To Reduce Driving, Put a Real Price on Parking

Today on the Streetsblog Network, Roger Valdez of Worldchanging examines whether making parking more difficult can actually reduce driving levels — and recalls the frustration he used to feel before he was able to jettison his car:

9972_largearticlephoto.jpgPhoto by functoruser via Flickr.

[F]rankly, one of the things I enjoy the most about not having a car is being free from the hassle of finding a place to park it.

If there is one thing that motivated me to change my driving habits it was the increasing challenge of parking. I used to think that there was a conspiracy to eliminate, one by one, every last available on-street parking spot.  There actually is a plan.
A major part of Seattle’s strategy to deal with parking is to reduce demand by encouraging people to choose convenient options for getting around besides cars. And beyond my intuition that it works there is some evidence to back up the idea.

According to a review of regional modeling studies done a few years ago by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, parking has a significant impact on reducing VMT.  Their review showed that land use and transit policies have very little effect on VMT by themselves unless they include complementary policies that put a price on parking. Free or cheap parking tends to support more driving.

We’ve also got a post from Veracity‘s "Year with Jane Jacobs" project, which is examining Jacobs’s ideas from every angle. Today, the subject is how Jacobs viewed the Interstate Highway System as part of a shortsighted post-Depression drive to prioritize full employment above all other considerations. Interesting stuff, especially in these times of stimulus. Also, Trains for America looks at the latest attacks on Amtrak, and Copenhagenize urges Londoners to bike the Tube strike.

  • johnson

    If you do eliminate it all, the parking that is, you could see a city like Denver. All those beautiful large, city block sized, parking lots. More money in that then a building when the car parking pressure is on. Looks great. As a biker I see no issue with car parking.

  • Glenn

    When I think about the poor desparate motorist who wants to drive for free, I really do think they are suffering.

    Consider this life:
    1. You can’t afford to pay for a stupid gargage to store your car off street so everyday you wake up and think about whether or not it’s an alternate side day
    If YES – Get up move the car across the street to double park until Alternate side is done: Wasted time 2-3 hours

    2. You need to go somewhere in your neighborhood but you’re not going to put coins in a meter or god forbid short term parking.
    A. you lose the precious parking spot and dread returning to find a spot near home. You’re already in a bad mood.
    B. Traffic and lights nevermid pedestrians and cyclists slow you down. It takes forever to go just 2 miles.
    C. You arrive at your destination, but there is no parking nearby. Double park and risk the ticket or keep circling…

    3. You need to Drive into Manhattan from Brooklyn. No way can you afford the extremely fast Brklyn Battery Tunnel so you sit in traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge.

    All this to cling to the dream of car ownership and freedom of the road. You can certainly understand why they feel frustrated – it’s like they were promised that everything would be free, but they didn’t anticipate that the ultimate price would be Soviet style bread lines.

  • And yet, the streets in every corner of NYC continue to be jammed with double parkers and circling vultures. Which means the price is still too low.

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