Downtown BGKY is part of the fastest-growing city in Kentucky. Transportation and parking around the center of town has been a hot topic since the City’s founding 225 years ago. The City has been researching parking opportunities in Downtowns across the country for years.
We put together this list of 10 common parking truths that may be found in any growing, vibrant Downtown, and how they relate to our beautiful Downtown BGKY:
Downtown parking may be free or convenient. It is rarely both.
Downtown BGKY is fortunate to have free public parking conveniently located within a few blocks of major public and privately-owned venues, retailers, and the Fountain Row arts & entertainment district.
When you visit other Downtowns, how convenient is your parking from your final destination?
Are you paying for that parking?
Truly “free” parking doesn’t exist.
Someone/an entity somewhere, owns that property and is paying to clean, pave, gravel, clear, paint stripe, etc. to maintain it.
The City of Bowling Green, Warren County, TIF Authority (Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority), and BGMU are government-involved entities that own/maintain Downtown’s free public parking lots and spaces.
One person does not equal one parking spot.
When we say 1,200+ free public parking spots are available in our Downtown, we don’t mean only 1,200 people can visit.
Consider circumstances for thousands of people using the Downtown parking infrastructure, like families and friends carpooling to free public parking, using a private spot at a friend’s home or apartment and walking to a Downtown event, or utilizing GoBG transit and Uber/Lyft/ride shares.
Downtown public parking infrastructures have been proven to hold more people within a concentrated space than you may realize.
Our free public parking structure has almost 800 spots and is often nearly empty – except during major events at SKyPAC, BG Ballpark, Circus or Fountain Squares, The Capitol, and a combination of other venues. That only happens a handful of days per year, when maybe 9-12,000 people are in a concentrated couple of blocks at once.
At least 2-3 of those venues must be full at capacity at the same time to fill the structure. If the structure fills, the surrounding free public parking lots/street parking are good alternatives.
The WKU Parking & Transportation team have been integral in understanding the traffic surveys within this area.
Free public parking lots must meet ADA accessibility requirements, as must crosswalks and sidewalks.
Safety and accessibility are paramount. There is an ADA formula mandating 1 parking space per 25 in any lot be accessible – with specific space sizes, aisles, and signage.
Find out more at: ada.gov/topics/parking/
Some parking lots, especially for historic buildings or districts, were built before modern codes and may not guarantee accessibility. However, many private owners are working on updating as they improve their property.
If you have ADA accessibility needs and are unfamiliar with any given Downtown, call ahead/reach out to your destination for advice.
Many Downtown businesses help customers/clients find accessible parking, arrange for a pick up/drop off spot, or guide as best they can.
How far are you really walking when parking at a mall/box store, doing business, and leaving? Likely the same or less than parking in a free public spot Downtown.
Imagine parking in a spot near the back of a lot, walking all the way into a store, all over the store, and back to the rear of a large lot with your purchases.
That distance is likely more than the couple of blocks between your Downtown destination(s) and your Downtown free public parking location(s).
Even at a strip mall or box store, you don’t always park directly in front of the entrance door. You likely walk to get there.
Comments like “There’s nowhere to park Downtown,” or “I can never find Downtown parking,” are often misleading.
What those comments are more likely to mean is: “While there is ample parking, there’s no place I want to park.”
For premium, convenient free parking, many Downtown businesses give customers the best access. In our Downtown, most (but not all) public-facing Fountain Square area privately-owned businesses encourage staff to park off the square, to give the best free public parking to their customers.
This is not mandatory, though. Downtown businesses are neighbors, communicating and working together to encourage the best possible experiences for their guests.
When you’re a tourist visiting any Downtown’s entertainment venues, theme parks, etc., you’re more likely to expect to pay for convenient parking.
Tourists expect to pay for an experience. Locals are more likely to complain about paid parking.
If you believe that you/someone you know have been wrongly towed, please file a complaint to authorities. The City of Bowling Green’s Code Compliance division has a complaint form on the City website here: bgky.org, with a Codes division customer service phone number and email here, too.
Please complete the online form to start a case for the investigation process. This division investigates upwards of 10,000+ cases annually.
A vibrant, growing Downtown is its own neighborhood, often a mix of businesses and residences of all types. There is no one-size-fits-all parking resolution.
Did you know more than 75 businesses operate around the Fountain Square area alone? Nevermind the residences both on and right off the same space?
They don’t all operate during the same hours, have the same target customers, or the same business model.
They all share the neighborhood, nonetheless.
Every neighborhood has its own quirks and personality.
There is no singular parking resolution for every Downtown.
Private parking lot owners don’t have the same goals with their properties, and likely carry the financial responsibility to maintain it.
In our Downtown, some private parking lot owners have activated their lots as 24/7 paid parking with active towing. If you choose to park in any lot that requires payment, then expect to pay. Even if it’s just for a couple minutes, you take the risk of parking in a location that requires payment.
While others do not run their lots as pay-to-park, they merely want their tenants to be the only ones using it.
Why? We’re told many private lots have been abused with garbage. Just like you may bear the financial burden of maintaining your driveway or vehicle, these property owners bear the burden of clean up and maintenance costs of those private parking lots.
Regardless, the City towing ordinance requires specific signage in all lots that practice active towing. Please file a complaint here if you believe a code may be violated.