This post will be one that evolves as the downtown transportation scene changes and grows. I have overheard people complain about the lack of parking, the overcrowded lots on weekends, and others are just intimidated with finding a spot on the street and making the effort to parallel park. If anyone reading this thinks that downtown is hard to get to or inaccessible, allow me to try and persuade you otherwise and properly inform you about your options about getting around to the various districts that make up the downtown area. With a little information beforehand, your experience downtown will lessen your headache in the car and increase your headache the next morning (which is a good thing if you know what I mean)
You’re not a VIP!
I’d like to take a little stab at the suburban parking mentality. In suburbia, shops are typically built in shopping centers and an ocean of parking is laid out right outside the front door. You park with the store clearly visible in front of you and you walk right to it. That works just fine in a car-dependent area, like all suburbs in America are these days. This mentality does not apply in a downtown area and with Raleigh’s growing, a new mentality must be adopted by visitors so that they know what to expect.
If the parking spaces right in front of The Big Easy are taken and you have to park three blocks down and around the corner to get there, this does not mean that more parking in downtown is needed. What you should have known is that there is a parking deck a block away that you can easily park in and walk to the restaurant.
Now it is not your fault for parking so ‘far away’ and walking, the blame can be placed on the city for not advertising the parking options very well or for you not taking the time for doing a little homework. This is something the Downtown Raleigh Alliance is trying to help. Information is power and at their website here, you can see an interactive map of all the parking decks and lots available to you. I encourage everyone to make a note of the closest deck or lot to your location, get to know it, and use it.
Not the walking type? Ride then.
So you drove downtown and have plans with friends to have dinner on Fayetteville Street, drinks on Glenwood, and then dancing in the warehouse district. This sounds like it involves three trips with your car. Not at all! Here are some various options, other then just walking, to get to your destinations.
• Cabs – Cabs are fairly easy to spot in the busier sections of downtown. Flag one down and get a ride to your location. As downtown grows so will the frequency of cabs. I really hope to see a solid fleet of cabs moving people around downtown in the near future. White horse is the downtown cab of choice.
• Horse and Carriage – A more laid back option to getting around. Right now they are just rides around a laid out route. I see no reason that they could not let you out at a certain spot on the route. This may be the more romantic way to go for you guys out there, or just do it for the kiddies. Click here for more information.
• Rickshaw – New this year to downtown. Rickshaws have been popping up and you can use them to get all over downtown. This is a very environment friendly option and right now they are free, well sort of, just make sure you tip them well. According to this article, they have plans on expanding the service in the future. I like this option the best. Easily the most fun choice. They have a website but its not up yet.
• Raleigh Trolley – This is like the bus system for downtown. Currently one trolley runs on limited hours but there are plans to expand the service. Check this website for times and the route. I really think this will take off once Fayetteville Street has been completed.
So there it is. Take a look at all the links and add some bookmarks to your browser. Next time, before you head out to the downtown area, plan ahead and approach it with confidence. No need to thank me.