Communities make changes to improve parking ← Related Article Visit The Boston Globe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Comment on this Scroll to top of page Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff An increasing number of suburbs are turning to the parking study as they look for ways to alleviate gridlock and create vibrant downtown destinations. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff Before the completion of the Dedham Square improvement project in late 2013, the intersection created a danger for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff Some communities like Belmont have embraced free or reduced-price parking a block or two from main commercial areas. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff According Jessica Robertson of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, those minor adjustments ensure steady turnover on Main Street. Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff Salem created different pricing levels at on-street meters to ensure availability in the most popular downtown areas. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff Improvements in Dedham Square included getting rid of the paid permit requirement in one lot and replacing old-fashioned meters with electronic pay stations. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff Many of the changes in Dedham Square cater to people running quick errands by allowing them to park for free for the first 15 minutes. Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff In addition to the tiered pricing system, Salem extended meter time limits to four hours to encourage dining and shopping. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Cheryl Doucette, assistant manager of The Blue Bunny bookstore, says the changes in Dedham Square have been good for small businesses. Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff Although one parking plan does not fit all, many suburbs are turning to parking studies as a way to revitalize their struggling centers.