An interactive online map now depicts the location of accessible parking spaces in downtown Clayton thanks to the work of several students.
graduates Noah Eby and Shuyang Li, then members of the (MYAC), led the project. The council is a partnership between the and the city intended to educate students about civic affairs.
(View Clayton's interactive parking map.)
"The idea first came up at a Mayor's Youth Advisory Council meeting last fall," Eby wrote in an email interview. "City Manager Craig Owens suggested that an interactive map of accessible parking in Clayton might be a good project for MYAC, and Shuyang and I volunteered to look into it."
The idea intrigued Li.
"It struck me as a service that would be very helpful to city visitors and residents, and it also seemed like a novel idea that involved actually surveying the city rather than just working in a static location," Li stated in an email interview.
To collect data, the two teamed up with fellow MYAC members Andrea Stiffelman and Allison O'Neal. They walked and drove around the city to count accessible spaces at parking lots and garages. They gathered most of the information in a single weekend over a period of about five hours.
"The most surprising aspect of our study was how many accessible spaces are in some of the parking garages in Clayton," Eby stated. "Some of the garages go six or seven levels underground, and many have accessible parking on all of those levels."
Also surprising: The widely varying numbers of accessible spots.
"We had several garages with 10 to 20 accessible spots, but some of the lots had no accessible spots at all, or others with just two to three," Li stated.
Eby compiled the data in a spreadsheet, and then Li used Google Maps to build a visual guide. They then shared the link with City Hall.
Darren Young with the City of Clayton took responsibility for getting the information online.
"The city's website has had an interactive map for some time," Young stated in an email interview. "That map included locations for parks, city buildings and MetroLink stations. It did not include parking locations. After receiving the data from the students, I added it to our interactive map."
Eby said the online map is a "great step" toward informing people about accessible parking in Clayton. He also thinks the city could benefit from improving street signs that direct people to free public parking and accessible spots.
Li said the city has "complete coverage" in that it has accessible parking spots in a variety of downtown locations. He too sees room for change.
"I believe that the accessible parking situation can be improved … by putting an indicator at lot entrances (a sign, or a sticker on existing signs, perhaps?) with the number of accessible spots in that lot," Li stated. "Perhaps one could additionally mandate a certain proportion of accessible parking spots (let's say, for example, 1:10—10 percent of all spots must be accessible) so that the parking situation would be standardized throughout the city. All this would be more convenient for visitors and residents who would like to take advantage of accessible parking."
The city's Young sees value in the service.
"My hope is that visitors to our website will find this feature useful when planning a trip to Clayton," he said.