MBA: Parking Reform
In the tenth and final video in Streetfilms' Moving Beyond the Automobile series, we are talking about parking reform. From doing away with mandatory parking minimums, to charging the right price for curbside parking, to converting on-street parking spots into parklets and bike corrals, cities are latching onto exciting new ideas to make more room for people in our cities and repurpose the valuable public space that lines our streets.
"Historically the parking problem was defined as there not being enough convenient places to put your car," UPenn professor Rachel Weinberger told Streetfilms, "but increasingly cities are starting to understand that the parking problem could be defined differently and it could be the case that there is too much parking."
Paul Steely White: [00.12] Parking policy in New York City and certainly parking policy in cities around the country is broken.
Ethan Kent: [00:20] Allowing cars to park for free on the street, to dominate that space for long periods of time with no added activity, is the lowest possible use for our streets and public spaces.
Elly Blue: [00:32] Even in the most dense cities new developments are often required to add a certain number of car parking spaces and the on-street car parking is made very cheap. This makes it way easier to drive than it should be, and it also keeps our parking spaces full longer than they should be. The policies don’t make economic sense.
Paul Steely White: [00:51] Our parking policy is exacerbating traffic congestion, giving a secret subsidy to the tune of billions of dollars per year to the automobile.
Elly Blue: [01:00] In the US, the average car parking spot costs $15,000. Bike racks cost about $200 each. We work really hard to make it easy and convenient to park cars but then we don’t put as much effort into making it easy to park your bike.
Rachel Weinberger: [01:14] So we’re kind of in this never ending cycle, more storage, more cars, more storage, more cars. And then we have more storage, more cars you have fewer and fewer houses, fewer recreational facilities. And so in a way it’s a kind of downward spiral because then what you end up having is less city.
Ethan Kent: [01:31] The problem with how we’re planning our streets for cars and for parking is that it’s allowing our streets to be privatised.
Paul Steely White: [01:37] So virtually every block in New York City is lined with free parking. Only a fraction of New York City’s on-street parking is actually metered. And of that metered parking, it’s still about 12 times cheaper than you would pay in a private garage. You have about ten spaces per side on most blocks. And these spaces average about 200 square feet in area. So that works out to about 4,000 square feet of parking per block. There are 6,000 miles of streets in New York City and that works out to about 10,800 acres of parking in New York. How large is 10,800 acres? Well it works out to about 13 Central Parks. Imagine what you can do with all that space.
Rachel Weinberger: [02:22] Two parking spaces actually make a decent size studio apartment.
Elly Blue: [02:27] A bike corral is a car parking space that has been converted into multiple bike parking spaces. In the space where you can park one single car, if you turn that into a bike corral, you can park anywhere from 8 to 22 bicycles.
Paul Steely White: [02:41] When we talk about parking policy, we’re talking about you know the vacancy rate or the cost per hour or how many square feet of parking is devoted on a particular street. This can like quickly get a little boring for people and it’s hard for people to kind of grasp why our parking policy is broken or why it’s problematic, or why the opportunity cost of devoting so much public space to car parking is a problem. So with Parking Day we have really tried to give people a very visually impactful experience of how our public space is really being squandered. People inhabit this space. Sometimes we’ll put sod down or benches, but it’s really a way to humanise what otherwise would be used for simply automobile storage.
Rachel Weinberger: [03:23] Well I think historically the parking problem had been defined as there wasn’t enough convenient places to put your car. But increasingly cities are starting to understand that the parking problem could be defined differently, and in fact it might be the case that there’s too much parking.
Andres Power: [03:37] We sort of got the idea sort of inspired by the use of the reclamation of parking lanes, you know with programmes like Parking Day and such, and looking for places where we could really repurpose and sort of more aptly distribute the limited road right-of-way. And from behind us we have the first pavement of park, parklet, and the idea here really is to sort of very simply and relatively cheaply build out a platform into the parking lane and just providing on top of that sort of a variety of different amenities, so café tables and chairs where appropriate, benching, bike parking, some landscaping.
Ethan Kent: [04:14] We need to put parking back in its place.
Paul Steely White: [04:17] The grail of parking reform is to make it so that parking is not subsidised.
[04:22] Space is a scarce resource in cities and we’re not making
more of it and so we have to manage what we have in order to get the
right amount of movement for people rather than for vehicles.