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Posts tagged "Parking"

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Parking: Searching for the Good Life in the City

Streetfilms is proud to partner with ITDP to bring you this fun animation that's sort of a cross between those catchy Schoolhouse Rock shorts and the credit sequence for a 1960s-style Saul Bass film.

For too long cities tried to make parking a core feature of the urban fabric, only to discover that yielding to parking demand tears that fabric apart. Parking requirements for new buildings have quietly been changing the landscape, making walking and transit less viable while inducing more traffic. Chipping away at walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods has been a slow process that, over the years, turned the heart of American cities into parking craters and even mired some European cities in parking swamps.

Many cities around the world are now changing course by eliminating parking requirements while investing in walking, biking, and transit. Soon cities in the developing world will follow, providing many new lessons of their own.

Parking isn't the easiest topic to wrap your head around, but it is right at the core of the transportation problems facing most cities. We hope this film helps illuminate how to fix them.

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Parking Craters: Scourge of American Downtowns

Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt popularized the term "parking crater," and she explains it simply: A parking crater is "a depression in the middle of an urban area formed by the absence of buildings."

Different types of "meteors" left behind parking craters in the 20th Century -- sprawl subsidies, the erosion of manufacturing, highway building. Whatever the cause, parking craters absolutely destroy sections of downtowns and make the environment more inhospitable and unattractive for people. In these areas, there is virtually no street life. In warm weather the asphalt makes the air more oppressive. It's hell on earth. It's a parking crater.

In this Streetfilm we talk to advocates in Cleveland, Dallas, Hartford, and Houston about the parking craters in their downtowns -- several of which have been contenders in Streetsblog's annual Parking Madness tournament -- and why these cities have such bad craters.

A final note: If this Streetfilm is well received, we intend to do a follow-up film looking at the flip side -- cities that have undone their parking craters by adopting better policy.

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Rethinking the Automobile (with Mark Gorton)

For more than 100 years New York City government policy has prioritized the needs of the automobile over the needs of any other mode of transport. Working under the faulty assumption that more car traffic would improve business, planners and engineers have systematically made our streets more dangerous and less livable. As a result, even the idea that a street could truly be a “place” – a shared space for human interaction and play – has been almost completely destroyed.

During his decade long effort to understand and improve the streets of New York City, entrepreneur and livable streets advocate Mark Gorton has gathered together a compelling set of examples of how transportation policy impacts the quality of our daily lives. Mark is regularly invited to speak in public about these issues.

In his current presentation “Rethinking the Automobile” Mark explores the history of autocentric planning and considers how New York and other cities can change. Filled with ample video footage of dozens of Streetfilms, we’ve worked with Mark to create a version of the presentation here.

As the founder of Streetfilms, Streetsblog, OpenPlans, and the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign, Gorton has been on the front lines of the battle to transform New York’s streets. But Mark is not done fighting. He contends that the recent improvements that have been implemented in New York should only be considered as the “tip of the iceberg” and that a truly comprehensive set of changes are still necessary.

For more on Mark’s continued efforts to make our world more equitable, livable, and safe visit www.rethinktheauto.org

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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."

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MBA: The Right Price for Parking

You might be shocked at how much traffic consists of drivers who have already arrived at their destination but find themselves cruising the streets, searching for an open parking spot. In some city neighborhoods, cruising makes up as much as 40 percent of all traffic. All this unnecessary traffic slows down buses, endangers cyclists and pedestrians, delays other motorists, and produces harmful emissions. The key to eliminating it is to get the price of parking right.

So what's the right price for curbside parking? According to UCLA professor Donald Shoup, author of The High Cost of Free Parking, "the right price is the lowest price you can charge and still have one or two spaces available on each block." Depending on the demand for parking at a given location, the right price could be higher or lower than the static prices you see at traditional meters. You need a dynamic system that adjusts the price based on demand.

The city of San Francisco has been putting Shoup's ideas into practice on an unprecedented scale with its SFpark program, which is set to launch later this week. In addition to strategically adjusting curbside meter rates, SFpark sets prices in city garages to make them an attractive alternative to on-street spots, and distributes real-time information about parking availability to help drivers find open spaces. It is the most ambitious project in the United States to cut traffic and improve quality of life by getting the price of parking right.

Streetfilms would like to thank The Fund for the Environment & Urban Life for making this series possible.

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MBA: Car Sharing

In the third episode of Moving Beyond the Automobile, we take a look at a more efficient way to use a car.  Car sharing allows users to evaluate the full cost of each car trip, which encourages them to decide what the most appropriate mode choice is for a specific trip. 

Zipcar, a leading global car sharing organization, reports that members walk and bike 10-15% more than they did before joining Zipcar.  They also report that members save $600 a month when they choose car sharing over owning a private automobile.

So while car sharing isn't exactly "Moving Beyond the Automobile," it is a great way for cities and individuals to help make the transportation network more efficient and become less dependent on owning a private cars.

(Note: This series is made possible by funding from the Fund for The Environment & Urban Life.)

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Anti-Idling Laws Pass in NYC

On Wednesday, the New York City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection approved two measures to curb idling. One bill cuts Idling times near schools to one minute and the other expands the enforcement agencies to include both the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Sanitation. Before the bills were passed on Wednesday, Council Member John Liu held a rally at City Hall. Hear some of the support for the bill in this brief roundup.

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Daylighting: Make Your Crosswalks Safer

Daylighting is a simple pedestrian safety measure achieved by removing parking spaces adjacent to curbs around an intersection, increasing visibility for pedestrians and drivers and minimizing conflicts. It's beneficial to young and old, but is especially helpful to children, who often cannot see, or be seen by, oncoming traffic. By removing parking adjacent to the crosswalk, the child does not have to wade into the street to see vehicles entering the intersection. At the same time, drivers don't have to roll into the crosswalk to see if pedestrians are waiting to cross.

Compare the photos below, showing the sight line difference with and without a parked car.

Neighborhoods around NYC and beyond are nearly shouting for daylighting to be implemented for safer streets. Streetfilms went to Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan to check out what some neighborhood leaders have to say. And though we love the concept, we think the term, Daylighting, is a little stale. So how about some suggestions? As you'll see, we came up with one, "Pedestrian Peek-a-boo," but we're sure there are others out there.

Learn about daylighting on Streetswiki.

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Park(ing) Day NYC 2008

Transportation Alternatives reports during this year's foray into PARKing Day there were over 50 parking spaces temporarily reclaimed throughout the city, nearly doubling last year's total. I'll say this: that's a lot of freaking sod!!

As usual for these things, the fare ran from the wildly creative to the calm & soothing. There was a meditation garden in Williamsburg, origami being folded at The Open Planning Project's spot, and a bevy of spots with an advocacy theme. But the strangest time-continuum alternative-universe event occurred at Peter Frishauf's spot on the Upper West Side where I filmed him following the live blogging on Streetsblog about PARKing Day! And finally, although my work comrades had an amazingly elaborate spot, if I had to vote this year's winner it would be the Lower East Side Girl's Club. Again. You guys rock.

This year my travels took me to four of the five boros: biked 43 miles, filmed 22 spots, spent 11 hours outdoors and had one bike crash - while I was walking my bike through Times Square. Go figure!

Related Linkage: ReBar, PARK(ing) Day NYC site, PARK(ing) Day NYC 2007 video, Park(ing) Day SF 2006 video. And a big hug to Ditto Ditto who let us use their bouncy-fun tune for this piece.

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Chicanes In My Neighborhood

With sincerest apologies to Fred Rogers, let's go for a walk in Clarence Eckerson's Neighborhood - where you will see a livable streets phenomenon created by (gulp!) double-parked cars.

On alternate side of the street parking days, many communities in Brooklyn have worked out a deal so car owners are allowed to double park with impunity so the streets can get their weekly brushing. (Okay, let's not touch that argument today.) During the interim switchover when drivers are relocating their cars - usually lasting about 15 to 20 minutes - chicanes are temporarily created, which delightfully slow car speeds to more human levels.

We're always trying to enlighten the public here at Streetfilms, by getting inventive using already existing street reality to placate opponents of traffic calming. (Remember our snowy neckdowns?) To add, yes, I have seen vans and small trucks successfully navigate narrow blocks like these. Also please note: in my travels, typical neckdown installations are usually much less drastic then the conditions created here.

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Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Give Me a Ticket!

I put this together last summer one day while feeling a little sympathy for what it must be like to be a ticket writer in this town. And with the latest debate over parking placards, I thought it was relevant to post.

Basically, while I walked around one afternoon with my camera, I looked to see what visual cues drivers leave to evoke sympathy to avoid tickets. I realize some of my on-screen text quotes may be a bit of aggrandizement, but I think you'll get the point.

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Illustrating Parking Reform with Dr. Shoup

On his recent visit to New York, Dr. Donald Shoup, professor of Urban Planning at UCLA, sat down with Mark Gorton of the Open Planning Project in front of a typical NYC street grid map to discuss parking policy.

Shoup concludes that charging more for curbside parking would free up more parking space, reduce congestion-causing cruising and generate funds for local street improvement projects.

Related StreetFilm: Dr. Shoup: Parking Guru

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Transportation Ethics

Who knew that Randy Cohen, a guy who spends most of his day analyzing right and wrong as the New York Times Magazine's acclaimed "Ethicist," turns out to be one of New York City's most captivating and articulate voices for Livable Streets.

The Open Planning Project's Executive Director Mark Gorton recently interviewed Mr. Cohen on the ethics of urban automobility. The result has been condensed here into a 9 minute talk that touches on a multitude of topics ranging from Congestion Pricing to Parking Policy.

StreetFilms hopes this inspires even more debate as we approach these issues from the angle of personal responsibility. We think you'll enjoy this.

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UWS Streets Renaissance: Double Parking

In the first of many shorts we will present over consecutive days, The Open Planning Project's Executive Director Mark Gorton tours the streets of the Upper West Side with neighbor Lisa Sladkus pointing out problems in advance of the important November 6th livable streets event. Today's topic is: Double Parking.

Parking policy is one of the biggest challenges that faces New York City and the rest of the U.S. In this related StreetFilm, Donald Shoup explains how responsible pricing can solve the woes of double parking and pollution, while raising revenues that can be re-invested in communities.

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PARK(ing) Day NYC 2007

Update: Park(ing) Day 2008 is fast approaching and here in NYC you can apply for a mini-grant to get your parking spot up and running.  This year’s Park(ing) Day is doubling in size – with 50 spots coming to the streets of the 5 boroughs.  Make sure your neighborhood isn’t left out of the fun!  For more info, you can check out www.parkingdaynyc.org.

National PARK(ing) Day was a huge hit here in NYC where Transportation Alternatives & The Trust for Public Land organized a of group of motley advocates in liberating parking spaces to open green areas for city residents to enjoy. Last year, NYC had just one spot, but this year nearly two dozen were sponsored across the city - ranging from a mini-gym on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn to a tribal village (complete with tee pee!) on Manhattan's West Side.

Parking Day photo
Most amazing was the overwhelmingly positive response the event received. Residents, tourists, commuters, and drivers (yes drivers!) were seen voicing approval. Peds relished the chance to take a seat or diddle their feet in fresh sod. Some ate pizza. Yum!
Related StreetFilms:
T.A. Parking Spot Squat (June 2006)
Rebar PARK(ing) Day 2006 (September 21, 2006)