Portland celebrates holiday shopping with free parking in downtown garages

Portland celebrates holiday shopping with free parking in downtown garages

outside target

Parking is always free for many shoppers.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The latest piece of Portland’s ongoing effort to get people to realize that there are places to park cars downtown other than curbs is to offer free parking in its six public garages.

Here’s the word from tourism promotion group Travel Portland:

On three Sundays in December 2015 (Dec. 6, 13 and 20), parking at downtown SmartPark lots is free. Customers who park at SmartPark garages can visit the customer service kiosk at Pioneer Place (lower level near the Gap) or Boys’ Fort (902 S.W. Morrison St.) or PDX Pop-Up Shops (438 N.W. Broadway and 341 N.W. Fifth Ave.) any time between noon and 5 p.m. to show their eligible SmartPark ticket and receive one $5 parking voucher to cover parking for the day.

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There’s nothing inherently wrong with a special like this — it’s a little bit like a special on milk, beer or chicken that gets you to walk in the door of an unfamiliar grocer, or the free transit rides that TriMet offers each New Year’s Eve.

But it’s also a little ironic that an organization that works so hard to communicate that walking, biking and transit are major joys of Portland…

…still feels the need to promote the expectation of free parking (which only tends to interfere with the proximity that is needed for good biking, walking and transit) as a way to compete with suburban shopping malls. (Or at least with the idea of suburban shopping malls … actual malls are failing across the country.)

And it’s also a sign of one of the fundamental truths of parking: no matter how much off-street parking you build, you will never get people to use it unless it is cheaper than the nearby on-street parking.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org


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