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As a Driverless Future Dawns, Should We Still Build Parking?

No one is really sure how many parking spots the United States contains, but estimates stretch up to 2 billion.
May 23, 2017, 5am PDT | ArupAmericas
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This may conjure up images of asphalt seas surrounding suburban shopping malls, but city centers have their fair share as well. Manhattan, arguably one of the least amenable places in the country to cars, has 102,000 public off-street parking spaces [pdf] below 60th Street — more than four times the size of Disneyland. Studies have shown that a significant number of the cars circulating in central business districts at any given time are just looking for parking [pdf].

It also plays a major role in new construction, and not for the better. “Parking is the 800-pound gorilla in land development,” said Will Baumgardner, leader of Arup’s transport and mobility business in the Americas. On most projects, municipal zoning codes require developers to provide at least a set minimum amount of parking. Investors also exert pressure on this front. They often hesitate to fund projects with fewer-than-normal spots, fearing that potential tenants will be scared off by concerns over inaccessibility.

As a result, Baumgardner said, “many office projects build as much space for parking as floor space for people” — significantly increasing the development’s overall cost.

New frontiers

As autonomous vehicle (AV) technology advances, forward-thinking designers, developers, and policymakers are beginning to envision a world with much less parking.

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Published on Monday, May 22, 2017 in Doggerel
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