Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone defended his administration's push to create more biking and walking infrastructure in the city, even when those plans come at the expense of parking.
What's more, he said embracing multiple modes of transportation is good for local businesses and the local economy.
The mayor spoke about the matter Wednesday after addressing members of the local business community at the annual Business Town Meeting hosted by the Somerville Chamber of Commerce.
During a question and answer session, an audience member asked the mayor to talk about the city's efforts to build cycling infrastructure and reconstruct streetscapes and complaints from some about lack of parking.
"I argue that people aren't moving to Somerville because they have more parking," the mayor responded.
Curtatone said Somerville, like the rest of the country, is undergoing an "urban renaissance." People "want to live in active, walkable, bikeable, healthy communities where they can access goods and services," he said.
He said Somerville ranks highly on national walk-score and bike-score rankings, and he added, "There's data to prove this: There's a direct correlation to that increase in multi-modal capacity and the strength and growth of the local economy."
"Does anyone think that if we added a thousand more parking spots in Somerville and became less walkable and bikeable that would occur? No," he said, talking about growth in the local economy.
The issue has been brought up recently over a debate about reconstructing Beacon Street, where current plans call for the elimination of some parking spots and the creation of cycle tracks and new sidewalks.
The mayor said, "We've got to be creative about how we change and repaint the canvass of the city, from improvements on Beacon Street and East Broadway to Davis Square and to the advance of the Green Line."
Later in the evening, after answering questions about other topics, the mayor came back to the issue, saying he didn't want Somerville's squares to become like Medford Square.
"Medford Square: That's what happens when you don't have any parking regulations. That's what happens when you have too many banks," he said.
He suggested Medford Square gets too congested at around 5 p.m. "It's like downtown Dodge," he said.