By LINDSAY WELBERS
Hyde Park has plenty of parking, it’s just not publicly accessible.
That was what a study, commissioned by the South East Chicago Commission and carried out by T. Y. Lin International, found. Jim Considine, chief planner with T. Y. Lin International, presented the results at the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Council Thursday night at St. Paul and the Redeemer, 4945 S. Dorchester Ave.
Fourth Ward Ald. Will Burns’ office requested the SECC commission the study. Funding came from the University of Chicago.
“There’s that old canard about how there’s nowhere to hide and nowhere to park, [in Hyde Park]. Now we know there is parking. We just can’t get to it,” Burns said.
The study looked at traffic and parking patterns along 53rd Street from South Ellis Avenue to South Hyde Park Boulevard, and from Lake Park Avenue between 51st Street and 55th Street. It also studied the parking available from 47th Street on the north, Cottage Grove Avenue on the west, Stony Island Avenue on the east and 57th Street on the south.
The study concluded that there are 4,429 available parking spaces in all Hyde Park. Of those, 1,759 are on street and 2,670 are in private lots.
The purpose of the study was to assess the current state of parking and what other types of transit are used in Hyde Park. T.Y. Lin made no recommendations to make better use of the parking available.
“There is a general understanding that there is not enough parking in Hyde Park. The study found that this is more perception than reality and there is actually a large surplus of off-street parking,” the study concluded.
T.Y. Lin viewed satellite photos of the neighborhood and followed up by investigating in-person the parking available. The surplus parking is usually connected to buildings required by zoning to have lots.
“The community is concerned about traffic impacts from new development. SECC has created a vision for the community that suggests that the traffic impacts associated with growth can be ameliorated by discouraging automobile use, promoting parking efficiencies, and encouraging alternative forms of transportation – bicycling, walking and transit use,” the study said.
On an average weekday free on-street parking is at 77 percent capacity and 82 percent on Saturdays. Paid on-street parking is usually 51 percent full during the week and 77 percent full on Saturday.
Public paid lots, which almost rival paid on-street parking in number, are usually only 37 percent full on weekdays and 26 percent full on Saturday.
Parking counts were taken daily two hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The study made no concrete recommendations for alleviating parking congestion for Hyde Parkers.
Considine compared the distance shoppers have to walk in a crowded parking lot in a suburban shopping center to how far people need to go to look for a space in Hyde Park. Walking from the far end of a mall parking lot can be equal to one or two blocks in an urban setting.
SECC head Wendy Walker Williams said the organization will accept community input about how to use this information to ease parking headaches in the neighborhood. The study can is online at secc-chicago.org/primary-news/hyde-park-parking-and-transportation-study-released.