Video Proof That NYC Will Do Just Fine Without All This Parking

Private car storage just isn't very necessary in the transportation system of a complex, transit-rich city like New York.

Private car parking consumes way more curb space than it should. Image via Luke Ohlson
Private car parking consumes way more curb space than it should. Image via Luke Ohlson

Every time the city devotes more street space to walking, biking, or transit, you can bet someone will complain about losing parking spaces. No matter how many people will have shorter commutes or safer trips around the neighborhood thanks to repurposing parking, there’s a certain line of thought that views car storage as the most important function of city streets. Even though most NYC residents don’t own cars, the parking-above-all perspective still carries a lot of weight with decision makers afraid of ruffling feathers.

But how important is all this street parking, really? What does the city get in return for giving the vast majority of it away for free? Not much, as this video from Transportation Alternatives organizer Luke Ohlson demonstrates.

In time-lapse footage from the 22nd Street and Broadway Citi Bike station, covering an hour of the weekday p.m. rush on June 14, the bike-share docks turn over much more frequently than the adjacent car parking spaces. By my count, there are nearly 200 combined arrivals and departures using the bike-share station in 60 minutes, while six cars come and five cars go over the same time.

The video, which was displayed prominently at last week’s launch of Streetopia, underscores the inefficiency of how NYC allocates street space. Private car storage just isn’t very necessary in the transportation system of a complex, transit-rich city like New York. The big metal machines mostly stay put, consuming space that could be used for wider sidewalks, safer crossings, bike parking, and other uses.

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