Let me begin by saying I was never opposed to the idea of eliminating parking along Walnut Street in Newton Highlands. I just wanted the decision to be made wisely.
But if the data presented to analyze this decision is indicative of the way we are making parking policy decisions in Newton then wisdom is being shortchanged.
For starters, take a look at slides #8 #9 #10 and #11 from the presentation given to the Traffic Council prior to its 4-1 vote to permanently end Walnut Street parking between Beacon Street (near Whole Foods) and Forest Street (near the fountain)
In particular, on slide #8 (reproduced here) you’ll see that overwhelmingly respondents in a city-conducted survey said they park on Walnut Street and then hop aboard the MBTA Green Line. Only a small fraction of the Walnut Street parkers were residents. Zero percent worked in the Newton Highlands.
Now take a look at side #7. (below). This slide indicates that this survey was conducted by placing a flyer on the windshield of more than 40 cars that were parked along Walnut before the parking was restricted. From there, recipients were asked to go online and complete a survey (data from which was used to complete the charts on next four sides).
Now I’m not a psychometrician but I know that, statistically speaking, there is no way that the results of a sample of ten people (in an online survey no less — how do we know one person didn’t vote ten times?) should have ever seen the light of day in this presentation (let alone take up 5 of 17 slides). It’s just not large enough.
Let’s hope that’s not what convinced two of the council members who voted yes to approve this decision. And let’s hope that’s not the method being used to make other important decisions.