OPINION: Delivery drivers deserve free parking


El Shedrick, Opinion Writer

Anyone that has spent even a few days in Boone knows that the parking situation here is less than ideal. However, something that is not discussed as often is the parking situation for delivery drivers and other food service workers in the area. In the eyes of delivery drivers who spend a large portion of their time searching for places to park on King Street and other busy areas, this is a big issue. A majority of restaurants on King Street do not have designated curbside pickup spaces for parking and running inside. This results in many delivery drivers having to park in spaces that are not safe or allowed. 

The other option for delivery drivers is to pay to park somewhere. Oftentimes there are not enough parking spots available for drivers to find a space, but if there are spots available, they have parking meters. Using King Street as an example, it costs $1/hour to park. This does not seem like a lot, but with the amount of restaurants that a driver visits in a single shift, it does add up. In the United States, overpaying for unnecessary parking costs us $20.4 billion per year. Delivery drivers should not have to pay out of their own pocket in order to find parking so they can deliver other peoples’ food. 

Designated reduced or free parking spaces for service and delivery drivers would both take the stress off workers to find parking and save them a significant amount of money over time. In addition, it would benefit customers of delivery services by increasing the speed of service. According to a survey of 120 delivery drivers from different companies, drivers spend four to seven minutes per order looking for parking, not including the amount of time that it takes to go into the restaurant and get back on the road. 

Similar to Boone, Asheville also has parking issues. Parking in Asheville costs downtown service workers between $100-$400 a month. To avoid parking at the meters or paying a large amount in parking garages, service workers in Asheville often park far away to find free street parking, resulting in many workers potentially having to take unsafe walks. These stressful conditions affect the finances and safety of workers. The Asheville Food and Beverage United coalition’s solution to address parking is the same as the one above: designated reduced or free parking. After over 50 people gathered outside the Buncombe County Courthouse calling for this change, members of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a reduced-price parking program. Like Boone, Asheville is home to a UNC school, whose students utilize delivery services similar to App State’s. Since Boone and Asheville share many similarities, this plan for reduced parking would work well in Boone to help with the parking stresses that delivery drivers and food service workers face.