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Parking: the big fear that didn't materialize

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NetsDaily/Elone

For much of the fight over Atlantic Yards, residents of the neighborhoods near Barclays Center feared a massive influx of cars on their already tight streets, lost drivers looking for elusive parking spots. They wanted streets zoned off for residential parking.

Well, it never happened and the big reason was a much-maligned parking plan that worked. Sam Schwartz, a long time city traffic engineer, hit on a strategy: make people believe it was smarter to use any means of transportation other than their cars. He and Barclays Center cut the number of parking spots in half, a mere 540 spots for an arena that sits 17,732 for basketball and 19,000 for concerts.

The result has been a surprising and welcome use of mass transit and things as mundane as walking and biking. The Times reports...

At a typical Brooklyn Nets weekday game, a quarter of the fans arrive by private car; more than half take the subway. The third most popular mode of travel is walking (6.9 percent), which outpaces the Long Island Rail Road (6 percent), taxis or car services (5.7 percent) and city buses (1.1 percent).

One reason, says Schwartz that things worked so well is that so few fans, at least by his surveys, followed the team from New Jersey. "One of our concerns was if they really had very loyal fans, we would have had a lot of people who could have come from car-oriented communities," he said. "That didn’t occur."

The arena and Schwartz's next challenge will be adjusting the habits of Islander fans, who will be arriving in two or three years. The LIRR's Atlantic Terminal is across the street where with one connection, fans can access 10 of the 11 lines serving Long Island. But even more so than New Jersey, Islander fans are car people.