Parking a hassle for most students

Written by: Nick Nussen

Settling into the new semester without first settling into a parking spot is like buying a house without a driveway or finding someone else camped in your garage. Until their vehicles are nestled snugly between lines of white paint, students are as restless as the sputtering engine and the blaring horn.

Unfortunately, these car cradles are notoriously difficult to find. Think of a legion of mice prowling for the same scrap of cheese: the precious spot, the perfect and reliable deck or lot, is awarded only to the most persistent prowlers.

Senior business major Drew Williams describes the situation as “survival of the fittest.” He added that The University of Akron should allow seniority as a way of distributing parking spots.

But according to Jared D. Coleman, director of parking and transportation services, with a little common sense and foresight, students can navigate the parking lots as nimbly and deftly as fish in water.

Coleman recommends students plan ahead and allot extra time for commuting, especially during the beginning of the semester.

“It is an especially busy time for everyone — a fact that is noticeable in the unusually high demand for parking,” Coleman says. “The extra time will get you through this period, and eventually everyone will settle into their patterns for the new semester and things will get easier.”

The problem is not, as it seems, a lack of space.

According to Coleman, the university maintains nine parking decks and numerous surface parking lots, for a total of about 11,300 spaces. The problem is that everyone flocks to the lots nearest the center of campus, while those further out sometimes resemble the urban equivalent of the desert.

“Even our newest deck, the South Campus Parking Deck, consistently had spaces available throughout last fall,” Coleman said.

If students are willing to arrive and park earlier, as well as walk a bit further to class, they can avoid wasting time playing musical chairs with parking spots.

“The person that plans ahead of time to park a bit further away will find a space easily, and will get to class (or whatever else) on time,” Coleman said. “The person that drives around the busiest parking deck waiting for someone else to leave will not.”

Coleman also said, “One of the advantages of a dense urban campus is that it does not take very long to walk to your destination. Most buildings on this campus are less than a 10-minute walk from even the more peripheral parking areas.”

Senior public relations major Nikita Lero has developed a shark-like ability to stalk unsuspecting pedestrians heading for their cars, enabling her to swoop into their parking spots the moment they vacate the coveted slab of pavement.

“After four years, I have become a professional car-stalker,” she says.

Instead of “car-stalking” and making laps around the busiest lots, Coleman advocates what he calls the “hybrid strategy,” in which one is prepared to immediately resort to a backup lot if the preferred lot is full. On days and times which are particularly busy, one should head directly to the backup lot without even checking the preferred one.

Moreover, be sure to park only once during the day.

“Park once for the day if you have a tight schedule, and walk or ride the shuttle from then on,” Coleman said. “Don’t waste time trying to drive from class to class. Your vehicle is already parked, and will probably take more time to move than if you had simply left it alone.”

The Roo Express shuttle is available for those who prefer to ride instead of walk. Its routes are updated each year according to the previous year’s ridership figures, student feedback, and other data. Those with disabilities can request special routes if the standard routes do not fit their needs.

Begin planning by visiting Parking and Transportation Services at Parking Deck North 210D or online at www.uakron.edu/parking, where you can find parking maps and shuttle schedules, request permits, and access other information and resources.

Coleman sums it up by saying, “The bottom line is that, in parking as in life, a little knowledge and rational planning go a long way.”

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