Rethinking Parking

For much of the 20th century, easy car access and plentiful parking were paramount goals for downtowns across North America and beyond. In many cases, it was only after swaths of the city had been razed that planners and decision makers realized that in making urban places easy to get to by car, they’d destroyed the sense of place that originally attracted people. It also became clear that abundant parking contributed to even more car use, or as parking guru Donald Shoup put it, “Minimum parking standards are fertility drugs for cars.” However, as The Guardian details, many cities are beginning to rethink their parking policy. In doing so, they are unlocking valuable development potential in prime downtown locations, while simultaneously reducing car-dependence, with many associated benefits. This shift certainly faces opposition from some drivers who are used to “free” or cheap parking; but innovative programs such as those in San Francisco and Zurich are demonstrating that there are ways to create accessible downtowns that are also places for people.

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