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


Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

If they are talking about considering bicycle parking any place can take a parking space or two and set it up with bike stands and maybe a small fencing enclosure to promote bicycling to shop/work. This would not be overly costly and if their facts on parking 10 bikes in one space is accurate they would only be losing one or two car parking spaces. If it takes off, then increase the number of spaces for bikes. Many times I have seen bikes parked on the side walk in front of stores; this way would be more secure for them.

Magdalena J.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you!

Charlie Rush
Charlene Rush3 years ago

I can just hear the owners of the parking lots saying,
'Gee, this sounds like a wonderful idea'.

Maria Teresa Schollhorn

Thank you.

Christine Stewart
Christine S3 years ago

We need to create safer bike lanes to encourage biking. There's no way I am riding my bike to work- too many horror stories of distracted drivers mowing down pedestrians on the sidewalk or killing people waiting for a bus...

Dave C.
David C3 years ago

How about going back to making the spaces the size they were before big hulking polluting SUVs came along....and then actually ticket/fine people who choose to park in two spots......

Taylor Story
Taylor Story3 years ago

I don't know if eliminating them completely is going to happen, but we do need to change something.

Karen Ryan
Karen Ryan3 years ago

How true! I always find I enjoy buying lots and lots more when I'm going to be dragging it home on the bus. And the joy of my fellow passengers when I smack them with my purchases makes the inconvenience all worthwhile.

Janet B.
Janet B3 years ago


Christopher Fidoe
Christopher F3 years ago

better and affordable public transport and provision of more drive and ride spaces at Transport Hubs would be a far more practical way to go.