College: Parking more efficient land use than bike facility

Texas community college with free parking would replace new velodrome with parking garage.

The Superdrome in Frisco, Texas built twelve years ago is a 100,000 square foot, $15 million 250 meter outdoor wood bicycle racing track. It’s a valued asset to the local cycling community with variety of events, including world-class competitions and weekly racing series. Teams from around the world use the Superdrome for training, and the facility is quickly becoming one of the nation’s primary sites for research on cycling and aerobic acitivity. The general public is also welcome to use the facility for training and for corporate events and meetings.

And the local community college wants to tear it down and replace it with a parking garage.

The Superdrome lies in a sprawling far northern suburb of Dallas, TX on property owned by Collin College, the community college serving Collin and Rockwall counties. Enrollment at the Preston Ridge campus in Frisco has been growing, and campus administrators say more parking is needed to accommodate the student growth. Preston Ridge Provost Toni Jenkins says parking is a more efficient use of this land than a bike facility.

As you can see on the campus image below, parking already dominates the Preston Ridge campus in Frisco. The Superdrome is the little oval to the east.

Collin College Preston Ridge Frisco campus map

Collin College charges nothing for student and staff parking, and wants the city of Frisco to pay for parking if the city rejects the plan to tear down the Superdrome.

Most opposition to any new parking garage seems to come from residents near the college. To overcome this neighborhood opposition, the college proposed this Superdrome demolition as an alternative.

When it comes to solutions to their parking dilemma, college administrators seem to demonstrate an astonishing lack of imagination in their parking options, most of which revolve around the idea of “build more.” If I can present some ideas for Provost Toni Jenkins:

  • If you’re concerned about efficient land use, how efficient is all of that free car storage space that’s not even generating tax revenue? At least charge for that real estate. You have a parking problem because you provide a valuable asset (real estate) that costs nothing in exchange. Fight the entitlement mentality of your freeloading students, staff, faculty and administrators and charge market rates!
  • Collin County has a rudimentary, privately run public transit system. This limits your students’ transportation choices. Many local colleges with similar parking problems work with the local transit provider and even provide funding to get students to class. Give transit passes to staff and faculty as a benefit, and improve local transit at the same time. Win for the college, win for local transit, win for your students, and win for local residents.
  • Encourage students and staff to bike to work. I know it’s hot in Texas, but I managed to bike to college and work when I lived there.
  • For specific examples of how colleges work with the community to solve parking issues, see this page on trip reduction programs for college campuses.
  • Read Donald Shoup’s book The High Cost of Free Parkingfor real world examples of how to improve your parking situation. If you contact me I’ll even send you a free copy.
  • For even more ideas, search the Interwebs for “Transportation Demand Management.”

I attended a small university in Texas, and back then I was dumbfounded by the number of students who drove literally half a mile from the dorm parking lot to a nearby shopping mall.

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5 Comments

  • Gonewest
    January 19, 2011 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I suspect Jenkins knows exactly what she’s doing. If the velodrome was built only 12 years ago with $15 million in taxpayer money, then she knows it would be a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money to tear it down. Not to mention the (possibly small, but real) economic benefit to the community from tourism. So her proposal will get the city to acknowledge the velodrome should be left alone, and she;ll get the additional $4 million she needs to build a parking structure elsewhere.

  • January 19, 2011 - 10:11 pm | Permalink

    I think you’re right — propose something outlandishly ludicrous so that Plan B doesn’t seem quite so horrible or expensive.

  • Bo-be-wan-kan-o-be
    January 19, 2011 - 10:45 pm | Permalink

    It looks like the academic buildings are being hemmed in by parking anyway, so in a couple of years, they’ll be done for adding academic programs, students and……parking. This is the product of a community college administrator.

  • Anonymous
    January 20, 2011 - 12:52 am | Permalink

    Parking is not a problem at colleges when the North Texas heat is at its worst since few students are in school then.

    Also per “Many local colleges with similar parking problems work with the local transit provider and even provide funding to get students to class.” That’s even true in Texas! Texas Tech students ride the Lubbock busses for free.

    I do like the “ridiculous proposal” theory, but what does she do if they don’t take the bait?

  • jim
    January 10, 2012 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Free parking? Shhhhhh, Rick Perry might hear

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