It’s the beginning of the semester at Grand Rapids Community College, and with that comes weeks of traffic snarl to get into the campus parking ramps, leaving some students idling their cars for 45 minutes or more.
GRCC Police Chief Rebecca Whitman knows this all too well. For the first several weeks when students are learning the campus, she has officers directing backed up traffic into the parking ramps to get people in as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, there is only so much they can do during the peak times of 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We recommend that students get here early,” Whitman said. “Don’t plan on showing up 10 minutes before your class and expect to get there on time.”
On campus, there are four GRCC parking areas, though many people are not aware of all four. There’s the main Bostwick Ramp, the Lyon Ramp, the Barlcay Lot, and the ramp at Sneden Hall. All ramps are pay upon exit, except for the Barclay Lot, which is pay upon entrance.
Students who do not have the $2.50 on their Raider Cards at the time of exit and have no way of depositing money may take a fail-to-pay, though Whitman encourages this to be used in emergency situations only.
“(If a student takes a fail-to-pay), there is a freeze placed on their account until it’s paid,” Whitman said. The first two offenses are $9 each, and then it’s $20 each time.
New to the Sneden Hall Ramp is a pay-in-lane machine, which allows people to pay the public parking rates with a credit card. This is the second ramp to have this accommodation, the first being the Lyon Ramp.
Whitman says that new students tend to park where they parked for orientation because that is what they know.
“Eventually, they figure out they can spread out,” Whitman said. But in the meantime, Whitman wants people to be respectful to the officers directing traffic.
“Be patient, read the signs, and listen to the officers’ directions,” Whitman said. “(Or else), you could easily get a traffic ticket. If you do something against the officers’ directions, it can cause an accident.”
In an attempt to ease the commotion, Whitman wants students to be aware of the other parking options available to students.
Off campus, there is the option of rent a space from a DASH lot.
“There are still 200 spaces in the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) lot,” Whitman said. “A student can purchase a space there for $200 a year. They’ll be able to park there and take the DASH bus.”
Many people also park in residential areas or at parking meters, but Whitman wants them to make sure they’re doing so lawfully. She says street parking is mandated by the city, and a $20 ticket will be issued if people don’t park according to the street signs, or if they break the city’s regulations, such as parking over one foot from a curb.
When parking at meters, a little-known option of payment is over the phone through a program called Parkmobile. You register your car, your cell phone, and a credit card. When you want to activate a parking session, just call the Parkmobile number. It stays active for the time allowed or until a call is made to deactivate. Though the meter says “Expired” after activation, there will be no ticket issued. The officer will check the Parkmobile database to see if there is an active session for the car.
Aside from parking, Whitman wants to remind people to be respectful and responsible when driving around campus, particularly with the crosswalks.
“If you see someone who is waiting to cross, go ahead and stop,” she said. “Pedestrians always have the right of way.”
- To view GRCC’s parking information and a campus map, visit http://cms.grcc.edu/parking
- To see a complete list of parking violations and fines for the city of Grand Rapids, visit http://grcity.us/treasury/treasurers-office/Pages/Parking-Violations-Schedule-of-Fines.aspx
- To register for the DASH lot or see a route map, visit http://cms.grcc.edu/dash
- To see more information about Parkmobile, visit https://parkmobile.zendesk.com/entries/21025287-grand-rapids-mi-parkmobile-info
Edit 8/27/2012: Check out our update and photo gallery