Lansing offering free 2-hour parking downtown this summer
Free parking is coming downtown this summer.
Starting June 3, the city will offer two hours of free time on Fridays for on-street metered parking in downtown Lansing and in Old Town.
“Summer is a great time to encourage people to get downtown or to Old Town and visit some of our great local restaurants and shops,” Mayor Andy Schor said in a press release. “By offering free, on-street metered parking every Friday, we hope to encourage residents and visitors to shop and eat local.”
The free parking — like the program that took place for the month of December 2021 — will continue through Sept. 2. Maximum time limits in parking zones and safety violations will continue to be enforced.
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Officials said the decision provides a way for the city to support downtown businesses while officials work toward long-term solutions for parking in the city.
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“We were thinking, ‘What can we do to support downtown businesses this summer?'” Director of Planning and Economic Development Brian McGrain said. “Can we play around the edges and do some stuff to attract people downtown, but still realize that parking is a valued asset and we can’t fully give it away for free?”
Downtown business owners have long asked the city to consider free parking, and many enthusiastically supported a similar free parking program in December.
“That was wonderful,” Peanut Shop owner Adam Seyburn said of the December program, which allowed people to park downtown free for two hours for the entire month. “If that was the long-term plan…?”
Downtown Lansing Inc. has been working with the city and business owners to improve parking.
“This also allows more people to lift up our local businesses every Friday through the summer,” said Cathleen Edgerly, executive director of Downtown Lansing Inc., in a press release.
Time limits are still important to enforce so people don’t stay in front of a business all day and prevent customers from parking, Schor said.
“Friday seems to be a lighter day, so, certainly, we want cars to rotate through,” he said. “It’s worth trying out.”
There are challenges that come with enforcing time limits without charging for parking, though, Schor said.
“How do you pay someone to enforce the time limit when you’re not getting any money from parking?” he said. “The only way to do it would be ticketing people, and we don’t want to be ticketing people.”
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The city will be working to find a balance by experimenting with free parking this summer and by conducting a parking study later this year.
“It goes back to…a holistic look at parking,” City Communications Director Scott Bean said. “How it works. How people are parking. That will be huge.”
People parking downtown should look at the signage near where they park to determine the area’s maximum allowed time. For most spaces along Washington Square, the time limit is two hours, but some locations allow for a longer time period.
To learn more about parking in Lansing, visit lansingmi.gov/parking.
Contact reporter Elena Durnbaugh at (517) 231-9501 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ElenaDurnbaugh.