Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The good news is that the parking lot is almost always jammed with cars in every available space

The Good News Is the Parking Lot Is Almost Always Full
It means that the Sequoya Branch of the Madison Public Library has been a big hit since it reopened about a year ago in its new quarters in Sequoya Commons. There's more space, more computers for people to use, and a lot more traffic than at their cramped older quarters. (Presumably there will be more parking space when Phase II of the Sequoya Commons development is finished.)

The bad news is the parking lot is almost always full, and cars have to circle and wait for someone else to leave the busy parking lot -- making it an interesting laboratory for studying human nature and how it affects parking behavior. The question is, how much parking hassle will people put up with in order to park slightly closer to the library -- that is, how much will they sacrifice in the hopes of saving a few steps?

Quite a bit, it seems. Most of the traffic coming into and out of the parking lot come in through the Caromar Dr. entrance, often passing a vacant space or two on the street. You can pull into one of those, walk across and be in the library before most of the people in cars ever get parked. But you usually have to parallel park and walk a few extra steps (basically, across the street) to get there.

Lured by the dream of saving a bit of effort and a few footsteps, most drive right by the on-street parking and pull into the parking lot, only to join the lines of cars circling to try to find a space. The feeling seems to be, hey, I might get lucky and find a space right away, right next to the front door. It's a fascinating example of the human tendency to give up that perfectly good bird in the hand and go after the two in the bush. And to rely on that automotive dream that our car will give us a door-to-door ride to wherever we want to go, even if it usually doesn't.

I go to Sequoya a lot. So where do I park? I can't help myself -- I do what everyone else is doing, pull into the parking lot, often passing up a perfectly good space on the street. The parking lot just seems to be the place to be, filled with bibliophiles looking for a place to park.

Note: Although the sign on the door says "Closed Sunday," that's not true in fall and winter -- the branch is open Sundays, 1:00-5:00, until spring.


Rich said...

Never undermine human nature and behavior.

Citizen Reader said...

Oof, I hate that parking lot almost as much as I hate the new Sequoya. I will park on the street simply to avoid that parking lot, which for some reason feels like it's sized for a car 1/3 the size of mine--which is not a big car. How people are maneuvering minivans in there is beyond me.

Pathetic, by the way, that they can't update their hours on their sign. Even if they had to post something temporarily that would be better. Aren't libraries supposed to be all about information?

Madison Guy said...

CR, nice to see there's someone who doesn't have the automatic Pavlovian response, "Oh, there's a parking lot -- gotta go there."

About the sign: The photo was taken before the Sunday hours started. They do actually have a temporary sign on the door about the Sunday hours. (I don't think they can make it part of the permanent language, because the funding is year-to-year.)

Citizen Reader said...

Oh, I'm glad to hear it about the temporary hours sign. Even if it's a year-to-year thing and they can't do a permanent sign, that's important info to post somewhere.

froggyprager said...

I agree that it is interesting to watch how we behave when it comes to parking, I recently read Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt and he had some good info about studies of this type of thing.

I go there fairly often and have almost always found a spot in their lot, sometimes I had to wait a few minutes for a spot (with my minivan). I think that people should park on the street, that is easy, the time and distance you have to walk to the door is similar to the distance you'd have to walk if you go to West Towne on a busy day. There will be more parking with the next phase but people are whiney babies if they complain about the parking lot or avoid the spot because of the parking. Madison is a city and we can't all get rock star parking ever place we visit. I used to live in Chicago and would sometimes drive around for a half hour looking for a spot when going out to eat or something and then have to walk a half mile to get to where I wanted to go. I really love the development and the library branch. It could have had a few more floors if you ask me but I bet they are glad they did not build them because I hear that very few of the condos have sold.