the City of Duluth.
There are no publicly-owned parking lots in the neighborhood, but we included private lots that were either open to the public, customer-only, or resident-only. We didn’t count employee-only lots, except for the TBI Residential & Community Services lot (located at W Michigan St and 20th Ave) and the Kern & Kompany lot (located at 2110 W 1st St). The summer study also included two lots that were not counted in the winter study, at Wild State Cider and Madill. The Corktown Deli moved between the winter and summer studies, and built new spaces around the new location. A new restaurant, Burger Paradox, also opened on Superior Street.
Summertime is a much busier time in general for the Craft District than winter. June 22 was partly cloudy, with a high of 82* Fahrenheit. Saturday July 8 was partly cloudy with a high of 66* Fahrenheit. Despite the weather, it was very busy because of the Duluth Bike Festival and a party at Bent Paddle Brewery.
When this study was conducted, there was ongoing construction for the Highway 53 bridge, which affected 22nd Ave and parking spots that were underneath it. There was also construction at 2005 W Superior St (the old Seaway Hotel), which had closed off access to the alley from 20th Ave.
Results & Discussion
Below are videos of the maps showing the levels of parking occupancy throughout the day.
The data was categorized into three levels: no spaces occupied to half full; half full to 85% full; and over 85% full. We chose 85% as one of the limits because an area is considered “full” when 85% of spots are occupied (called the 85% rule). This is when people will notice there are still a few spots available, but it’s harder to find, and when better parking management should be in place so that it doesn’t reach 100%. In our study, some blocks have over 100% occupancy, which happened when there were cars parked illegally or in unofficial spaces.
Most of the people parking in busy areas early in the morning and late at night are probably Lincoln Park residents. These areas are around 18th Ave, the Enger Lofts lot, and the Lincoln Park Flats lot. During the day, parking is most often full nearest to businesses that are open.
Below are maps showing the times of the day with the most number of parked cars (peak time) for each day.
For Wednesday, the peak time for the whole district was during lunch time at noon, with most cars parked near the food establishments. There were no areas overparked at this time, but this was the time with the most cars parked overall. For Saturday, the peak time was 3:00 pm when people were parked near the food or drinking establishments. In both instances, less than half of the available spaces in the district were occupied. Parking is very dense near the businesses people are visiting, but there are many available spots nearby.
In the winter study, we concluded that the main issue in the Craft District is not the number of available parking spaces. Even when an area is overparked, there are nearby spaces that are unoccupied. People may be choosing to park in busy spaces for convenience, because of lack of signage.
To help people navigate the neighborhood more easily, this fall we are running a demonstration project in partnership with the City of Duluth and the Minnesota Department of Transportation. This project includes the installation of new crosswalks and wayfinding signs in the Craft District. We hope this project will make it easier for people to navigate the area. Read more about this project here. If you notice these signs around,, please let us know what you think by completing this survey. The results of this project will be used to inform the W Superior St redesign.
For more information on the W Superior St reconstruction, visit westsuperiorstreet.com.