The Arlington County Republican Party recently chose to make a stink over the fact that as many as eight metered parking spaces have been replaced with Capital Bikeshare stations.

However, this is really a non-issue. Prior to this, 100% of street parking in Arlington was for cars; now it’s maybe 98-99%. That is still remarkably unbalanced.

TBD interviewed me for a story about the issue:

The contention that replacing these parking spots with bikeshare parking costs the county money and is a bad idea is wrong in so many ways.

First, the only way it costs the county money is if every single spot within blocks is completely full. That’s because someone seeking street parking (like the woman in the video) will likely find another spot and pay there, although it may be less conveniently located.

Second, these spaces will get utilized much more than a car parking spot. If even 2-3 people use the bikeshare station over a two-hour period, that’s likely more people than would have used the metered spot it replaced anyway.

Third, it’s good for business. As this recent economic article clarifies, the use of public space for bike parking is far more cost effective than for car parking.

Fourth, it actually can make it more convenient, even for car drivers. As I point out in the video, I parked my car near a CaBi station with plenty of adjacent street parking and then took the CaBi bike the 5-6 blocks to where I needed to meet my friend.

This was quicker and easier than trying to find a spot (whether or not any had been given to bikes) near the intersection of Moore and Wilson in Rosslyn. I would have almost certainly circled the block at least once and, if I had found a spot, it would have been not that close to where I was trying to go—forcing me to walk several blocks anyway. What I did was much faster and more convenient.

Thus, having plenty of Bikeshare stations sprinkled throughout a dense area can make it more convenient for drivers, because it greatly expands the area where they can find parking and still easily access their destination.

Occasional GGW contributor and Arlington resident Erik Bootsma wrote:

As a Republican (gasp!) and an Arlington resident, and I can tell you that using the CaBi is something I would use extensively. … I can’t tell you how frustrating the GOP here can be, with their 100% dashboard mentality. Freedom of choice also means freedom from HAVING to own a car, so having options is great.

I have a car myself and like having it, but also like having the option to use transit, to have a bike and to walk. If the GOP here doesn’t wake up to the reality of Arlington/Washington urban life they will remain at 20%.

They need to be more responsive to the real desires of their constituency and realize that if I wanted to live in a sea of asphalt and parking lots, and wanted to avoid walking at all costs, I’d live in Manassas, not in Arlington … Just because I’m in favor of living in a city, doesn’t mean I’m a central planning statist bent on taking away freedom.

Arlington also removed a few parking spaces in Pentagon City to plant more trees, but the local GOP either didn’t know about it or didn’t object.

Improving flexibility of travel options and making parking more equitable and convenient for everyone increases access and foot traffic to local businesses, and that’s something any political party ought to support.

Steve Offutt has been working at the confluence of business and environment for almost 20 years, with experience in climate change solutions, green building, business-government partnerships, transportation demand management, and more. He lives in Arlington with his wife and two children and is a cyclist, pedestrian, transit rider and driver.