There is some concern from Newton Centre merchants about a proposed 3-season bike corral in one space on Langley St. Not unexpected. Not unreasonable. They want to make sure that as many customers as possible have access to the prime parking spaces.

As I explained in my previous post, we’ll learn if a single space can be turned into more customers or not. I’m optimistic. The trial will tell.

But, there may be bigger gains to be had focusing on the use of the other 35 spaces : the 18 on the north side and the 17 on the south side of the street between Centre and Beacon.

Start by understanding that any customers coming to Newton Centre now was either willing to park in a non-prime location (likely in the triangle) or was lucky to get a prime Langley space. The only way you end up with more customers for Langley St. establishments is if we can attract a new group of customers: those who would shop or bank on the street if there was almost certainly an empty prime space. If this group exists and if we can assure prime spaces, business goes up.

I don’t know if the group exists. But, there is a straightforward way to assure regular vacancies in the prime spaces. Charge more for the prime spaces. (Wouldn’t hurt to make it easier to pay, too.) There is some price at which there will be 85% occupancy (5 or so of our prime Langley spaces empty). At that price, some people will not park on Langley at all, heading straight to cheaper parking in the triangle.

Since we already know that any existing customer who comes by car is already prepared to park in the triangle, sending some directly there is not going to make their experience worse. And, if we price to get 85% occupancy, we know that the folks parking on Langley are willing to do so. And,those who do park in the prime spaces, will likely do so for shorter, promoting turnover.

So, the merchants should appear tonight at Traffic Council and express their concern about the use of one of the 38 spaces on Langley. But, they should also give some serious thought to getting more out of the other 37.

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