Thursday, December 5, 2013

Want more parking? Careful what you wish for!

Want more parking? Careful what you wish for!
The #BlackFridayParking exercise was a striking crowd-sourced effort organized last week by the Strong Towns movement.

It highlighted the absurdly excessive parking supply around suburban retail in the United States. It thereby pokes fun at ludicrous minimum parking requirements.

One of the #BlackFridayParking photos via Strong Towns blog

Latin American cities please take note. South Asian and Southeast Asian cities please take note. Australia and New Zealand please take note. In fact, everywhere with parking minimums please take note! When it comes to parking, be careful what you wish for.

Strong Towns called for photos of retail parking lots on Black Friday to be shared via Twitter under the hashtag #BlackFridayParking.

The parking relevance of Black Friday, the day after the USA holiday of Thanksgiving, arises because this is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year in that country.

Parking requirements (at the centre of the conventional suburban approach to parking policy) aim to match the peak parking demand of the year (or nearly that level). And when is that peak parking demand? Black Friday!

So surely retail parking lots should fill up on Black Friday right? Wrong. 

Please read the Strong Towns blog post that debriefs after the event. It makes numerous excellent points.

And scroll down to the slideshow of photographs from the day. Image after image (70 of them) show huge expanses of empty parking around numerous retail outlets across the USA.

Charles Marohn brings home the key message:
If you want to build a strong town, get rid of your parking minimums. Any chaos that ensues will be healthier for your city than the acres of unproductive, wasted space we have justified with a veneer of professional expertise.
Chaotic on-street parking problems can be managed. Priced public parking can be built if the demand and willingness to pay justify it.

But vast oceans of parking cannot easily be reversed. Multiple underground or podium levels of parking cannot easily be put to better use.

You may think that parking requirements are not really why retailers like Walmart are almost always set in a vast parking lot. 

And you might be right. Here is Charles Marohn on this issue:
Do you think Wal-Mart opposes parking minimums? They may on an individual site here or there, but in general, parking minimums are one of their best advantages. They simultaneously raise the cost of entry for competitors while further tilting the marketplace in favor of businesses catering to people who drive (a segment Wal-Mart dominates). It is a self-reinforcing, downward cycle. If you are pro-biking, pro-walking or pro- transit, you are anti- parking minimums.

Was #BlackFridayParking a scientific exercise? No, of course not. 

It was striking and suggestive but you might say it proves nothing. Presumably the most enthusiastic participants were parking reform supporters who went out looking for empty lots and may have been reluctant to share images of full ones.

Nevertheless, I am assuming for now that what we see here is not too extremely misleading and that plenty of suburban retail locations have very far from full parking, even on Black Friday.

But, you say, there may be other reasons for that empty parking! Perhaps many of the photographed retail outlets may be struggling and in decline. That would help explain it.

But, if that is true, then it would actually highlight another theme of the Strong Towns movement - the economic vulnerability of the car-dependent buildings-set-in-oceans-of-parking development model relative to more traditional patterns of development.

Traditional retail development in town cores can also decline of course. And many town centres across the US are indeed in a sorry state.

Yet, Strong Towns has repeatedly highlighted that even blighted town cores generate value and tax revenue that far exceeds those of even thriving suburban retail strips. Something is wrong with the whole suburban car-dependent model of development.

In any case, parking policy is again central to many of the problems of traditional neighbourhoods. Here is Charles Marohn again:
... For small businesses -- especially a startup -- providing parking is a huge, expensive burden. When the parking required is excessive to the actual needs of the business, a local government is forcing that business owner to allocate scarce capital to unproductive uses. If you are pro- small business, you are anti- parking minimums.
... And parking minimums force some of the most ridiculous land use decisions I have ever seen. An individual wants to take a vacant storefront and open a business but then city hall tells them they need five parking spots. Where do they get that? Well they either don't (likely) or they buy a neighboring property, tear down whatever is on that lot and convert it to financially unproductive parking. This decimates the tax base when it happens and encourages horizontal expansion when it doesn't. If you are pro- environment or if you advocate for a strong, healthy tax base, you are anti- parking minimums.

I would really like to see more exercises like #BlackFridayParking.  

Do you have an idea for a similar event where you are? Please share!
1 comment

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hong Kong has parking minimums AND very expensive parking. How can that be?

Hong Kong has parking minimums AND very expensive parking. How can that be?
I recently stumbled across some information that resolved a Hong Kong parking mystery. Hooray!

Err. You didn't know there was a mystery about Hong Kong parking? I had better explain.

Singapore and Hong Kong both have big reputations for restraining car ownership and car use.

But there is a puzzle.

Singapore's explicit travel demand management (TDM) efforts are much more severe than Hong Kong's, yet they are apparently less effective.

Hong Kong's car ownership (about 60 cars per 1000 people) is much lower than Singapore's (about 110 cars per 1000) and its public transport mode share much higher. Singapore has around 3 times more private car kilometres of travel per person than Hong Kong. (Thanks Jeff Kenworthy - pdf)

Hong Kong's expensive parking is probably part of the answer to this puzzle.

But why does Hong Kong has such expensive parking?

At those densities, of course parking is expensive, you say? High land prices mean expensive parking, right?

Not so fast. High urban densities DON'T always result in high parking prices.

Just look at Mumbai or Cairo. These cities remind us that parking prices can be low even in dense cities with expensive real-estate.

By contrast, there is no doubt that Hong Kong has expensive parking.

It is not just daytime CBD parking that is expensive. Home-based residential parking is usually also very expensive. Part of that may be property speculation. But even so-called bubble-priced parking is still delivering a yield of about 4 percent so speculation is not the whole story.

Even residential parking in the public housing estates is expensive. For example when I looked in 2009, parking for tenants at Lek Yuen Estate in Sha Tin was HK$1,350 (or more than US$170) per month.

OK.  So maybe Hong Kong restricts parking supply as part of its transit-oriented urban transport strategy? 

Um. No again. Hong Kong actually has surprisingly conventional parking policy. 

That is what we found, to our surprise, in the ADB study that led to 'Parking Policy in Asian Cities'. Hong Kong has conventional minimum parking requirements (and no parking maximums).

The minimums are much lower than in the USA but they are higher than those of Japanese cities or Beijing.

Hong Kong parking requirements are actually similar to Singapore's. But mysteriously, Hong Kong parking is much more expensive than Singapore's.

So we do have a mystery here. 

Why are parking prices so high if Hong Kong parking policy now tries to meet "demand"?

Doesn't the conventional approach to parking, with its minimum parking requirements, always pump too much parking into a city?

Based on Hong Kong, the answer seems to be, no, not necessarily. But why not?

I already had a plausible guess before the recent discovery mentioned above. If we assume parking minimums were absent from Hong Kong before a certain date, then market prices for parking could have risen as car ownership rose without parking construction keeping pace.

This was a hyper-dense city after all with rapidly improving mass transit, so developers might happily build with very little parking, I guessed.

Then at some point, we know that Hong Kong did embark on a conventional approach to parking policy. It would have done so with a context of high parking prices and limited parking supply.

Now consider how Hong Kong would have set the new parking minimums. 

They required estimates of parking demand.

But parking demand in Hong Kong was very low when parking minimums were first imposed. This low demand was shaped by pre-existing high parking prices in highly transit-oriented landscapes, not to mention low car ownership.

It seems that the parking minimums were set rather low, based on that low demand. Even for new areas. The prevailing prices seem to have been taken as a given. So the new parking mandates did not exert (much) downward pressure on prices. (There is a longer story here, for another day.)

In addition, don't forget that parking requirements only apply to new development and redevelopment. So, even with Hong Kong's rapidly changing skyline there are still many 1970s buildings around and any injection of new parking supply is gradual.

And Hong Kong uses some flexibility in applying its parking mandates. There are significant reductions in the most transit-oriented locations. Parking supply can be restricted if the traffic impacts would be excessive. Small-scale street-side retail is usually exempt.

So Hong Kong's shift to a more-or-less conventional parking policy didn't cause low parking prices nor excessive supply (as far as I can tell).

But what parking policies came before the current conventional one? 

Without knowing that, I wasn't as certain of the narrative above as I would have liked.

I had assumed that before parking standards were introduced perhaps there had been a laissez faire approach to parking.

This is where the new information mentioned at the beginning of the article comes in.

Hong Kong actually aggressively restricted residential parking supply in the 1970s. It seems to have had strict maximums (at least for residential development) before it had minimums. 

Parking was a key tool, perhaps THE key tool of that period, aimed at restricting car ownership growth.

I hadn't realized this until I stumbled across this insight (under point 2.5) on a site outlining a 1997 complaint about private residential parking from the Hong Kong Consumer Council.
For traffic control purposes, the declared policy of the Government has been to restrain private car ownership. Prior to 1981, the Government attained this by restricting the provision of residential parking spaces. The Government later adopted fiscal measures to restrict the growth in private car ownership.
And, to confirm, here is the relevant Statement of Intent from the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines 1992 edition issued by the Planning Department, explaining the switch to a conventional parking policy and the shift away from restricting parking supply:
Parking standards for residential development were formulated in the light of the introduction of fiscal measures to restrict directly the rate of growth in private vehicle ownership and the abandonment of restraint on car ownership by a restriction of residential parking spaces. The overall intention of the standards is to ensure that, except in special cases, future residential developments should have sufficient parking provision to match the current and anticipated car ownership of residents. Generally, therefore, minimum rather than maximum standards are set. This should enable developers to be aware from outset of the extent of parking provision they can plan.  [My emphasis]
So parking supply was deliberately restricted with housing built in 1970s especially and up until 1981. 

And the impact of this would have been large, since there must have been a huge amount of residential construction in the 1970s.

Hong Kong's population rose from 3,995,400 in 1970 to 5,109,812 in 1981. And the 1970s was (mostly) a time of rapid economic growth in Hong Kong. So a large increment of Hong Kong housing took place with very low rates of parking.

I don't have the full story but I suspect that this policy began in the early 1970s. But even before that I imagine that most high-rise housing in Hong Kong was built with little or no parking, since car ownership was tiny in that era.

Why does all this matter? I can think of several reasons. Can you? 

But for now just let me summarize how the points in this post have helped clear up the puzzle about Singapore versus Hong Kong.

As mentioned at the top of this post, it is surprising that although Singapore's car restrictions are more severe than Hong Kong's, car ownership and use in Singapore are much higher.

Part of the answer is Hong Kong's extreme urban density (about 3 times Singapore's) which helps enable excellent public transport service levels.

But Hong Kong's expensive parking must also be important. And I had assumed expensive parking was a result of conscious and current policy in Hong Kong.

But that assumption was shaken by finding that Hong Kong's parking policies today are conventional with parking minimums, and little different from Singapore's. Contemporary parking policy in Hong Kong couldn't explain its high parking prices.

How perplexing.

But now I think I understand how Hong Kong can have parking minimums AND very expensive parking.  Any objections? 

No comments

Friday, November 22, 2013

Parking minimums in TODs (part 1)

Parking minimums in TODs (part 1)
How much parking should be required in a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) zone?

And is there a formula related to density or other parameters?

Part of ITDP India's Poster on Transit Oriented Development
These were questions from Mumbai in India a couple of weeks ago, via email and on the Shoupista facebook group.

Zero is the answer I prefer. 

Regular readers will know that I tend to argue for zero parking requirements EVERYWHERE, not just in transit-rich locations. And remember, a zero parking minimum is not a war on cars and does not necessarily mean there will be zero parking.

But YOUR answer to this TOD parking question will depend on your approach (or the approach that you have to work with wherever you are).   

So let's discuss the possibilities, paying special attention to the mindsets on parking behind each approach.

1.  "Right-sizing parking"

The 'conventional suburban' approach to parking fears parking spillover more than it fears excessive parking supply. It sets parking minimums based on peak parking demand at isolated, suburban sites. The result is very high parking requirements.

When applied without exception across the landscape these are a bane of TOD efforts.

So one obvious tweak for Transit Oriented Development zones is to 'Right Size' the parking standards to better match the actual (lower) demand that can be expected in such locations.

Notice something about the mindset here?

This adjustment to parking minimums doesn't question the key assumption of the conventional approach. Every site is still expected to have 'enough' parking.

So this is an approach to TOD zone parking that remains firmly within the conventional parking policy mindset.

This approach requires parking demand investigations for various contexts, including TOD zones.

Examples of such studies that were pointed to in the Shoupistas forum include:
1) A study at UC Davis (led by Dr. Susan Handy) for the California Department of Transportation to develop an adjustment equation for sites in "smart-growth" areas. A user-friendly Excel spreadsheet tool is available from the website. 
2) A study at Portland State University (led by Dr. Kelly Clifton) developed a method to account for differences in trip generation across a range of urban contexts using Portland metropolitan area data.
Do you know of similar efforts elsewhere? Does your city adjust its parking standards to suit TODs?

Something like this seems also to be common in Europe (outside inner-city areas), although with much lower parking demand (and therefore minimums) than in the USA. Examples include Zurich (mentioned in ITDP's European U-Turn report) and Munich.

Again, please notice that this approach to TOD parking is conservative.

It is still in the "conventional" box in the matrix of parking mindsets shown above. It doesn't try to force any change in demand, or even to encourage parking pricing or unbundling. It just tries to avoid forcing too much parking.

So what are the approaches to parking in TOD zones if you have a Parking Management mindset or a Responsive parking mindset?

I will save those for another post.
No comments

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Unglamorous Secret to Parking Success

The Unglamorous Secret to Parking Success
This secret is not sexy but it has to be done.

Not that I have anything against sexy. Amazing new technology is opening exciting parking policy horizons. I love the high tech parking innovations that:
  • enable cheap and comprehensive parking space usage monitoring; 
  • make paying for parking easier and lower cost; 
  • reduce cost and practical barriers to the pricing of parking; 
  • reduce enforcement costs, making enforcement less patchy and capricious; 
  • allow the booking of spaces; 
  • enable real-time parking information for users; and 
  • allow operators to optimise prices and management. 

But this post is about something more FUNDAMENTAL, something every city needs BEFORE getting too excited about technology.


Effective On-Street Parking Management is the Secret Key to Parking Success 

It is not really a 'secret' of course. But many jurisdictions do their best to ignore the obvious.

And I don't really blame them.

Getting 'good enough' control of on-street parking seems like mundane stuff. It can be politically painful. The many winners hardly thank you but the much less numerous losers complain loudly and bitterly. Success usually requires reforming hide-bound institutions. It lacks ribbons for politicians to cut. The results can take time.

Most on-street parking in Mumbai is free-of-charge and almost unmanaged. 
But there is no escaping the need to knuckle down and get it done. Every city needs to establish at least the basics of effective on-street parking management.

I was in Mumbai recently, and this was a key theme that came up over and over.

Crisis is beginning to open eyes in Mumbai I think.

But in too many cities on every continent local leaders hope to avoid tackling the thorny challenge of on-street parking.

They hope that requiring lots of off-street parking will help. They hope that building public parking structures will cure their parking problems.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work. You have to tackle on-street parking!

Creating off-street parking is a slow and expensive business. And off-street parking does not magically vacuum parking off the streets.

All over the world, we find case after case of underutilized off-street parking next to chaotic and saturated parking in the streets.

If the on-street parking remains unmanaged then it will remain chaotic, whether there is off-street parking nearby or not.

The only way to fix on-street parking problems is on-street parking management.

Actually, I am exaggerating slightly. Focusing on off-street parking supply CAN work in certain cases.

What cases?

If a city follows the American suburban example and spends decades applying car-oriented guidelines ruthlessly to every aspect of transport and urban planning, while also investing massively in roads, and is lucky enough to also have robust economic growth throughout those decades, then perhaps off-street supply can solve its parking problem.

But is this 'cure' worse than the disease? If you follow that path, you will end up with sprawling automobile dependent metropolitan areas and inner cities that have hollowed out to make way for parking. You may have solved your parking problem but is that really your vision for your city?

And is following a totally car-dependent path really even an option for most cities?

So for most cities with on-street chaos, the answer is to focus first on on-street management.

Even if you really really think you need off-street supply, focus FIRST on getting control of on-street parking.

On-street pricing improves the willingness to pay for off-street parking. So efficient parking management on the streets will actually make your off-street parking facilities more financially viable.

Information gleaned from on-street management will also help you to make these investments in the right places.

Efficient on-street pricing can easily nudge long-stay employee parking towards off-street parking options or towards parking on less overburdened streets. Since these vehicles are there all day, moving them away from problem streets makes a huge difference.

So, even if you are convinced you need more parking, please make on-street parking management your FIRST step, before adding to parking capacity.

What does it take to achieve the unglamorous secret? 

At the very least, these steps are important:

  • Establish clear rules and communicate with clarity where and when parking is legal or illegal
  • Build enforcement capacity (with supporting institutions)
  • Establish a trustworthy system for levying parking fees per unit of time (per minute or per hour for example)
  • Establish at least basic parking data collection capacities (initially very simple inventory and occupancy surveys for problem areas are enough, with duration surveys if possible)


Please share YOUR stories of local governments biting the bullet and tackling on-street parking chaos!

1 comment

Monday, October 7, 2013

Is 30% of traffic actually searching for parking?

Is 30% of traffic actually searching for parking?
San Francisco Examiner headline asked that question recently.  (Hat tip Parking Today blog)

Should you care if you are not in San Francisco? Yes! That motorists searching for parking can add greatly to congestion is a very widely used argument for improved on-street parking management, especially performance pricing.

To be precise, the Examiner article questions "the statistic that 30 percent of all congestion in the City is caused by frustrated drivers circling the block for that elusive parking space."

Err. Thirty percent of traffic is not the same as thirty percent of congestion.

But, either way, does the SF Examiner article have a good point? Is this a gotcha moment for that 30% thing?

Wait a minute! Let's take a step back first.

My first reaction upon skimming the article was to say the article is holding up a straw man to easily knock him down.

Is anyone really claiming 30% of urban congestion (or traffic) is cruising for parking? 

Not me. Not Donald Shoup.

How much of this traffic (in Seoul in this case) is actually searching for parking?

Donald Shoup is the original source of this "30% of traffic" talk. Did he claim that 30 percent of congestion is due to parking search traffic?  Not exactly. Here he is in 2011:
Sixteen studies conducted between 1927 and 2001 found that, on average, 30 percent of the cars in congested downtown traffic were cruising for parking.  [my emphasis]

I can see how this morphed into a more general claim. But notice that he qualifies the "30% of traffic" with "of congested downtown traffic".

Why did he do that? Because the studies he is citing have that specific focus.

They can't and don't claim to measure the share of ALL traffic or all congestion that arises from parking search. As Shoup says in Chapter 11 of his magnum opus on parking policy reform, The High Cost of Free Parking (p.291):
The studies are selective because researchers study cruising where they expect to find it - on streets where curb parking is under-priced and overcrowded. 

From the sixteen studies, there were six measurements of the percentage of traffic that is seeking parking. The results ranged from 8 to 74%, for that average of 30%.   [By the way, thirteen of the studies generated another number that highlights the cumulative costs of cruising for parking, the average time spent by each motorist on the parking search (an average of 8.1 minutes in case you were wondering). Some studies yielded both numbers.]

All six estimates were from major business districts in urban cores:
  • Detroit, USA 1927 A:  DOWNTOWN location between 2 and 6 pm (presumably on a weekday). Found 22% of traffic was 'cruising for parking').
  • Detroit 1927 B:  DOWNTOWN location between 2 and 6 pm. Found 34% as cruising percentage.
  • New Haven, USA 1960: CBDs of New Haven and Waterbury, Connecticut, with three study times (quiet summer period, average November period, and pre-Christman rush period). Calculated that at least 17% of CBD traffic was parking search traffic. 
  • Freiburg, Germany 1977: CENTRAL Freiburg, with 74% of 800 tracked cars estimated to be searching for parking. 
  • Cambridge, Mass., USA 1985: Harvard Square BUSINESS DISTRICT, 10 am to 3:30pm (hence covering the lunch peak), estimating that 30% of cars were cruising fro parking. 
  • New York, USA 1993: MID-TOWN, West Side, 8-10am and 11am-2pm, finding 8% of traffic was searching for parking. 

The point of all of this is NOT the 30% average! 

The point is to highlight that, parking search traffic is potentially a very big deal in CERTAIN IMPORTANT CIRCUMSTANCES.  

What circumstances? When on-street parking is badly managed and saturated, so that we get lots of search traffic (and waiting and double parking too).

That is how I have always understood the talk about parking search traffic being a significant percentage of traffic.

Shoup himself was cautious in the book about making too much of the specific numbers from the studies he cites (p.291):
But these studies dating back to 1927 are mainly of historical interest. The data were probably not very accurate when they were collected, and the results depended on the time of day, the specific place, and the season when the observations were made. 

Nevertheless, these studies do show that parking search is potentially an enormous source of congestion and unnecessary traffic in busy business districts when on-street parking is mismanaged so that it is often totally full.

As Shoup goes on to say (p.291):
But because curb parking is underpriced and overcrowded in the busiest parts of most of the world's big cities, the sun never sets on cruising. 

More recent investigations in New York City commissioned by Transportation Alternatives confirmed that parking search CAN be a huge share of traffic in busy areas. 

In 2006, on Prince Street in Soho (pdf) on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday afternoons/evenings, they found an average of 28% of intercepted motorists (at traffic lights) were looking for parking in the area. On Saturdays the share was 41%!

In 2007, in Park Slope, Brooklyn (pdf), they looked at four periods (weekday peak, two weekday moderate times, and weekend peak) and found overall 45% of traffic was cruising for parking.

So, like the studies cited by Shoup, both of these NYC studies focused on problem places at problem times.

We can't extrapolate to a general claim about shares of traffic. But again they highlight how extreme parking search traffic CAN BE.

But let's get back to the San Francisco Examiner. Does the article have a good point or not?

Sadly, maybe it does. I thought it was bashing a straw man, but no.

There really has been some fast and loose talk about the 30 percent thing.

It was challenging SFPark claims in particular. So I looked for some and found this:
“Circling for parking accounts for approximately 30 percent of San Francisco’s congestion,” said Tom Nolan, Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors. 

SFPark is San Francisco's Performance Pricing trial. It has not been as controversial as many expected. Nevertheless, questioning a key SFPark claim makes good news copy.

SFPark said the claim was based on Donald Shoup's book. There hasn't been a specific study of this in San Francisco.

So I have to agree that it is a misleading claim.

What is true is that, based on the Shoup-cited studies, parking search is very likely to account for a lot of San Francisco congestion.

But no-one currently knows how much of San Francisco's congestion (or traffic) arises from cruising for parking.

Sorry SFPark. 

And I gather SFPark is not alone. Various others may have been getting a bit too attached to that specific 30% statistic, taking it as gospel, and using it in sloppy ways.

By the way, it is easy to see how this happens. Quoted statistics, especially startling ones like this, tend to harden with time and distance from their origins.

Donald Shoup's statement that parking search traffic was found in certain studies "to be on average 30% of congested downtown traffic" or my statement in a recent presentation, that parking search traffic is "often 30% or more" could easily become misleading if quoted beyond their original contexts discussing situations with badly mismanaged on-street parking.

And with repeated mentions of that 30% figure, it seems to have morphed into a misleadingly precise and general claim about the percentage of overall traffic or congestion being due to parking search. And then, even more misleadingly, it was then claimed to apply to a specific place again, like San Francisco. Oops.

What is the bottom line here?

It would be annoying if debunking the sloppy use of this 30% average undermines the important point that:
cruising for parking CAN cause a huge mess in busy areas, at busy times, when parking is mismanaged. 

This point is still valid and not undermined by the discussion above. Parking saturation certainly causes traffic congestion (and other problems).

How much exactly? Well, it depends. Do your own little study in the context you are interested in.

But potentially it is a LOT.  Much more than was widely realized before Donald Shoup came along.

Pity about that 30 percent figure, though.





6 comments

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Does downtown need more parking?

Does downtown need more parking?
How many times have you heard a claim like "our city centre needs more parking"?

I hear it again and again in cities with a conventional approach to parking policy.

Take Hamilton* in Ontario, Canada. Its policy makers seem keen on more downtown parking supply even when, by their own reckoning, a parking shortage is way off in the future!

This post will focus on Hamilton but this same issue is a live one in thousands of cities all over the world. So even if you are not from Hamilton, read on!

[UPDATE: I now see that the Hamilton blog "Raise the Hammer" has commented along very similar lines: see Live and Don't Learn, Downtown Parking Edition and Downtown Parking Study Recommends More Parking]

Downtown Hamilton (Image via Wikimedia Commons user Nhl4hamilton)
I really wish more cities would at least consider other questions first. 

Questions such as, is that parking problem really a shortage problem? Or, could price adjustments help here? Could travel demand management? Are there solutions that are more cost-effective than building more parking? And, is more city-centre parking really in line with our city's vision for the future?

Anyway, let's get back to Hamilton.

Tipped off by the Parking Today Facebook page, I see that Hamilton's manager of parking operations is pushing for another downtown parking garage after a study found that:
new commercial and residential construction in the downtown core over the past decade has led to a potential shortage of parking in the future, and a parking garage with 500 spaces would help alleviate those parking pressures.
This is the news item's words not the actual report. But it would be telling about their thinking if the report frames the issue as 'shortage' with no mention of the potential to modify demand or to see upward pressure on market prices.

The parking manager also frames the problem as 'shortage', and despite pushing for more supply, he is quoted as saying:
There's no urgent need right now. We're just planning for the future and the potential shortage we'll face.
In the same article I see this:
There are currently 13,109 spaces available for public parking in the area bordered by Cannon Street to the north, Queen Street to the west, Wellington Street to the east and Hunter Street to the south ... The report found that the peak time for parking in Hamilton is 11 a.m., when 68 per cent of spaces are utilized. 
It looks like there is actually considerable spare parking capacity in the area!

So where exactly is the problem?
... And downtown intersections at King and Bay Streets and King William and John Streets were singled out as particularly 'high demand parking areas'. Parking in those two areas regularly exceeds 85 per cent, and the report suggests that the garage should be built near one of those locations.
OK. So let's take a look at these specific problem locations using google maps.
Here is the area around John and King William in Hamilton. Lots of surface parking.
The King and Bay Streets area in Hamilton. More surface parking.
Here is the google street view southwards along Bay St from its intersection with King.

Is more parking supply really the best Hamilton can think of for improving these downtown places? They seem already to be mostly open lot parking. 

Hamilton's manager of parking operations was also quoted as saying:
To have a vibrant area, you need parking. Not 100 per cent of the people headed to the core will walk, or take a bus or ride a bike.
Wow. What a comment. It sounds like he has already decided the supply option is the right one.

Is more parking really going to make such parking-dominated locations any more vibrant?

And suggesting that opponents of extra supply need '100 per cent' of people to shift to other modes is a nice easy straw man to knock down.  He is wrong to pooh-pooh the potential for reducing parking demand.

Of course, not everyone will change modes. But SOME will, even in a place like Hamilton, even with relatively mild and moderate parking policy changes.

And anyway, he is making the false assumption that managing parking demand is only about shifting people to 'walk, or take the bus or ride a bike'.

In fact, managing and pricing parking is ALSO about nudging parking demand around in other ways that do not necessarily involve a shift in mode choices. 

For example, what could we expect in Hamilton's problem areas if Performance Pricing were tried. Some motorists would park for slightly less time, increasing turnover. Some would park a little further from their destination, easing pressure on those problem spots. Valet options might emerge. Some will share a car rather than have each member of a group drive separately to a meeting or lunch.  Some employees will choose off-street facilities rather than shifting their cars around in the streets.

To achieve at least some reduction in parking demand, we don't actually need to shift anyone to other modes or reduce total demand for trips in cars. Of course, mode shifts would also help but they are just part of the story.

So has Hamilton already maxed out on parking pricing and management? Has it done everything else it could cost-efficiently do so that more parking supply is the only option?

Let's take a superficial little look at some of Hamilton's downtown parking management features as highlighted on their website.
  • Parking meter rates are C$1.00 per hour.
  • The average daily rate in Hamilton municipal car parks is C$5.58 compared to the Canadian average of C$13.77.
  • There are several municipal car parks with rates as low as C$0.50 per hour.
  • There are several car parks with a Daily Rate of only C$4.00.
  • There is FREE on-street parking from November 24th to December 24th.

Hmm.  This does NOT look to me like a city that has exhausted its other parking policy options, such as pricing and other management tools.

It sounds to me like a city centre stuck in a rut of conventional parking policy assumptions. Expanding supply seems to be the first tool they are reaching for.

Now I have never been to Hamilton or its downtown. In fact, in my adult life I haven't been to Canada. But based on the information I see here, it seem obvious to me that Hamilton should give more intensive management and pricing of parking a try before resorting to building extra parking.

Does all this sound familiar from your city?

*  In case you are wondering, Hamilton is the core of a metropolitan area of 0.75 million. It is near Toronto and can be considered part of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area of more than 6 million people. 
6 comments

Monday, September 9, 2013

Which cities have abolished parking minimums?

Which cities have abolished parking minimums?
[UPDATE: We need to add São Paulo to the list.]

Abolishing parking minimums is a key element of Shoupista parking reform and of Adaptive Parking.

So I often get asked to name places that have abolished parking minimums parking requirements.

Including cities that now have no minimums  in their city centre would yield a long list.

But in The Shoupistas Facebook group, Stuart Donovan (who wrote a guest post here not so long ago) asks about more ambitious reforms:
I'm looking for examples of cities/places that have removed minimum parking requirements in a relatively comprehensive manner. By "comprehensive" I mean they have removed minimums from more than simply in the city centre. Can anyone point me to some good examples? London's the only one I have right now.
My very short answer is this:  various cities in England and some in Germany have comprehensively abolished parking minimums. 

But below the fold you will find a much longer answer.

The English parking standards story required a lot of sniffing around. I have some open questions on the German situation. And both Paris and Japan get little mentions even though they have not really repealed their parking minimums.

London is a prominent example of comprehensive parking minimum abolition.
Photo by Flckr user wirewiping (some rights reserved)

7 comments

Friday, August 9, 2013

Parking? You work on parking? Why?

Parking? You work on parking? Why?
My professional life is dominated by parking these days.

Parking!? 

I often get asked, why parking? It strikes many people as an odd thing to focus on.

One cute answer is Donald Shoup's quip that he likes to focus on the 95% of the time cars spend parked not the 5% they spend moving.

But let's be serious. Why DO I work on parking policy? What motivates all this effort? Here are some thoughts.  

This is where my primary school used to be. Now it is parking for a regional shopping centre (Westfield Marion and a Bunnings hardware store in the middle southern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia).
It is not a business or career thing.

I do indeed now offer consultancy services on parking policy! But making a living was not my motivation to get involved when I was a full-time academic. Even now, when consulting is part of my livelihood, doing business is not what gets me up in the morning.

So what does drive my obsession with parking?

I think I started with dismay with the way parking policy is done now and about the scale and seriousness of its impacts, which are much greater than I had realized.

But it was HOPE that really got me moving.

Dismay wasn't enough. I have been working on policy reform in urban transport for a long time. But parking always seemed too depressing, with reform having little chance politically.

But in 2007 or so, things changed. After reading Donald Shoup and Todd Litman on parking, I began to get involved in the issue and quickly became much more optimistic. Living in Singapore helped too perhaps. Its unusual transport policies expanded the range of what seemed possible, allowing me to think more boldly.

More on my hope-related motivations below. But first, let's take a closer look at my DISMAY over parking policy. 

An obvious motivation is the almost unbelievable wrongness of conventional parking policy, all over the world.
The appalling amount of parking-related waste and unfairness makes me angry and a little sad. Surely we can do better!
Read Sightline's ongoing series on parking for an entertaining romp through the ludicrous, unjust and costly extremes of North American parking policy.  
Parking problems are both serious and acute in too many places.
Communities everywhere want help to deal with all that mayhem. Parking is vexing for motorists and for people moving by other means.
But the usual answer, the conventional approach, doesn't help much and just feeds the car-dependence beast. It creates new ills, chronic ones, that are worse than the original acute disease.
There is a desperate need for parking policies that solve the acute problems. But we are asking for trouble unless these short-term fixes also point towards sustainable longer-term solutions. 
Beijing's pre-2000 neighbourhoods are plagued by parking

The world's stock of urban fabric is expanding like fury (especially across Asia) but business-as-usual parking policy for all that new building would be a disaster.
The scale and speed of the expansion of the global urban fabric is incredible. As Enrique Peñalosa tweeted on 5 January (citing this column), 'Over next 12 years world will build 90% of today´s world wide total of residential floor space...almost double!'
Excessive minimum parking requirements for all that new development will be incredibly wasteful and destructive if past experience is any guide. Failing to do better than that would be a huge missed opportunity. But reform needs to come quickly. Otherwise, conventional parking policy will create traffic disasters in ever more emerging cities and doom them to either auto-dependence or traffic saturation.  
Parking policy debates are full of confusion
Such as the idea that parking reform is a "war on cars" or that reforming parking minimums always means imposing restrictions on parking or that parking is a public good. 
I am not sneering here. Parking policy is indeed often deeply confusing.
A key cause of confusion is that there are several completely different mindsets on parking out there, each with its own assumptions. So a lot of parking discussions flounder with each side baffled. 

These reasons for dismay are striking. But they are not motivating enough. They are depressing.

To muster enthusiasm for the issue I needed some reassurance that we could really do better. I needed HOPE! I would not be doing this without my optimism that parking reform is helping and that it has huge potential.

So let's look at my hopes about parking policy. 

Parking reform offers enormous scope for improvement, which should yield large benefits.
This is the first dismay motivation above turned on its head. When current practice is so dramatically unfair and wasteful, surely the rewards from reform will be large. This hope lets me redirect my anger into action.
Walter Hook of ITDP has called parking reform ITDP's highest priority at the moment and the next big thing in the struggle for socially equitable and sustainable transport. 
Parking reform offers hope for easing existing automobile dependence.
It won't be easy, I know. In countries with car-oriented planning, even where communities want wider mobility options, the conventional approach to parking policy often stands in the way. It is a key pillar that reinforces automobile dependence, and is politically resilient, despite being based on the fear of a minor, preventable problem (spillover).
But a movement for suburban retrofitting is building. And I see signs that parking reform will be an important part of the process of 'melting' the car-dependence of suburban centres of activity. I am hopeful that ideas like Adaptive Parking can play some role. 
Gathering momentum on parking reform and new opportunities
It is slow, frustratingly slow. It might even seem boring to anyone not already interested in parking. But change, maybe momentous change, seems to be coming. 
Technological change, much hard-won experience with parking management, and an upsurge in enthusiasm and interest are opening up new opportunities.
One stream of parking reform energy has been inspired by the work of Donald Shoup. 'Shoupista' ideas are emerging all over the place. My effort, Adaptive Parking, is also an example.
A wave of parking reform seems to be gathering momentum and not just in rich, western countries. Some, such as Brazil or Malaysia, are steeped in conventional parking policy. But numerous newly motorizing cities, such as many in China and India, have not yet jacked up their parking requirements to ridiculous levels. They have a great chance now to shift away from that path.
The key will be improved on-street parking management. Mexico City's efforts in the Polanco district (with ITDP help) are an excellent example with lessons for cities everywhere.   
Slowly, the parking policy choices are getting clearer.
This is the optimistic twin of the confusion motivation mentioned above. It is difficult to debate the merits of policy through the fog.
If you really want parking policies I disagree with, go ahead, but choose them for good reasons (even if I disagree with them) and not out of misunderstandings or muddled thinking. Fortunately, I think the fog of confusion is slowly being blown away, enough to make some progress at least.
The message is slowly getting out that the conventional approach, based on cheap parking and high parking minimum requirements, is not the only option.
More now understand that there is a range of options. A shift away from conventional parking policy does not necessarily mean you have to use parking to squeeze car traffic. Reform does not have to wait for excellent mass transit.
Reform can be about reclaiming a wider range of mobility and development options, many of which have been cut off by conventional parking regulations. We should be able to actively choose the cities we want, rather than being stuck in a rut because of rigid regulations and muddled fears. This is one of the ideas behind Adaptive Parking. It is about getting the parking policy choice architecture right.

Are you keen on parking reform? Tell us YOUR motivations!
2 comments

Friday, August 2, 2013

Two-wheeler parking can be very very space-efficient!

Two-wheeler parking can be very very space-efficient!
More than TEN times more space-efficient than car parking, in fact.

I measured this for myself in Indonesia recently.

I have mentioned before that, in some countries, cars take ten times the parking space as motorcycles. This means charging motorised two-wheelers parking charges 1/2 the four-wheeler rate (as is common in Asia) seems rather unfair.

It also means that Park-and-Ride for motorcycles (or bicycles of course!) is much, much, MUCH more space-efficient than Park-and-Ride for cars (about which I often urge great caution).

Indian cities considering park-and-ride at mass transit stations please take note!

Look at this diagram.


It shows measurements from Bogor (done with help from Aldi and Qi from GIZ SUTIP).

The results:

  • 14 marked car spaces on 266  square metres of asphalt (19 square metres per car) and 
  • 56 motorcycles parked on 90 square metres of asphalt (1.6 square metres per motorcycle).

We did not measure space for turning at the end of aisles. This is much larger for cars obviously, so these results underestimate the difference between motorcycles and cars. On the other hand, you might argue that cars in Indonesia tend to be larger than in most countries and that their motorcycles are typically small.

Anyway, clearly the space-efficiency difference is dramatic. It is huge!

[Update 3 August: We should also adjust for the different occupancy rates of cars and motorcycles, of course. But this makes less difference than you might think. Peak-hour car occupancy across many countries is typically around 1.3. Park-and-ride trips may have higher occupancy or lower, I am not sure, but 1.3 is probably a fair guess. Motorcycle occupancy data is scarce but cannot be less than 1.0 in this case, obviously. Assuming occupancies of 1.3 and 1.0, the ratio of park-and-ride space efficiencies above is still more than 9.]


The park-and-ride lot at Bogor railway station on a Monday morning.  
Bogor is about 60 km south of central Jakarta. It is a terminus for the Jakarta metropolitan region's electric suburban rail system which offers a fast (but very crowded) commuting option for people working in central Jakarta.

A nearby street is also crammed with motorcycle park-and-ride businesses charging a little less than the official lot.


What about bicycles? They are obviously space-efficient with various numbers claimed as the bicycle to car ratio. I didn't measure it but this scene from Tokyo suggests that bicycle parking can be about as space efficient as motorcycle parking, and maybe more efficient.



Paid bicycle parking at a Tokyo subway station.






5 comments

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"I'll just leave this speedboat here"

A shout out today to a parking item from UK transport psychologist, Ian Walker.

It is from 2008 but it is a gem.
I've got a really big wooden crate -- it's a little over 4 metres long and just under 2 metres wide -- and it won't fit in my house. I'm the only person who gets any benefit from my having this crate -- indeed, my ownership of the crate is actually bad for you. I didn't really care about the fact I had nowhere to keep the crate when I bought it; I wanted it and so I got it anyway. So now, because it won't fit in my house, I'm just going to leave it in the street. It'll block half of the road, but so what? I need somewhere to keep my crate and that's where it's going.
If you heard me say this, you would quite rightly brand me a selfish bastard who deserves to be beaten soundly with rolled-up copies of the Daily Mail until I learnt a little civic responsibility. But hold fast! What if, instead of a crate, it was a saloon car I was talking about? A car has exactly the same dimensions as my crate, but you'd think absolutely nothing of my saying "I don't have anywhere to store my car and I knew this when I bought it, but I'm just going to leave it in the street where it'll block half the road".
A good start, I thought!

Later there is this:
Because here's the question: why should I be allowed to own a car if I have nowhere to store it?
Here he could have mentioned Japan and its "proof of parking" law.
I am not permitted the same freedom to store anything else on the road. If I own a caravan, or a speedboat on a trailer, I am obliged to have off-road storage facilities for it. If I want to place a skip outside my house when doing building work I have to take great care that this hazard is brightly lit and removed as soon as possible. These are all relevant comparisons, as skips, caravans and speedboats on trailers are all are more-or-less the same size and construction as a car.
BTW, a "skip" is a "dumpster" if you speak North American.

No further comment required for now. But please do go and read the whole post. It is entertaining.

1 comment

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Three mindsets on parking pared to their basic assumptions

Three mindsets on parking pared to their basic assumptions
Today, I want to highlight a key point from my June 4th talk in Bogotá (the talk that was mentioned in the previous post).

[scroll down to see the whole presentation, via SlideShare]


The presentation had two parts.

The second part shared my views on some key parking policy choices, chosen for their current relevance in Bogotá. For more on that, see the slideshow below.

The first part discussed the three drastically different parking policy 'paradigms', which is what I want to talk about now.

Wait! You thought there were only two main parking approaches? Think again.

The matrix above sums up the basis of my "three paradigms" point. It is my latest attempt to be clear about the key distinctions between these three paradigms.  You can see previous efforts, hereherehere and here.

I am asserting that these two questions capture the key distinctions between the three main ways to do parking policy. So changing how we do parking policy requires changing how we THINK about parking.  

Notice that parking is "infrastructure"* in BOTH the much-maligned but ever-popular "conventional suburban" approach (with its excessive minimum parking requirements) AND its main rival, the "parking management" mindset (in which parking is actively managed for various policy goals especially in busy parts of older inner-city areas).

But these two mindsets differ over whether to see parking as a site-by-site thing or as something that serves a whole neighbourhood.

Both "market-oriented" approaches (like Shoupista thinking and Adaptive Parking proposals) and "parking management" see parking spaces as serving neighbourhoods, not specific sites.

Only "market-oriented" thinking sees parking as a "real-estate based service" (like meeting rooms or basic dining spaces) rather than "infrastructure".

The box at the bottom left is empty because it is hard to imagine treating parking as a (potentially commercial) real-estate based service while also insisting that a site's parking demand must be met by its own on-site supply and vice versa. This may sometimes happen but there is no parking policy paradigm based on this.

If these comments seem perplexing, I would encourage you to follow the links. Most will send you to my previous posts on this issue, which provide more detail. And the Bogotá presentation itself might also help a little.

Here is the whole presentation (via slideshare).  If you can't see it, then you can find a downloadable version here



What do you think?

NOTE:
*  'Infrastructure' is actually a rather fuzzy and poorly defined term. But I am using it anyway. It captures the idea of physical facilities requiring significant investment and which are believed to require strong government intervention and planning, so that their provision cannot be left to markets.
3 comments

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Parking minimums in Latin America

Parking minimums in Latin America
A titbit today from an excellent new parking policy guide for Latin America that was launched last week in Bogotá, Colombia.

If you follow this blog, you recently saw how extreme USA parking requirements can be, forcing excessive parking to be provided with most buildings. Long-time readers might also remember my surprise that most Asian cities also have parking minimums, albeit less extreme than in the US. An increasing number of places are totally abolishing their parking minimums, of course, including the UK, Berlin, and many city centres in many countries.

What about Latin American cities? The new parking guide provides some data.


The Y axis portrays the area (in square metres) of commercial space per required parking space in a 'typical' commercial development. So the green cities low on the graph have high parking requirements. The blue ones high on the graph have lower parking minimums.

I prefer to express parking minimums as parking spaces required per 100 square metres of floor space (in other words, the inverse of the graph above), which is how I will discuss these figures below.

By the way, the X axis is car ownership and it is there to give a simple clue to the wider transport-system context for these parking regulations. For example, if car ownership were tiny in some city, you would not be surprised by very low parking minimums.

Let's get more international perspective on these numbers. 

Mexico, Brazil and Chile are revealed to have North American-style parking requirements for their commercial buildings.  These cities require around two or four or even more parking spaces required for every 100 square metres of floor space. In Asia, Malaysia and Thailand are in this league. Such requirements steadily build automobile dependence into the landscape, new building by new building.

By contrast the cities from Colombia and Argentina have much more moderate parking minimums for commercial buildings, requiring much less than one space per 100 square metres of floor space. In Asia, similar minimums tend to apply in Hong Kong, Singapore, PRC China, Taiwan and Korea (but Japan's parking minimums are even lower than these, and more flexible in exempting small buildings). Such minimums are less of a shove towards auto-dependence obviously. But don't forget that even modest parking requirements can still inflict harm, by undermining development of small sites, raising infill development costs relative to greenfield, and by inhibiting redevelopment in old areas for example.

By the way, as I also found in Asia, the comparisons for residential parking minimums in Latin America are a completely different story. They can wait for another day.

More on the source of this data

This graphic is from page 84 of Guía Práctica Estacionamiento y Políticas de Reducción de Congestión en América Latina (Practical guide to parking and policies to reduce congestion in Latin America).

The guide has just been published by the Inter-american Development Bank (IDB) and was prepared by Colombia's Despacio and by ITDP. It is currently only in Spanish but I believe Portuguese and English versions are coming.

I was lucky enough to be at the launch event as a speaker. All the presentations from the event are HERE (some in English, some in Spanish).

Some good news from the event. Bogotá is actually proposing to abolish its parking minimums! I am looking forward to hear if the proposal goes through. I hope discussions at the seminar provided encouragement.


Did you like this post? Then click here to get Reinventing Parking by Email!

5 comments

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

America's extreme parking requirements

America's extreme parking requirements
A new parking blog, Graphing Parking, has launched with three amazing posts providing perspective on the minimum parking requirements that apply across numerous US cities. They reveal with stunning clarity the extreme nature of parking minimums in the USA.

With the tagline, 'accessible parking wonkery', it is the work of architect, Seth Goodman.

The new blog has a focus on 'infographics that are expository, accessible  and accurate' and the first three posts certainly live up to that aim.

Here is a striking example: parking requirements for restaurants. The typical American restaurant is required to provide on-site much much more space for parking than actual restaurant space!

Parking requirements for restaurants in USA cities
The other two initial posts show residential and office requirements.

Note that the data are mostly for the municipalities at the cores of US metropolitan areas. Suburban local governments tend to set higher parking requirements than core urban ones.

Don't expect perfection. Comparing parking requirements is surprisingly complicated. So I would not be surprised if a few mistakes emerge. But Seth provides a list of all his sources as a useful resource and for fact-checking.

A huge amount of meticulous detective work has gone into the first three posts. As I said, this is difficult stuff, so Seth says he is open to your input to help him improve the accuracy of the posts.

I am looking forward to more from Graphing Parking. Go check it out.

No comments

Friday, May 17, 2013

Parking Reform International

I have set up a Facebook Group: "Parking Reform International".

If you are on Facebook, please go join the group and join in the discussions!

Here is the group description:
Parking Reform International is a group for people interested in WORLDWIDE urban parking policy reform efforts.
It is especially for those looking for alternatives to the conventional approach that fuels oversupply of cheap parking. Unfortunately, this approach dominates parking policy in most parts of the world.
This group should complement The Shoupistas, which has similar aims but has a North American focus.
It should also complement the Reinventing Parking page, which doesn't allow much interaction.
No comments

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Parking reform does NOT need excellent transit

Parking reform does NOT need excellent transit
There is a widespread belief that reform of minimum parking requirements requires excellent public transport. We see this in recent parking reform debates in US cities, such as Portland, Seattle and Washington, DC for example.

But surely this is mistaken.

Abolishing parking minimums can be done in auto-oriented suburbs too

If eliminating parking minimums actually FORCED parking closures and low-parking development, then maybe this link with public transport would make sense.

But reform of parking requirements is NOT about preventing developers from providing parking! It merely ALLOWS them to choose how much parking they supply. In locations where they see the need, they will keep supplying plentiful parking.

If parking reform does not need transit, then what does it need?

Reform of parking minimums DOES require on-street and other public parking to be well managed. This is to ensure developers and their customers know in advance that free-riding on that resource will be limited and/or come at a cost.

The results in terms of parking supply will vary from place to place, and transit will be a factor in that. But parking minimums are unnecessary even far from public transport.

In fact, parking minimums reform does not even require reduced parking demand! Reform of minimum parking requirements can be done anywhere!

So let me repeat: reform of parking minimums simply does not require excellent public transport.

Are you sceptical?

What about all of the spillover problems? What about conflict with existing residents and retailers? Surely there are pre-requisites that need to be in place before eliminating or easing parking minimums? Let's explore the issue.

Certainly, every community needs adequate control over nuisance parking. But that really should be obvious. If your community lacks parking enforcement capacity then no amount of off-street supply will eliminate on-street chaos without on-street enforcement. You will have on-street chaos with or without minimum parking requirements for off-street parking, as the situations in many cities in South Asia and Southeast Asia demonstrate.

Even better than merely enforcing against nuisance parking is to manage on-street and public parking efficiently, with responsive pricing. This should be enough to send the right signals to developers and their potential customers, so everyone knows the parking bottom line.

But we still haven't dealt with the political obstacles confronting reform of parking minimums. Surely, good public transport is essential to overcoming those obstacles? Well no.

Certainly, enforcement and good management are not enough. Yes, more is needed to allay the fears of existing locals over parking reform. But not necessarily better transit service.

Donald Shoup says parking minimums can be scrapped if we can ALSO
a) price on-street parking rationally, AND
b) make the process attractive to locals via Parking Benefit Districts.
We have to not only neutralise spillover as a problem but also work to make the new pricing welcomed by locals.

Adaptive Parking is similar. It suggests that it is easier to "relax" about parking supply if we ALSO make other complementary reforms:
- Share! (make most parking open to the public),
- Price! (to avoid parking queues and searching),
- Sweeten! (sweeten the deal for relevant existing local stakeholders),
- Relax! (easier now to not worry about parking supply),
- Choice! (make the parking market work better by enhancing choices and choice making).

Notice that none of these require excellent public transport.

But something else is hidden in the Shoupista and Adaptive Parking points above. They both imply (indirectly) that WALKABILITY is important for parking minimums reform.

It is much easier to relax about off-street parking supply in "park-once districts" where any end-destination is served by a range of parking options within walking distance, not just by on-site parking. This is the point of Adaptive Parking's preference for public not private parking. And we need walkability to make it easy to walk between parking options and destinations. A park-once district requires walkability.

But don't forget that even walkability and park-once districts are not really essential. They are helpful and they ease the politics. They make it less crucial for developers to be accurate in guessing how much parking each site needs.

But even without walkability and public parking, there is still no real need for parking minimums.

Bottom line: there is no real need for parking minimums. Anywhere.

8 comments