Take off your parking brakes! Thirty days from now, new parking restrictions will take effect on a number of Brunswick streets, including Columbia Avenue, Belmont Street, Longfellow Avenue, Noble Street, Pine Street and Union Street.
The restrictions, passed by the Brunswick Town Council at its November 18 meeting, are not unprecedented—the Council placed similar restrictions, specifically aimed at Bowdoin students, on Park Row in 2014, and the College revoked student parking privileges to the lots at the Maine Street College Houses the same year.
In light of this move, which forces more students to park in the rather distant Farley/Watson lot, we’re forced to consider what parking rights and privileges students should have. Maybe far away parking isn’t so bad?
Our campus is a relatively compact 207 acres. For comparison, Middlebury’s campus is 350 acres, and Wesleyan’s campus is 360 acres. Bowdoin is easily walkable for many students, and its location near a densely populated town center makes it unlikely that the College will expand student parking anytime soon.
But this is understandable; there are 200 more student parking spaces on campus than registered cars, even though most of these spots are located near Farley Field House. And as Randy Nichols, executive director of Safety and Security, has said, few are in favor of a campus filled with parking lots.
Of course, we acknowledge that cars on campus provide mobility that can be extremely valuable in our relatively small college town. For some, they are a necessity, whether they allow students to attend medical appointments, drive to a job or frequently travel to see family.
But the College does support this; Bowdoin students are guaranteed a spot somewhere on campus, even if its location is somewhat inconvenient. The price of a parking permit is relatively low as well: $50 for the year compared to Colby’s $100 and Bates’ $120. Our parking spaces should not come at the expense of Brunswick residents.
Beyond being good neighbors, these changes, though inconvenient for some, have beneficial impacts on the campus’ car-related culture.
An eight-minute walk adds little time to the 35-minute trip to Portland but comparatively adds significant travel time to your two-minute drive to Hannaford. The distance to the Farley/Watson lot disincentivizes students from driving short trips that are typically walkable or bikeable.
Minimizing unnecessary driving and encouraging carpooling, walking and biking is in the interest not only of campus infrastructure and neighborly behavior but also sustainability. On a campus highly concerned with its carbon footprint, the Council’s ordinance enables the College to incentivize alternative forms of transportation.
So, no, faraway parking isn’t such a bad thing.
This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is composed of Emily Cohen, Brianna Cunliffe, Roither Gonzales, Alyce McFadden, Nina McKay, Danielle Quezada, Reuben Schafir and Jaret Skonieczny.