Student researchers hope to provide clarity for downtown parking

Student researchers hope to provide clarity for downtown parking

Downtown businesses have long been concerned about whether parking issues reduce customer satisfaction with the downtown shopping and dining experience. One previous study looked at the feasibility of constructing a parking garage. It determined the cost of construction would be very hard for Bloomsburg to pay given the projected revenues from the garage.

Bloomsburg Student Research Parking Study

The current study focuses specifically on where and when parking is available in an effort to better understand what the challenges are. Led by student researchers, Stephen Staats, a senior criminal justice major, and Tony DiBiase, a junior geoscience major, a group of 30-plus student volunteers are utilizing mobile GIS devices not for mapping but to monitor downtown parking spaces and collect data to better understand parking tendencies. The hope is to improve Bloomsburg’s congestive parking situation. Success of this study could serve as a model for other municipalities across the country trying to improve their parking efficiency.

The study is a collaboration between BU’s Center for Community Research and Consulting, the Department of Environmental Geographical and Geological Sciences and the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice. The Town of Bloomsburg Police Department, the Bloomsburg Planning Commission and Downtown Bloomsburg, Inc., part of the Columbia-Montour Chamber of Commerce, each provided indispensable help in the planning of the project. The Bloomsburg University Foundation has provided the funding for the project.

A collaborative faculty and student team has created a detailed map of all parking spaces in the downtown and teams of student volunteers are monitoring the spots throughout the day on multiple days. Researchers are providing the town with a report on parking congestion and other patterns of behavior they are able to discover (e.g., the degree to which repeatedly pumping meters is an issue in the downtown zone).

Chris Podeschi and Jeff Brunskill are heading the project along with two student researchers, Staats and DiBiase. Approximately 30 other student volunteers are assisting with data collection and monitoring of parking behaviors. #CollaborativeLearning