Cities Cut Parking Supply to Discourage Driving

Cities plan to cut off individual parking garages is a gamble, says Josie Garthwaite in National Geographic -- yet making it impossible to park is one of the few yet most effective tools that reduces driving.
July 20, 2011, 1pm PDT | Kristopher Fortin
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Though replacing parking stalls for infrastructure that is beneficial for walking, bicycling and mass transit is effective, the action can backfire.

"'On the one hand, a shortage of car parking supply,' can motivate people to get out of their cars and onto the sidewalk or bike lane, Sareco researchers Eric Gantelet and Christophe Begon explained in their report. Yet an imperfect system can also increase traffic congestion caused by circling for on-street parking."

"As Gantelet and Begon noted, if parking is tough to find in a downtown shopping district, people might simply opt to drive out to a shopping mall with a large parking lot instead."

Yet the idea that there is a demand for parking, says Racehl Weinberger, assistant professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania, is actually a "demand for access to a location."

"If a private car is the only way to access a given restaurant, shopping center, workplace, or neighborhood, she argued, then "that translates to demand for parking."

"In fact, according to research from the Paris-based firm Sareco, people choose their mode of transportation for urban trips based on the parking conditions at their origin and destination."

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Published on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 in National Geographic
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