Marquette’s winter parking needs reform

NW Staff

We have all seen the bright envelopes on our friend’s, a stranger’s or even our own windshields. Oftentimes, all those pieces of paper mean to us is we will be out $50 that month.
In blizzard-ridden Marquette, that parking fine is necessary to prevent people from parking on the street when the snow plows come out, but after students have been drinking with friends at the bar or after they have been playing beer pong for hours, the last thing on anyone’s mind should be that they need to move their cars off the street when 1 a.m. rolls around.
Marquette, like many cities with snowy winters, has a parking ban which prohibits parking on any city street or city parking lot from 1 a.m. until 6 a.m. Nov. 1 through April 1.
Because all other parking spaces in town are private, the parking ban leaves little option for those students who are out drinking than to drive home despite their varying degrees of alcohol intoxication.
According to NMU’s Health Promotion Office (HPO), although one-fourth of NMU students haven’t drunk alcohol in the last month, one out of three students consume five or more drinks per sitting. If a 170lb male consumes a six-pack of regular beer, that’s approximately a blood alcohol content of .08 — the legal limit in all 50 states — in one hour of drinking.
Inevitably, Northern students will drink, sometimes over the limit, and often some are also driving.
Last year, according to the Marquette Police Department, there were 154 people convicted of driving under the influence in Marquette. This number does not the include intoxicated drivers who were not caught.
There’s no doubt that there are many programs that NMU provides for its students who are drinking, such as the 30,000 Designated Driver cards that the HPO has put out since January 2007. But is Marquette’s winter parking ban encouraging student drivers to drive home after a few drinks so that they don’t have to suffer the consequences of a $50 dent in their pockets?
The need to keep roads clear of snow is certainly important but having drunk or buzzed drivers on the road is also dangerous.
Luckily, there are solutions that could be explored. Some cities that have to deal with excessively snowy winters and side-street parking, like Grand Rapids, Mich., have a seemingly more efficient way to handle the conflicting issues of snowfall and drunk drivers.
During the winter, Grand Rapids requires those who wish to park outside of private parking to park on the odd addressed side of the street on odd days and on even day, it requires people to park on the even addressed side of the road. This allows parking space for those who need it as well enough room to plow the rest of the road every other day.
I realize this change would require much planning so I offer a temporary solution: the city of Marquette should allow students and citizens alike a designated area in downtown Marquette to park overnight until a more long-term solution can be reached and executed.
While those bright parking tickets are pleasant to laugh about long after paying them, they’re unnecessary and are likely deterring students—and Marquette residents—from performing safe drinking practices.
Editor’s note: Lucia Lopez can be reached at [email protected]

Tom Cory/ N.W