Should We Get Rid of Parking Spaces?
Did you know that the average parking space has enough room for about 10 bicycles?
Streetfilms worked together with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy to produce a video that breaks down all the facts about parking. As the video points out, while all of these parking spaces were intended to improve people’s lives, they have often done the opposite, leading to more congestion and taking up space that could otherwise be used for parks, businesses and beyond.
We live in a car culture, but what this video shows is that through policy that promotes more parking spaces, we have created an even larger car culture. One in which taking alternative transportation to get somewhere can be difficult.
A lot of parking spaces exist because of parking-minimum regulations, which require developers to provide a certain number of parking spaces for every residential or office building that’s built. Those minimums are there because it is assumed that everyone has to drive to get there. What if we started assuming that a percentage of those people weren’t driving?
As cities continue to grow, we can’t continue to work with policies that support our unsustainable car culture. Certainly, many people live in places where they have to use cars. But that shouldn’t stop us from starting to implement more policies that encourage alternative methods of transportation. We should be advocating for more transit and pedestrian-friendly policies, because those types of policies have a positive impact.
As Sarah Goodyear at CityLab reports, “Now, cities around the world are starting to reconsider. London and many other British cities have done away with parking minimums and replaced them with parking maximums. Paris has effectively eliminated minimums in the central city by enacting rules that say developers are not required to build parking if their structures are within 500 meters of a Metro stop, which is true of most of the city’s core.”
If there’s a Metro or bus stop right in front of your place of business, wouldn’t you rather have people taking public transportation to get there instead of arriving by car? There’s a social benefit to that but also an economic one: studies have shown that people who arrive at businesses by foot or bicycle actually end up spending more than those who drive a car.
We shouldn’t start ripping up all parking spaces, but we should start thinking about policies that support the kind of infrastructure where people don’t have to drive as much.
And maybe giving a few parking spaces to bikes every now and again.
Photo Credit: Walmart