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How Cities Are Slimming Down on Parking

Cities around the world are finding ways to go on a parking diet, freeing up unused space. San Francisco and Philadelphia are two U.S. leaders, while cities like Paris, Copenhagen, and Zurich pursue even more aggressive measures.
October 2, 2016, 5am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Though it's necessary in cities designed around the car, the way most cities provide for parking is hardly efficient. "'As parking regulations were put into zoning codes, most of the downtowns in many cities were just completely decimated,' says Michael Kodransky, global research manager for the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy. “What the cities got, in effect, was great parking. But nobody goes to a city because it has great parking.'"

The first step toward addressing the problem is simply measuring it. From Nate Berg's article: "Knowing the parking inventory has made it easier for the city to pursue public space improvements such as adding bike lanes or parklets, using the data to quell inevitable neighbourhood concerns about parking loss." 

Invoking UCLA parking guru Donald Shoup, Berg writes, "After San Francisco implemented a pilot project with real-time data on parking availability and dynamic pricing for spaces, an evaluation found that the amount of time people spent looking for parking fell by 43%." Philadelphia's efforts to inventory parking have also led to space gains. 

Outside the U.S., many cities have undertaken more aggressive strategies. "In 1996, [Zurich, Switzerland] decreed that there would be no more parking: officials placed a cap on the amount of parking spaces that would exist there, putting in place a trading system by which any developer proposing new parking spaces would be required to remove that many parking spaces from the city's streets."  

Since 2003, Paris eliminated roughly 15,000 above-ground parking spaces. "São Paulo, for instance, got rid of its minimum parking requirements and implemented a maximum that could be built into specific projects. Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou are hoping to emulate San Francisco's dynamic pricing approach."

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Published on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 in The Guardian
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