Monday, March 5, 2012

Around the block: Parking links 5 March 2012

These recent parking items from around the world are worth a look.  You will notice some striking contrasts. 

Australia:  The Australian Capital Territory ponders the value of the enormous land bank under Canberra's parking lots.

Canada has had a debate about parking prices at hospitals. It was sparked by Rajendra Kale, of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, who called for the abolition of parking fees at hospitals. This commentary takes a wiser approach: "If you offer free parking, why not pay for everyone’s full travel costs (which tend to exceed parking). And why not free daycare or salary replacement when people are in the hospital? And while parking is costly, so too is hospital food. These are not hidden user fees; they are the costs of daily life and the cost of sickness. Of course, that position does not preclude the creation of assistance programs for those who cannot afford parking. ...  If you offer free parking at hospitals, what you do, more than anything, is subsidize parking for well-paid health professionals. And if hospitals open up their lots in urban centres, you can guarantee that the spots will be snapped up by local office workers and shoppers."

India:  Delhi may be close to agreeing on much higher parking fees and different prices for peak and off-peak hours. They could go up from ludicrously cheap to just very cheap. The HIGHEST rate on the table is "Rs 50 for three hours and Rs20 thereafter". Note that, as of today, US$1=Rs50. A final decision is yet to be taken.

Malaysia:  Non-profit group, TRANSIT, responds to a muddled journalist's complaints about Kuala Lumpur's city centre parking "woes". TRANSIT wisely opposes a recent proposal to 'standardise parking rates' in the CBD.

Russia: Astonishingly, parking in the streets of Moscow is free (even in the central area)! Needless to say, this causes numerous negative side-effects. The Mayor of Moscow now says paid parking MAY make a return to the city. But only on an experimental basis. "The task for this year – is to introduce some order with car parking. At present they are parked in rows of two and three. And right under no parking signs, anywhere”.

Sweden: Prices per square metre for some unbundled residential parking rivals that of nearby apartments in posh areas of Stockholm (or so says this article).

Switzerland: Insights into Swiss parking policy: "... at the beginning of the 1990s, Swiss cities started limiting the number of spaces available or turning free and unlimited white zones into limited blue or metered zones. The trend towards fewer parking spaces is increasing. In German-speaking Switzerland, Winterthur, Zurich and Schaffhausen – to name just a few cities – have recently changed the corresponding laws. Geneva is set to finalise its new master plan soon."

USA: Is it the financiers (rather than parking requirements) that largely determine parking supply in America's real estate developments? An interesting claim from Systematic Failure blog. Some commenters see it differently.  Meanwhile, minimum parking requirements have been abolished in downtown Tacoma, WA and Nashville, TN.


Follow me on twitter (@PaulABarter) for more timely parking links (and tweets on a few on other mobility issues).  
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Friday, March 2, 2012

What does conventional parking policy achieve? All too often auto dependence and blight!

What does conventional parking policy achieve? All too often auto dependence and blight!
So, you think rigid minimum parking requirements are harmless? Do you see no need to allow parking supply to be more responsive to context

Today, I want to link to an item that might change your mind. 

This recent item on the Strong Towns blog offers dismaying insights into how parking regulations in the United States blight older areas and help lock suburbia into auto-dependence.

Why would anyone want to emulate that kind of parking policy? Sadly, too many countries (including Indonesia, Malaysia, India and many others) seem determined to try.

Here is an excerpt. But please go read the whole thing
Even though the building was substantially vacant (~85%), with acres of parking spaces lying fallow every single day, since the space had been approved as office space decades ago, it could not be converted to a public assembly use because the peak parking demands of a church were greater than those of an office.

Evidently, the municipality (or, more fairly, the municipality's code) was not aware that churches have their peak demands on weekends and evenings, the exact same times as office uses experience their lowest parking demand. By restricting the uses to only what had been approved decades ago, because of a perceived lack of parking, the municipality was keeping the property from evolving with changing market conditions.

This, coupled with our additional challenges covered above, created a vicious cycle of disinvestment by the private sector. ...

So we see how a municipality's obsession with parking spaces can cause a cycle of private sector disinvestment. Now we will see how this short-sightedness actually wound up costing the municipality much more in the long run.
By the way, there is much more about parking over at the Strong Towns blog. A few examples:
    Parking seems to dominate the core of Brainerd, Minnesota, home of the Strong Towns blog.
    This is what they are up against!
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