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?

*  '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.

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.

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