Why would drivers want fewer parking spaces, not more?

Why would drivers want fewer parking spaces, not more? »Play Video
Many drivers who park along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard get their mirrors ripped off by passing traffic. This is because the parking lane is too narrow.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Be careful what you wish for, especially if you wish for more parking spaces along a busy street.

Deborah Banks found out why some drivers are asking the city of Portland to take away the parking lane it added to Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard a decade ago.

"It was a hit-and-run," said Banks, who only parked her car for 15 minutes outside Happy Hamster Computers when a truck, bus or car shredded her mirror. "It was totally torn off. I drove home holding it."

So many driver-side mirrors get ripped off, two businesses on the 2800 block added signs warning their customers to fold mirrors in before parking on the street.

Even if you park as close to the curb as you can, your vehicle will hug the line separating the parking lane from all the trucks, buses and cars zipping along.

If you drive a wide vehicle, like an SUV or minivan, your tire will sit on top of the line, maybe even extend into the traffic lane. And that's perfectly normal given the narrow parking lane.

"This is definitely not a new problem," said Zac Cramer, owner of Happy Hamster, who says he's seen buses and trucks tear off mirrors about once or twice a month since he opened his computer business in 2009.

"People see our sign. They have that 'Oh no!' look. They turn around, run back out and pull their mirrors back in."

Deborah Banks had to pay $560 to replace her broken mirror.

"We don't want people climbing out of the car and getting hit by cars. Obviously, MLK is not wide enough for parking," she said.

She's right.

The parking lane is 7 feet wide. That's a foot too narrow, says Diane Dulken, spokeswoman for the Portland Transportation Bureau, or PBOT.

PBOT's standard for parking lanes is 8 feet elsewhere in the city.

MLK Boulevard got a skinny lane because that's what people asked for, says Dulken.

The city redesigned the street in the late 1990s and early 2000s to please business owners who complained there wasn't enough parking for customers.

Now some customers like Banks want the city to redesign the street back to the way it was.

"I'm a small business owner. I know how important it is to have adequate parking. But this is a danger. A lot of money coming out of people's personal pockets," said Banks, who owns a small business in Vancouver.

PBOT says it will consider removing the parking lane based on feedback, the same way it decided to add the parking lane a decade ago.