New Car Owners, Fewer Parking Spaces—Chickens Come to Roost in New York City

Many cities like New York have reallocated space formerly reserved for moving and storing cars to help restaurants and stores weather the pandemic, but as more residents rely on cars for the same reason, the dynamic threatens to boil over.

November 11, 2020, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


New York City Open Streets

EQRoy / Shutterstock

Doree Lewak found some New Yorkers upset about the conversion of parking spots to outdoor dining areas—a common signifier of life during the pandemic in cities of all sizes and geographic location around the country.

According to Lewak, the tension is the result of two conflicting forces:

According to the Department of Transportation’s Brian Zumhagen, the expansion of outdoor dining has eliminated as many as 10,000 parking spots on commercial corridors. At the same time, COVID-19 lockdown has spurred more New Yorkers to purchase their first cars.

Lewak's star witness is Upper West Side resident Melanie Wesslock, who says parking hassle is at an all-time high in Manhattan.

The Upper West Side married mom of one grudgingly abandons her street space each weekday morning to drive her son to school on the Lower East Side rather than risk the high school freshman catching the coronavirus on public transit.

“On average, it takes four hours per day due to limited alternate parking rules and curbside dining taking spots,” the photographer griped to The Post from the front seat of her red Mini Countryman. “I think the only conversations we have now are about parking. It’s dominating my life right now.”

While car owners find a media outlet to sympathize with their plight, the city has taken recent steps to ensure that business and social activity will continue to take precedence over car-centric uses. The city of New York made its outdoor dining program, a long shot not that long ago, permanent in the city.

The news about parking conflicts arising in response to New York's outdoor dining program stands in contrast to reports from around the country about a surprising lack of parking controversies as outdoor dining programs have proliferated around the country during the pandemic. Even where outdoor dining has won in the court of public opinion, the threat of dangerous drivers still hangs over the scene in these new commercial and social spaces. 

Monday, November 9, 2020 in New York Post

Los Angeles Skyline

New Study Ranks the Urban Heat Island Effect in U.S. Cities

A new analysis by Climate Central evaluates the intensity of urban heat islands in cities around the United States—New Orleans tops the list.

July 15, 2021 - WBUR

Adams Morgan pedestrian zone during COVID-19 pandemic

The Most Complete Map of U.S. Pedestrian Risk Yet

New research published by the Journal of Transport and Land Use analyzes tens of thousands of pedestrian fatalities over 16 years in the United States.

July 20, 2021 - Streetsblog USA

Dallas Freeway Removal

The Freeway Removal Cause Gains Momentum—But Don't Forget Gentrification and Displacement

The case for freeway in urban areas isn't as unequivocal as it might seem. Plans to undo the damage of the legacies of past freeway planning need to ensure an inclusive future.

July 14, 2021 - Los Angeles Times

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.