Parking Survey for Downtown Ann Arbor

The Main Street Area Association is sponsoring a parking survey to find out how YOU feel about parking in the downtown. The survey will be active Friday, November 18 until December 10.

In addition to survey forms and boxes placed in downtown businesses, including the lobby of the Downtown Library, an online survey will be available at the Chamber of Commerce website:

The survey is short and to the point. Responses will help us all understand how our community currently perceives downtown parking.

The survey does not ask specifically about parking for the library, so write it in or write it here on this blog!


Too many people are using the surface parking at the AADL for non - library business; a receipt should be given at checkout to validate proper useage of the lot.

The surface lot next to the Downtown Library is not owned or operated by the Library. The lot is owned by the City of Ann Arbor and operated by the DDA. None of the money paid to park in the lot goes to the Library.

"Too many people are using the surface parking at the AADL for non - library business."

What's your evidence? And how many is "too many"?

It appears that this survey company (Zoomerang) doesn't support web browsers other than Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Please keep the surface lot next to the library! (To DDA).
Due to concerns about tight spaces, fast careless drivers etc., I will never park in a garage or any underground structure you build. I do sometimes take the bus to get to the library, but there are times it is better to drive. Thanks for asking.

"It appears that this survey company (Zoomerang) doesn't support web browsers other than Microsoft Internet Explorer."

I had no trouble with Firefox 1.0.7 on Linux. (My only complaint is that the survey questions make no sense for anyone without a car.)

The couple of 10 minute spots reserved for library use are very convenient, and yet it would be much better to have a few spots that allow for up to 30 minutes parking (validated perhaps?). There are more times than not that I come to the library to return items and check new ones out (already picked out using the website from home), and it seems like 10 minutes should be sufficient. Yet, taking into account getting the kids to not wander, a brief stop at the water fountain, and a slightly slow check-out, and it's already pushing 15-20 minutes. I am always reluctant to use the library spots for this reason.

I also think that many people are completely unaware that they exist, as there is no indication of it from where you enter (and take the ticket that indicates you're going to pay to park).

A much bigger issue than the parking, however, is the many terrifying drop-offs in front of the library. Between the entrance to the surface lot often backing up, to the stopping in front of the library, I have witnessed more near misses than I can count.

Thanks for taking our comments!

I would like to see the free library parking extended from 10 to 15 minutes. Many times I have waited in a long check-out line and found my parking stay was 11 or 12 minutes. I would not mind if any of the parking fees went to the AADL, but it does not.
Thank you.

As a Youth Library-clerk, I'm also terrified of near misses on 5th. I think there needs to be clearer information regarding the free spots and free "drive through" privileges posted on the lot. Perhaps publicize it with an article in the newspaper? Now I am not sure if that would change the behavior of those drivers, but I think there should be an effort made in that direction.

The survey is for the Main Street area and the library is not in the Main Street area. Further, the survey is very limited in discussion of types of parking it considers and makes no attempt to take into account time of day for parking.

As someone who usually bikes to the library, your bicycle parking is detestable. The location is good, and there is a good supply of bicycle parking, but the parking isn't covered, which should be an obvious need to anyone who lives in Michigan. Covered bicycle parking was one of the most important needs pointed out by the University of Michigan report on bicycle use in Washtenaw County a few years ago.

Further, library staff apparently considers it beneath them to clear snow and ice from the bicycle parking. I met an indigent woman last year who took it upon herself to carry a snow shovel to clear the bike parking that your staff was incapable of clearing, even after I had made several complaints. How pathetic that the library is begging for more car parking when it is too cheap to take care of the alternatives for which the library is responsible.

Parking in downtown Ann Arbor has been easy for me. I always park on the street. Even if I have to drive around the block a couple of times it's just a minute or two before I find a place. Those folks who complain about parking in AA maybe are just used to the malls or are from out of town. I would never want downtown to compete with the malls. Downtown AA has so much more to offer than the mall. Whenever I can I do most of my shopping downtown .... and of course most of my eating out is there!

I never have trouble finding a parking spot for the library or for the Main Street area. If I just need to run in and out, parking in the library lot is free, and when I want to browse and spend some more time I'm happy to pay 50 cents or a dollar for the privilege of having the library in a great downtown location with a convenient parking lot. If I'm feeling broke I just come to the library on Sunday when parking is free.
As for the future of the lot, while it's convenient, a surface lot a terrible use of space for a prime downtown location. An underground garage with commercial and residential uses above would be ideal, although I know underground parking is very expensive. I don't think a big parking structure would be an asset to the streetscape, unless it also had other uses on the ground floor.
P.S. We should really pay for parking at the mall, too.

Covered bicycle parking is important and should be endorsed by the library, IMHO. It is difficult but not impossible to get car parking space but I have only lived here for six months. Check me later. Would like to see more books on tape or CD though!

The survey worked OK for me with Mozilla Firefox 1.0.6

This post is directed to "kjmclark" who posted above:
Calling the library "pathetic" and its staff "incapable" is petty and passive agressive. What do you hope to accomplish by insulting thr library and its employees? When you phrase your complaints and suggestions as you have above, it would make most people NOT want to help you. A little kindness and patience goes a long way.

I think it's ridiculous that the survey didn't even ask about bus or bicycle usage. Perhaps the parking crunch downtown would ease up if the busses ran later, or more frequently.

Dear smuggam,

I didn't call the library "pathetic", I said, "How pathetic that the library is begging for more car parking when it is too cheap to take care of the alternatives for which the library is responsible." If some library staff does not do a job they are responsible for, that staff is either incapable or negligent. Take your pick.

I would call the post politely aggressive. I hope to accomplish shaming the library into clearing its bicycle parking and looking at improvements. Using the complaint process for several years has gotten nowhere, so perhaps some public shaming is in order.

I have been registering complaints about this problem for several years, with no action taken. I think I and others have been quite kind and patient, to no avail. How much "kindness" is the library showing by making homeless women do the snow clearing for them?

This is not a library sponsored survey. It certainly impacts the library, but the library did not create the survey, nor are they conducting it. If you read the original post you will see that it's the Main Street Area Association conducting the survey. As a PARKING survey (which was introduced as being "short" and "to the point") I think we can all agree that bus schedules and bike access are beyond the scope. Please note too that if you look at this map the library *is* indeed included in the "area" of Main street - hence, the word "area."

It is very convenient to be able to go into the library for 15-20 minutes without having to pay for an hour. I think there needs to be parking convenient to the library. If the lot goes away parking adjacent to the library needs to be created. The community very strongly supports the library so the city needs to recognize this support and make parking available.

My experience is that there is always plenty of parking downtown, but it's just too expensive. Obviously the center of population has shifted dramatically, so I propose to solve the parking problem by selling the downtown library property, and moving to a bigger building, with parking (but on a bus line), closer to more of the people who use it. Space is obviously a problem, because the library has thrown away decades of useful periodicals, both in paper and microform. The librarians on duty deplore this, but explain "the administration says there's no room anymore."

I'm quite fond of that lot next to the downtown library and hope that it remains available. At the same time, I have to mention that I came to the site today -- and found this survey -- because I'm signing on to ask that a downtown book be sent to the Malletts Creek branch, where I'll pick it up after parking right outside. And were it a prettier day, I'd probably walk at noon from my office on campus.
I found the survey a bit too simplistic to feel that I had communicated anything of use.

I think the survey is narrowly slanted toward building support for underground parking to serve the Main Street area, without looking at other downtown parking needs and options. Here are a few ideas:

- For areas like the downtown library, I would like to see a portion of the adjacent/nearby surface lot(s) configured and clearly marked for short-term use, possibly with 1/2 hour meters. That could be very helpful to library patrons.

- There needs to be a safe, clearly marked drop-off zone for vehicles delivering patrons to the downtown library. The current practice of dropping off passengers in the left lane of fast-moving one-way traffic is frightful and dangerous.

- We need to keep in mind that any elimination of surface lots will place greater demand on street parking.

- Many people, particularly women and elderly folks, are understandably wary of underground parking. If the City wants to move ahead with underground parking, they need to begin developing and publicizing measures that will keep underground parking safe for all users. This should happen now if the City wants public support for underground parking.

- Parking lots are an expensive use of real estate, and installing systems to transport people are also complex and costly. However, given long-term plans to increase downtown population and building density, we need to plan now for satellite parking for the downtown area and convenient, efficient ways to move people from satellite parking into downtown for working, shopping, and dining. Building more parking structures in the downtown area, underground or above ground, will generate more vehicle congestion when we need to be planning for a future with less congestion.

So following goreygirl's line of thought, because the businesses divied up the downtown and the library happens to fall on the section allocated to the Main Street area, it is logical for the library to be included in a Main Street parking survey, regardless of how close the library really is to Main Street or how the city parking lot adjacent to the library is actually used. I, for one, can't really agree with that.

Second, because the survey is for parking, presumably "automobile parking", we should ignore transit ("bus parking"), bicycle use ("bicycle parking"), or any other form of transportation. This is a particularly strong bias of SE Michigan. To whit: "Ignoring all the alternatives, how much more automobile parking should we build?" Is it any wonder we end up with sprawl? I would say I can't agree with this point of goreygirl's either.

So globally we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but Main Street needs more car parking. Nationally we need to encourage walking and biking to fight obesity, but Main Street needs more car parking. The county would like to prevent or slow sprawl development, and Ann Arbor residents approved a millage to help, but Main Street needs more car parking. The city needs to reduce road congestion, but Main Street needs more car parking. Families need to reduce their transportation expenditures, but Main Street needs more car parking.

And the library, at least since a real estate agent got on the board, has developed a sudden need for suburban sprawl library locations and more car parking.

You know, kjmclark, I tend to agree with your basic sentiments, but you phrase everything in such an offensive and confrontational manner that my first instinct is to rush out and vote for whatever you oppose.

I love the downtown library. My family has walked to it, biked to it, driven to it almost weekly for years, depending on the weather and our other errands. We have almost always found parking in the surface lot (this past Sunday during the parade was an exception) and it seems to me that the price of parking has dropped in the past few years. I agree that something needs to be done about the front door drop-off situation. It's dangerous and I can't believe anyone with a whit of sense would endanger their loved ones in such a short-sighted quest for convenience.

I sincerely appreciate the library's efforts to clear the bike parking for the downtown branch this most recent snowfall. It is clear that the staff made an effort to improve the bike parking conditions. I have a few comments I would like staff to consider:

- It is not really necessary to clear all of the bike parking in the winter. It would be perfectly reasonable to concentrate your efforts on the half of the bike parking lot nearest the entrance.

- I recommend that you consider using a shovel along with the gas snow blower. The most important clearing for cyclists is the six inches on either side of the bike parking hoop, which will prove most difficult with the snow blower alone. It may be easier to use the gas equipment between the hoops, use the snow shovel to push the snow out from the middle of the hoop, then use the gas equipment again to blow that snow away.

- On Saturday, the snow from the cover over the walkway/entrance to the building was blowing off the cover and dropping onto the bike parking. This is an unfortunate aspect of the building design that probably only occurs when winds are from the south or southwest. This problem would be greatly reduced with covered bike parking, which is part of the reason covered parking was recommended in the UM study on biking in Washtenaw County. It would be helpful if staff could periodically check to verify that the area is actually cleared. Notice in the picture below that the foreground sidewalk is still clear, but the bike parking area is covering up with snow again:

I took several pictures on Saturday, let me know if other pictures would help make these recommendations clear.

Sooty, I am interested in hearing your opinions on my style, however I consider it inappropriate to discuss this in this forum. I would respectfully ask that in the future you avoid discussing my style of writing in this way, and stick to your fine comments on the topic. I hope to hear from you at with your comments on my style.

We appreciate all of the feedback about parking downtown and the interest in access to the Downtown Library generally. We will take all concerns/suggestions into consideration as we plan for renovations or changes to the current facility.