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Parking is Hell---Freakonomics

Posted by on Apr. 4, 2013 at 11:43 PM
  • 25 Replies

On one of my favorite podcasts they discussed how parking lots, parking cars and parking spaces are affecting the economy and the way we live life.  Economists and city planners are recommending that less parking and more living space would save money and reorganize urban living.  More walking, less driving, less money spent parking and spent on parking.

Do you have to compete or pay for parking where you live?  Do you aree with the philosophy that more walking space would be better for urban economies and lifestyle?

Some points from the podcast:

But when you add up all the people who are parking in Westwood Village, if they had the same average that we had, that adds up to 3,600 vehicle miles of travel a day. That’s the distance across the U.S., and that’s just in the 15-block area of Westwood. If you add it up for a year, that’s equal to 36 trips around the Earth or four trips to the moon hunting for underpriced curb parking in a little 15-block area. And I think it’s happening all over the world. When other people do these studies, they find very similar results. 

snip

City planners in every city, including large parts of New York, specify the minimum number of parking spaces required for every building depending on its use. A restaurant typically requires at least 10 spaces per thousand square feet, which means that the parking lot is three times bigger than the restaurant. And if nothing can be built unless it meets that parking requirement, and the parking requirement was established on the assumption that everybody’s going to park free, well it does seem to be kind of self-fulfilling that people drive to it.

http://www.freakonomics.com/2013/03/13/parking-is-hell-full-transcript/

by on Apr. 4, 2013 at 11:43 PM
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Replies (1-10):
stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 11:49 PM

I really support this movement to increase walkable living and decrease reliance on cars.  If every building wasn't so far apart, if shopping destinations weren't separated by parking lots of hundreds of yards, if there was a way to buy the things you needed on a reasonable and pleasant walk home from work, I think the benefits would be immeasureable.  More active lifestyles, more small business, more people on the streets increasing safety and a more connected community.

LucyMom08
by Gold Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 11:57 PM
1 mom liked this

 I completely agree...even discounting the health benefits, you'd have a lot more foot traffic in highly populated areas...more people walking by stores and browsing, smelling food from restaurants, etc...your car insulates you from the world, and most people hop in and drive from point A to point B without even seeing all there is to offer along the way...

 

Not to mention all the valuable potential real estate that is literally just sitting there...

stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Apr. 5, 2013 at 12:15 AM


Yes...so true.  The economist in this podcast addressed the issue of potentially developable land.

But I think the upside of the mess that we’re in is a terrific opportunity that there’s all this vacant land that can be built on in cities. I mean I think we’re the Saudi Arabia of developable land in cities. If cities reduced, eliminated their minimum parking requirements, a lot of these parking lots could be built on for infill development. http://www.freakonomics.com/2013/03/13/parking-is-hell-full-transcript/

I was talking to my husband about this...the city he grew up in is very similar to the model that this guy is advocating for.  He often tells me about the lifestyle like this...walk to work, on your way home stop by several high quality shops to get whatever you may need...fresh bread, meat for the evening meal, fruit or veggies from a fresh fruit vendor, clothing shoes, whatever...all conveniently located.

Now to get any kind of shopping done you have to get in the car, drive to the suburbs, buy a week or two worth of groceries and other items from a big box store, and then drive home.  It doesn't make sense to make the most needed things something you have to drive a minimum of 15 minutes through traffic to get.

Quoting LucyMom08:

 I completely agree...even discounting the health benefits, you'd have a lot more foot traffic in highly populated areas...more people walking by stores and browsing, smelling food from restaurants, etc...your car insulates you from the world, and most people hop in and drive from point A to point B without even seeing all there is to offer along the way...

 

Not to mention all the valuable potential real estate that is literally just sitting there...



rfurlongg
by on Apr. 5, 2013 at 7:54 AM
1 mom liked this
I agree with the author.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
JCB911
by Bronze Member on Apr. 5, 2013 at 5:29 PM

I disagree - Parking is convenient.  I'm not a fan of having to park in the city - blocks and blocks away from where I'm trying to go. 

I live in a suburb-ish area.   We don't even have sidewalks - so there's no way I'd walk to the store. The nearest grocery for me isn't that far - probably a mile. The one I prefer is just a bit further.  But well then you have to carry all your stuff and since you can't carry much you'd have to make more trips to the store every week - no thanks, I have much better things to do with my time then walk back and forth to the grocery every day or two.

Plus I live in Wisconsin, and we have kids.  Walking blocks and block in the freezing cold with kids is something I avoid.   Plus, sadly in my town, there is plenty of available real estate.

Now in cities that have a parking/space problem - where do they plan to get their customers if they limit it even further - certainly not from those outside their few block radius.  Are there enough people in a 10 block or so radius to even support all these new businesses that could pop up if only there was space? 

And the poster saying it doesn't make sense to have to drive 15 minutes to get needed things? Why not?  Wouldn't driving 15 minutes once a week (or 30 for a round trip) be better than walking 10 minutes four times a week (or 20 minutes round trip x 4 = 80 minutes)?

Plus who wants to live in an area like that?  I wouldn't want to live next to a grocery store. I'd much rather have a nice big yard and space. And to NOT live next to, or so close to businesses.

coronado25
by Silver Member on Apr. 5, 2013 at 5:40 PM

I have so much to say on this, I don't know where to begin.

  Used to be, you bought land, and plans and built, or bought the land and plan that someone else built before.  Where I grew up there was no where you could get to by walking in under half an hour. That is because developers bought up land and built a huge housing development with a country club (this was the 60's) and I guess, assumed that everyone who could afford to buy in there, would have a car and want to use it. 

When I lived in Ireland, I could walk everywhere...but also, only every few people had cars.  My ex husband, who I met in Ireland, couldn't get over how where I grew up there was no "city center" where you could take a bus in, get your shopping done, and get out. 

I just got out of San Francisco. You can walk alot of places, but when you need to drive, parking is abominable.  Meters are 25 cents for 10 minutes and if you are ticketed for an unpaid meter, it is $60 fine. Also, you are not allowed to park in your own driveway, because of handicap laws. (I support handicap laws). However, the fine, even if you are just unloading groceries or bringing in children or laundry, is $100.00.

I would support a movement to increase walkable living...but it may mean getting rid of zoning laws, and letting business and residential properties become intermingled.

krysstizzle
by on Apr. 5, 2013 at 5:43 PM
1 mom liked this

Nice post :)

I think making cities and towns more walkable is a great idea, starting with mixed use development zoning and planning. I think it would also be good for community in general; cars are pretty isolating. 

nb34
by Silver Member on Apr. 5, 2013 at 5:49 PM
1 mom liked this

Absolutely! There are numerous studies that show the more walking friendly a city is the better they fair economically. I have no doubt that it is better all around to have more walking space than parking. Also, pedestrian streets are great! You see those all over Europe. They make city life more interesting and more business friendly ( I am always amazed at how business friendly conservatives avoid addressing these issues).

Some of the most amazing places I have visited, all have pedestrian and walking firendly streets!

turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Apr. 5, 2013 at 5:50 PM
1 mom liked this

In Japan....before you can buy a car you have to prove that you have parking space.

When I was there the neighbours would ride their bike to their car to go on a drive.  Space is at a premium in Tokyo so it makes sense.  

If you want the more walkable living...look at Tokyo.  

They have professional "pushers" to get you all in the trains....overcrowding of public transport is unbelievable.
 

stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Apr. 5, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Parking is convenient because it is made to be convenient.  I am the poster who talked about driving 15 minutes to a big box store.  It isn't more convenient to drive everywhere, especially if you only need a couple of things.  There are no sidewalks in the burbs because they are built for cars.  I am saying we should build for people, put in some walkable real estate.

There will be rural areas of course, but urban sprawl has taken the life out of urban living.  

I try to live a walkable lifestyle now but it is tougher in this neighborhood.  When I lived in another area I lived just like that.  I used public transport for work, grocery shopped on foot on the way home, walked everywhere for everything.  It was awesome.  And that was Minneapolis so I did it in all weather.  I didn't mind living in a mixed use neighborhood.  I preferred it, chose it on purpose.

Quoting JCB911:

I disagree - Parking is convenient.  I'm not a fan of having to park in the city - blocks and blocks away from where I'm trying to go. 

I live in a suburb-ish area.   We don't even have sidewalks - so there's no way I'd walk to the store. The nearest grocery for me isn't that far - probably a mile. The one I prefer is just a bit further.  But well then you have to carry all your stuff and since you can't carry much you'd have to make more trips to the store every week - no thanks, I have much better things to do with my time then walk back and forth to the grocery every day or two.

Plus I live in Wisconsin, and we have kids.  Walking blocks and block in the freezing cold with kids is something I avoid.   Plus, sadly in my town, there is plenty of available real estate.

Now in cities that have a parking/space problem - where do they plan to get their customers if they limit it even further - certainly not from those outside their few block radius.  Are there enough people in a 10 block or so radius to even support all these new businesses that could pop up if only there was space? 

And the poster saying it doesn't make sense to have to drive 15 minutes to get needed things? Why not?  Wouldn't driving 15 minutes once a week (or 30 for a round trip) be better than walking 10 minutes four times a week (or 20 minutes round trip x 4 = 80 minutes)?

Plus who wants to live in an area like that?  I wouldn't want to live next to a grocery store. I'd much rather have a nice big yard and space. And to NOT live next to, or so close to businesses.


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