Let’s talk about the parking situation in Campustown, specifically on Welch Avenue.
Now, we all know what’s around Welch Avenue — the bars. Every weekend, Welch is filled with college students burnt out from the week, just trying to let loose and have a little bit of fun. Some of the students live within walking distance of the bars, but a good chunk of them (including me) live off-campus.
If I go out to the bars, it turns into a whole thing. I have to figure out how to get there and how to drive home.
Do I drive myself there then stay sober the entire night so I can drive myself home? Do I spend money on an Uber? Do I beg someone to drive me there and back? Do I drive and then leave my car there overnight to get towed, or get a parking ticket and figure out some other way to get home?
These are questions that would be answered with one solution: overnight parking in Campustown.
Sure, there’s the midnight express bus — except I have been here for three years, and neither I nor my friends have any idea how to even access the midnight express.
I’ve been in this situation more than a few times. I drive over to Welch and tell myself I’m going to have only one beer; then I’ll drive home. But sometimes, that backfires. I have two beers. Or I only have one beer, but because I didn’t eat enough food that day, it hits me harder than normal.
Either way, I find myself in a situation where I don’t feel safe enough to drive myself home. My car sits overnight on Welch, only to inevitably get a parking ticket.
It isn’t a stretch to imagine that I’m not the only one this happens to.
Instead of having a safe place to park in case students are too drunk to drive, they have to risk getting a parking ticket, or in the worst case, getting towed.
Why are we punishing students for making an intelligent decision that will save not only their own life but the lives of others?
The Iowa State University Police Department reported four OWIs in September.
While it obviously won’t completely eliminate drunk driving, knowing that there’s a safe overnight spot on Welch may help dissuade students from drunk driving.
The City of Ames has already taken some steps to make Campustown safer, including the addition of fences around the tree trenches in the middle of the sidewalks.
Maybe this should be the next step. Don’t punish students for making good decisions.