No parking, no business 2: What happens in the store.

On 23 June we asked the following open question to our readers “Has anyone out there ever run across a solid report or study showing that local businesses suffer financially when a zone is pedestrianized or made bike-accessible? Or that real estate prices take a nose dive when such improvements are made? Most of us here are familiar with the other side of this coin, but it occurred to me that this such critical references might be useful to us all, given that these local conflicts and claims come up time and time again in cities around the world.” Continue reading

No Parking, No Business 1: What if the other guy actually has a point?

Last Saturday morning, the 23rd of June, I thought to ask an open question to several of our New Mobility Agenda fora as follows:

Has anyone out there ever run across a solid report or study showing that local businesses suffer financially when a zone is pedestrianized or made bike accessible? Or that real estate prices take a nose dive when such improvements are made? Most of us here are familiar with the other side of this coin, but it occurred to me that this such critical references might be useful to us all, given that these local conflicts and claims come up time and time again in cities around the world.

Continue reading

Op-Ed: A rethinking of what parking is in the first place

“If your parking policy debates are going in circles, there is a good chance the protagonists are ‘framing’ parking in totally different ways.”  (Let’s see what Paul Barter of Reinventing Parking had to say  on this earlier today in Singapore.) Continue reading

Man and car: Who is driving whom this morning?

What is it about what the English call a motor car that, when an otherwise perfectly decent human enters it and slams the door shut, somehow there is a total transformation of that person gripping the stirring wheel into something, into someone who is just a little bit less decent and a little bit less human. A consistent theme of World Streets is that over the last hundred years or so our cars have not only transported us but they have also in the process also transformed us.  Oops. And in the process they have fatally (I chose my word) altered the dimensions of the space in which we live our daily lives, and in the same process made this thing that was supposed simply to transport us from A to B at our leisure, into a defining part of our daily lives — and indeed in some ways part of ourselves. A cruel critic might say, half Faust and half Frankenstein. Continue reading

Free Parking Is for Socialists

Down with Free Auto Parking! Up with Free Market Parking!

– by Michael Andersen

THERE’S NOTHING like watching the degenerates of NW 23rd to make you wonder when liberal America’s war on families is going to end.

What frightens me most about this neighborhood isn’t the decadence. It’s the entitlement. These people now insist that the rest of us open our wallets to extend them special benefits at public expense.

I’m speaking, of course, of free automobile parking. Continue reading

Op-Ed. On relative costs of PRT, auto and public transit

There are a number of important factors to consider when comparing PRT, public transit and automobile costs, and therefore when comparing the cost-efficiency of roadway versus transit investments.  (Commentary by Todd Litman of Victoria Transport Policy  Institute on some of the figures raised in the discussions of PRT vs. cars and public transport.) Continue reading

Moving Beyond the Automobile – Exit Parking

The tenth and final video in Streetfilms’ Moving Beyond the Automobile series, looks into the necessary reasons and some of the techniques for parking reform. While the context is New York City, the  lessons are universal. From doing away with mandatory parking minimums, to charging the right price for curbside parking, to converting on-street parking spots into parklets and bike corrals, cities are latching onto exciting new ideas to make more room for people in our cities and repurpose the valuable public space that lines our streets. Continue reading

The economic case for on-street bike parking

BikenomicsIf your city is to go the bike route, and we can think of no good reason why it should not, you have to figure out the parking angle. Which, once you get into it, proves to be not nearly as easy as you might at first have thought.  Here is a thoughtful piece on the on-street parking piece of the city bike puzzle which appears in Grist this morning under the byline of the ever-inventive Elly Blue.  We propose you check it out with that second cup of coffee. Continue reading

Honk: “Floating Parking” & Bike-Buffer Zones in New York City

Let’s see what our friends at Streetfilms have to share with us today on the topic of “Floating Parking” & Bike-Buffer Zones in Separated Cycletracks”.  Here is their short introduction with a narration by the noted traffic engineer Gary Toth of Partners for Public Spaces, by videographer Clarence Eckerson, Jr. who shot and edited the film.

Continue reading

Locked in Suburbia: Is there life after Autopia?

Something like ten percent of our lonely planet’s population are today thoroughly locked in — or at least think they are — to an “automotive life style”.   While in barely two generations  the earth’s population has  tripled, the automotive age has, step by silent surreptitious step, changed the way we live — and in the process made us prisoners of just that technology that was supposed to make us free forever. That’s a bad joke and bad news. But there is worse yet, and it comes in two ugly bites. For starters, in addition to the ten percent of us already hapless prisoners of our cars, another twenty percent of our soon seven billion brothers and sisters are standing in line eagerly in the hope of getting  locked in as quickly as possible. And as if that were not bad enough, the consensus among most of the experts and policy makers is that our goose is forever cooked, and there is little anybody  can do about it. Well, maybe not. Spend some time this Monday morning with Paul Mees, as he attacks this received belief and suggests . . . Well, why don’t I just get out of the way and let Paul speak for himself. Continue reading

“The end of the parking meter”

This article  by Tom Vanderbilt appeared in yesterday’s Wired offering a readable review of the history of this remarkable American transportation invention and gift to the world, with good references to Donald Shoup‘s monumental “The High Cost of Free Parking” and Paul Barter’s Reinventing Parking blog. Every regular reader of World Streets is well aware that strategic parking control is one of the key pillars to a city transport system that is doing its job — but whether or not the key to this is going to be the old parking meter, well that we can leave you to judge. Continue reading

Parks vs. Parking: What do Indian cities need?

Chennai had prepared a plan some years ago for a multi-storey parking deck  in T. Nagar where the Panagal Park now stands. T Nagar, once a quiet residential neighbourhood, is now the shopping centre for all of Chennai and has tremendous levels of congestion. The parking plan was called off due to protests by walkers and elderly citizens. I recently got the happy news that a revised plan to build an underground multi-storey parking facility below the Venkatanarayana Road playground also got struck down in the Madras High Court. The court reasoned that the city was lacking in open spaces – which are now considered an integral part of the constitutional right to life. The parcel under consideration is zoned as an open space and has been in use as a playground for more than 60 years. The court found that this activity cannot be disrupted for providing services to motorists who visit this central neighbourhood in the city for shopping. Continue reading

Parking slots are like . . . toilets?

This is supposed to be the fatal ten day stretch during which your valiant editor has promised to be out there pounding the pavement to secure sources of finance so that we can keep World Streets going. But every day interesting ideas and proposals for projects keep slipping in over the transom, some of which just too hard to resist. Here is today’s slip in his otherwise firm resolve. Sorry. Simply irresistible.
Continue reading

Worldwide Parking Scenarios: In New Delhi, five million vehicles and nowhere to park

Parking facts and policies are a wonderful often mysterious component of both the Old and New Mobility Agendas. Dead (i.e., parked) cars gobble up a huge amount of valuable public space in and around in our cities, on average of three to four times the number of moving cars. And while it is an enormously powerful transport policy tool (potentially), most cities and administrations run scared when it comes to taking a consistent, thought-out, strategic approach. Here are a few crisp words from Neha Lalchandani of The Times of India reporting on the present state of the parking art in that nation’s capital. More Old Mobility as you will see.

Demand For Parking Space In Delhi Exceeds
Capacity Over Three Times

– Neha Lalchandani from The Times Of India Mumbai; Date:2010 May 21;

New Delhi: Fears of our cities turning into concrete jungles can now take a backseat – they are turning into parking lots much sooner. With around 1,100 vehicles being added to Delhi’s streets each day, the city is struggling to find parking space for more than 5.2 million vehicles, in addition to those coming in daily from across the border.

Fears of our cities turning into concrete jungles can now take a backseat – they are turning into parking lots much sooner. With around 1,100 vehicles being added to Delhi’s streets each day, the city is struggling to find parking space for more than 5.2 million vehicles, in addition to those coming in daily from across the border.

Vehicles occupy an estimated 10.8% of the city’s urbanized area, increasingly threatening its green spaces. Their sheer numbers are also threatening to undo any benefits that Delhi might have accrued in switching over to CNG and mass transport systems like the Metro. Experts say unless using vehicles is aggressively discouraged, in the form of prohibitory parking charges, taxes and congestion fees, the air quality is unlikely to improve.

“The demand for parking space has clearly overshot the available capacity by as much as three times. The shortfall of space is in the range of 16-52%. The government needs to formulate a parking policy in which parking rates reflect the cost of real estate. That would make it a deterrent for car users,” says Sunita Narain, director of Centre for Science and Environment.

Going by 2005 records of daily registration of cars, demand for parking space exceeded 2.5 million sqm. “Transport planners consider 23sqm of land as appropriate to park an average car. This means in the prime business district of Connaught Place, the rent of such an area can be as high as Rs 36,000 per month. But users pay a minuscule sum for parking,” said Anumita Roychoudhury, in-charge of the Right To Clean Air Campaign for CSE.

The government has failed to come up with a comprehensive policy for parking. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) started charging land users a one-time fee for constructing parking space but that only serves to increase cost of parking to nearly Rs 4-6 lakh per car space, barely any of which will be recovered from the users. Underground parking lots, mostly beneath parks and green spaces, met with resistance from not just the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority but also resident welfare associations.

The New Delhi Municipal Council has recently introduced a graded parking fee in its areas.

“A shift to public transport can only be achieved if driving is not a convenient mode of travel. Big cities such as Portland, Seattle, Bremen, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo and Bogota among others have hiked parking fees and limited parking space to reduce car usage,” said Roychoudhury.

# # #

About the author:
Neha Lalchandani writes for The Times of India.

Note: A lakh is a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand. Thus Rs 4-6 lakh per parking space translates to 400,000 to 600,000 Indian Rupees, equal roughly to USD 8-10,000. Just to give you an idea.

Thanks to Alok Priyanka and Sustran for the heads-up.

Shoup on how parking can make a street great

Donald Shoup has extensively studied parking as a key link between transportation and land use, with important consequences for cities, the economy, and the environment — and that is exactly why World Streets is pleased to welcome this thought-provoking contribution on parking as an instrument for creating great streets and cities that at once offer quality of life and an economy that works.

The Price of Parking on a Great Street:

– By Donald Shoup, Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA

How Can Curb Parking Contribute to Making a Street Great?
A city can (1) charge performance based prices for curb parking and (2) return the revenue to the metered districts to pay for added public services. With these two policies, curb parking will help to create great streets, improve transportation, and increase the economic vitality of cities.

Performance Parking Prices

Performance-based prices can balance the varying demand for parking with the fixed supply of curb spaces. We can call this balance between demand and supply the “Goldilocks principle” of parking prices: the price is too high if many spaces are vacant, and too low if no spaces are vacant. When a few vacant spaces are available everywhere, the prices are just right. After the city adjusts prices to yield one or two vacant spaces in every block (about 85 percent occupancy), everyone will see that curb parking is readily available. In addition, no one can say that performance parking prices will drive customers away if almost all curb spaces are occupied.

Prices that produce an occupancy rate of about 85 percent can be called “performance-based” for three reasons. First, curb parking will perform efficiently. The spaces will be well used but readily available. Second, the transportation system will perform efficiently. Cruising for underpriced curb parking will not congest traffic, waste fuel, and pollute the air.

Third, the economy will perform efficiently. The price of parking will be higher when demand is higher, and this higher price will encourage rapid parking turnover. Drivers will park, buy something, and leave quickly so that other drivers can use the spaces. Cities can achieve all these goals by setting curb parking prices to yield about an 85 percent occupancy rate.

Local Revenue Return

Performance prices for curb parking can yield ample public revenue. If the city returns this revenue to pay for added public spending on the metered streets, citizens are more likely to support the performance prices. The added funds can pay to clean and maintain the sidewalks, plant trees, improve lighting, bury overhead utility wires, remove graffiti, and provide other public improvements.

Put yourself in the shoes of a merchant in an older business district where curb parking is free and customers complain about a parking shortage. Suppose the city installs meters and begins to charge prices that produce a few vacancies. Everyone who wants to shop in the district can park quickly, and the city spends the meter money to clean the sidewalks and provide security. These added public services make the business district a place where people want to be, rather than merely a place where anyone can park free if they can find a space. Returning the meter revenue generated by the district to the district for the district’s own use can help to convince merchants and property owners to support performance prices for curb parking.

Suppose also that curb parking remains free in other business districts. Everyone complains about the shortage of parking, and drivers congest traffic and pollute the air while they search for curb parking. The city has no meter revenue to clean the sidewalks and provide other amenities. In which district would you want to have a business?

Performance prices will improve curb parking by creating a few vacancies, the added meter revenue will pay to improve public services, and these added public services will create political support for performance prices.

Parking Increment Finance

Most cities put their parking meter revenue into the city’s general fund. How can a city return meter revenue to business districts without shortchanging the general fund? The city can return only the subsequent increment in meter revenue–the amount above and beyond the existing meter revenue–that arises after the city begins to charge performance prices. We can call this arrangement parking increment finance.

Parking increment finance closely resembles tax increment finance, a popular way to pay for public investment in districts in need of revitalization. Local redevelopment agencies receive the increment in property tax revenue that results from the increased property values in the redevelopment districts. Similarly, business districts can receive the increment in parking meter revenue that results from performance parking prices.

More meters, higher rates, and longer hours of operation will provide money to pay for added public services. These added public services will promote business activity in the district, and the increased demand for parking will further increase meter revenue.

Performance Parking Prices in Practice

Some cities have begun to charge performance prices for curb parking and return the meter revenue to its source. Redwood City, California, sets meter rates to achieve an 85 percent occupancy rate for curb parking downtown; the rates differ both by location and time of day, depending on demand. The city returns the revenue to the metered district to pay for public parking structures, police protection, and cleaner sidewalks.

Merchants and property owners all supported the new policy when they learned the meter revenue would pay for added public services in the downtown business district, and the city council adopted it unanimously. Performance prices create a few curb vacancies so visitors can easily find a space, the added meter revenue pays to improve public services, and these added public services create political support for the performance prices.

Redwood City’s Parking Ordinance To accomplish the goal of managing the supply of parking and to make it reasonably available when and where needed, a target occupancy rate of eighty-five percent (85%) is hereby established.

The Parking Manager shall survey the average occupancy for each parking area in the Downtown Meter Zone that has parking meters. Based on the survey results, the Parking Manager shall adjust the rates up or down in twenty-five cent ($0.25) intervals to seek to achieve the target occupancy rate.

Revenues generated from on-street and off-street parking within the Downtown Meter Zone boundaries shall be accounted for separately from other City funds and may be used only within or for the benefit of the Downtown Core Meter Zone.

Sections 20.120 and 20.121 of the Redwood City Municipal Code
———————————————————-

Most cities keep their meter rates constant throughout day and let occupancy rates vary in response to demand. cities can vary their meter prices to keep occupancy about 85 percent. The goal is to balance supply everywhere, all the time. Most cities also limit the length at meters so long-term parkers won’t monopolize the curb spaces. But after Redwood City adjusted meter guarantee the availability spaces, it removed limits at meters.

This unlimited-has turned out to with drivers who can for as long as they pay. The demand-meter rates create the most convenient spaces, and long-term tend to choose the cheaper spaces in off-street lots.

Other cities have also begun to adjust their meter ensure the availability of curb parking. The U.S. Department Transportation has awarded grants to Chicago, Los San Francisco to test performance prices for curb Washington, D.C., has already started them. Pasadena Diego return meter revenues to enhance public services metered districts.

We can call the balance between demand and supply the “Goldilocks principle” of parking prices.

Any city can use a pilot program to test Goldilocks prices for curb parking. All the city has to do is allow business district that requests a pilot program to have cost the city anything, because the meters pay for Dirty and unsafe streets will never be great, so the initially use the meter revenue to pay for clean-and-safe.

Many communities may value clean and safe more highly than free but overcrowded curb parking. community is clean and safe, the parking revenue urban amenities such as street trees, underground public transit improvements. Parking on a great street may not be free, but it will be convenient and worth the price.

# # #

About the author:
Professor Shoup is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He has been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University and the World Bank, and has served as Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA. His influential book, The High Cost of Free Parking, is leading a growing number of cities to charge fair market prices for curb parking, dedicate the resulting revenue to finance public services in the metered districts, and reduce or remove off-street parking requirements. His research on employer-paid parking led to passage of California’s parking cash-out law, and to changes in the Internal Revenue Code to encourage parking cash out. He can be reached at shoup@ucla.

This article was adapted with permission of the author from a chapter in Planetizen Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning, edited by Abhijeet Chavan, Christian Peralta, and Christopher Steins. Washington, Island Press, 2007, pp. 52–56.

Hundreds of Cars, No Garage: Recipe for a low carbon future – Australian perspectives on sustainable transportation

We are trying to get a better look at how sustainable transportation is coming along in Australia, as an example of one of the several handfuls of heavily motorized countries which have for decades concentrated on building (and in the process unknowingly locking themselves into) what is basically an all-car infrastructure. This is the second in what we intend to be a series of articles on this topic. Published with the permission of the author, a professor in the media department of a leading Australian university, it takes an outside-looking-in perspective of our topic. Continue reading

PARK(ing) Day in Cape Town (Not everybody loves it equally)

A few weeks back, a local police vehicle – which had been circling for a while – came to abrupt halt on a no-stopping line in front of me in Fish Hoek, and asked if my colleagues and I had permission to be in our parking bay*. The nearby businesses were complaining, you see; by occupying our bay, they said, we were preventing others from doing so, and this meant, no doubt, that their daily takings would suffer.

– By Gail Jennings, Cape Town, South Africa

The thing is, though, that around 40% of South Africans suffer every day precisely because they need to find a parking bay. The only way they can get about – constrained either by lack of public transport, or by an inability to conceive of taking shared transport – is by private car.

The other 60% suffer for quite the opposite reason: they don’t need a parking bay, they rely on public transport, which currently is unreliable, unintegrated, unsafe, unaffordable, inaccessible, unsustainable, and just plain unpleasant. And it’s not even public transport, come to think of it – it’s commuter transport, workwards in the morning, homewards in the evening, and little flexibility in-between.

Should businesses not perhaps be complaining about this, that they’re accessible only to people with private cars? In our world that’s heating up, depleted of fossil fuels, with dimished urban and quality open spaces, increased road deaths, congestion, road rage and lack of access to health care, education and economic opportunities, use of the private car as we know it – and its space-hungry requirement of parking bays – is on its way out.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that we hang on to what we know for as long as possible, resisting a change to what we regard as less convenient; less flexible; less, well, personal, ways of moving around.

But as Jeremy Cronin, deptuy minister of transport, puts it: ” We have to respond to the challenge of access not with cars or more freeways [or more parking!], but with with intelligent public transport, non-mortorised transport, accessiblity and urban redesign.

‘In South Africa we are blessed and cursed with the reality that at least 60% of households don’t have cars. And while that’s a good thing, it’s also a terible thing for those who don’t have the car, because it makes them immobile.

‘The struggle to achieve the right to moblity is inextricably linked to the struggle for public space, for decent, safe, dignified and accessible public space.’

The car is the least space-efficient, least socially equitable and least environmentally responsible mode of transport, yet it is currently given preferential treatment.

Which is why on 18 September, I – and thousands of people worldwide – temporarily transformed my (paid-for) parking space into a public park as part of an annual event called PARK(ing) Day.

I shared my sunny ‘park’ bench with other civic-minded souls; with passing dog-walkers, who welcomed a rest en-route home; with butchery workers who were otherwise planning to spend their lunch hour on the hard sidewalk in the damp and icy shade; and with shop owners who took a coffee break while unpacking stock. I even ordered a pizza delivery from one of said businesses, and watched over a number of bicycles parked in ‘my’ bay next door (you can fit about 10 bicycles in the space of one car).

In cities around the world, inexpensive street parking results in more traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution, and the strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant urban human environment. Our public spaces are public assets, yet we allocate an estimated 70% of our urban open spaces to privately owned vehicles.

The unprecedented urban growth taking place in developing countries reflects the hopes and aspirations of millions of new urbanites, suggests the United Nations Population Fund, 2007. ‘Cities have enormous potential for improving people’s lives, but inadequate urban management, often based on inaccurate perceptions and information, can turn opportunity into disaster.’

South African cities, and cities as a ‘lifestyle concept’, for want of a better way to put it, historically developed because rural people wanted to be closer to economic opportunities, other people, food, markets, and a sense of being where it’s all happening. Yet with sprawling, low-density, spatially segregated cities such as Cape Town, quite the opposite has happened. Social exclusion, long commute distances, high transport costs, poor-quality urban environments, isolated, dangerous and inaccessible parks, dwindling resources…

To quote Jeremy Cronin once more, there are several key factors in our society that continue to actively reproduce inequality, poverty and underdevelopment. ‘And one of these is the fact that spatial configuration of our society in which where you live impacts dramatically on the cost in time and money that it takes you to access work, education and any of your basic constitutional and other rights.’

Low-density, sprawling neighbourhoods are more likely to need motorised transport (the densities are not enough to support viable, unsubsidised public transport) and contribute to social isolation. And excessive traffic and high-speed freeways can separate communities and make sustainable modes of transport, such as walking and cycling, more difficult to use.

Higher-density neighbourhoods, on the other hand, with a good mix of land-use and inter-connectivity, facilitate walking and cycling, sustain public transport and are generally safer (because there’re more eyes on the street).

If Cape Town is to become a city within which it is easy to access opporunities, be they opportunities for health-care, education, work or leisure, the city must break away from its current radial movement pattern that focuses on the central city, and create a strong network of cross-city roads, public transport and walking and cycling routes that connect and link homes, work places, shops and social facilities.

Urban planning has been used to startlingly effective degree to engineer social injustice. So it’s not too much of a stretch to see how quality, safe, affordable, accessible and largely sustainable mass public transport (such as the proposed Integrated Rapid Transit – IRT – system), better pedestrian and bike-commuting facilities, and more urban spaces in which butchery workers can sit and share their lunch, can lay the foundation for a sounder economy and more sustainable, equitable society.

• Yes, we did ;-)

# # #

Gail Jennings is the editor MOBILITY magazine, a quarterly pro-sustainability transport magazine with a focus on public planning, public transport, road safety and the democratic use of road and other public space. Visit http://www.mobilitymagazine.co.za or http://emag.mobilitymagazine.co.za.

Honk: Find-a-parking-spot contest

The city of Tel Aviv has all the natural attributes of a place where carsharing is part of the new mobility solution: tight urban form, plenty of mixed use, high incomes, plenty of people ready to try new ideas (the “Mediterranean’s New Capital of Cool”), and some, it is said, attention to costs. Here is how their carshare operator is calling attention to the Achilles heel of carsharing, parking.

Tel Aviv: ‘Find-a-Parking-Spot Contest’ Highlights Car-Sharing

by Hillel Fendel – http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/133065

How to deliver 24 newly-arrived cars from the port to dealers in Tel Aviv? Have drivers take them there, competing along the way to be the first to find a parking spot!

The contest will be held this Friday and will be used to call attention to both the lack of parking spots in Tel Aviv and the advantages of car-sharing systems gaining in popularity around the world.

Israel’s car-sharing company is Car2Go, which was founded last year in the city of Ulm, Germany. The system’s advantages are that the cars can be rented by the hour or day, picked up and dropped off almost anywhere, and can be reserved with almost no advance

In addition, from municipal and national standpoints, the car-sharing systems offer considerable savings in traffic congestion, pollution, and parking availability. Car2Go reports that each one of its cars replaces 15 cars on the roads and frees up 14 parking spots.

Naom Margalit, who heads the Car2Go company in Israel, would like the Tel Aviv municipality to follow the example set by other cities around the world and designate – for a monthly fee – parking spots for his company. He explains: “The idea for the contest was born when we looked for an original and creative way to get 24 new cars from the importer to the dealers. The competition illustrates the parking problem in Tel Aviv and the daily race for a spot in which Tel Aviv drivers take part, and raises public awareness of the advantages of designating parking spots for us.”

The Tel Aviv municipality is reportedly interested in the idea, but no decision has been made of yet.

The system works roughly as follows: A fleet of vehicles is made available for Car2Go members, parked in specially-designated spots and available for use at any time. A car can be “hired” by flashing one’s driver’s license – equipped with special chips for the purpose – at the windshield, thus checking to see if the car is “taken” or “available.” If the former, the user will be informed of the nearest available car. The customer then gets in, types in his personal PIN number as well as other information, such as the condition of the car, and drives off. When he finishes – an hour, day or even a month later – he parks the car in another designated spot, logs out, and is billed monthly.

Car2Go reports that over 400,000 people currently take part in car-sharing systems in 600 cities in 18 countries around the world. The “Mobility” company is the largest of its kind in Switzerland, which has a population similar to that of Israel, and serves 70,000 drivers with an array of 2,000 cars.

Friday’s contest will be held in three stages. It will begin at the Reading Power Plant parking lot, where 24 pairs of contestants will get into freshly-arrived new cars. At the signal, they will dash off to find parking spaces, in accordance with special instructions they will receive via SMS and envelopes at various points along their trip. Points will be taken off for traffic violations. A vacation for two will be granted to the winner, and other prizes will be awarded to the other contestants.

Downtown? Don’t even think of parking here!

Policy overview of “Strategies for discouraging surface parking lots downtown” by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, noting that some cities implement parking maximums (also called “lids”) which limit the total number of parking spaces in an area, or place a limit on temporary commercial parking lots.

Strategies for discouraging surface parking lots downtown

Parking Maximums http://www.vtpi.org/park_man_comp.pdf – refers to a situation in which an upper limit is placed on parking supply, either at individual sites or in an area. Area-wide limits are called Parking Caps. These can be in addition to or instead of minimum parking requirements (Manville and Shoup, 2005).

Excessive parking supply can also be discouraged by reducing public parking supplies, imposing a special parking tax, and by enforcing regulations that limit temporary parking facilities.

Maximums often apply only to certain types of parking, such as long-term, single-use, free, or surface parking, depending on planning objectives. These strategies are usually implemented in large commercial centers as part of integrated programs to reduce excessive parking supply, encourage use of alternative modes, create more compact development patterns, create more attractive streetscapes, and preserve historic buildings.

It could be argued that maximums are as unnecessary as minimum parking requirements. Parking regulations could simply be eliminated, allowing property owners to determine how much parking to supply at their sites. However, parking minimums have been applied for decades, resulting in well-established transport and land use market distortions. As a result, left to itself the market may be slow to reach an optimal level, so parking maximums may be necessary to achieve quicker benefits.

Since businesses may consider abundant, free, on-site parking to convey a competitive advantage, individual firms often find it difficult to reduce supply. Parking maximums that apply equally to all businesses may be an acceptable and effective way to reduce supply in an area. A study comparing various cities found that (Martens, 2006):

• Many European cities restrict commercial building parking supply, ranging from 270 to 500 square meters of office floor area per parking space (approximately 0.2 to 0.37 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet).

• Management of on-street and off-street public parking spaces is a natural complement of restrictive norms with regard to private parking places.

• Restrictive parking policies and public transport improvements support each other, but major transit service improvements need not precede adoption of parking restrictions.

• Restrictive city center parking policies have been introduced without strict regulations preventing unwanted suburbanization of economic activities.

• Case studies suggest that parking restrictions will not have negative economic impacts if implemented in cities with a strong and vibrant economic structure.

The City of Seattle requires that major institutions which propose to provide more than 135% of minimum required parking supply develop a transportation management plan to help reduce trip generation and parking demand (SMC 23.54.016). San Francisco places a two year limit on the use of vacant downtown parcels for parking lots, to encourage redevelopment (Manville and Shoup, 2005).

For more information on various parking management strategies see:

* Todd Litman (2006), Parking Management Best Practices, Planners Press (www.planning.org); http://www.vtpi.org/PMBP_Flyer.pdf.

* Todd Litman (2006), Parking Management: Strategies, Evaluation and Planning, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org); at http://www.vtpi.org/park_man.pdf.

* Michael Manville and Donald Shoup (2005), “People, Parking, and Cities,” Journal of Urban Planning and Development, December, 2005, pp. 233-245; at http://shoup.bol.ucla.edu/People,Parking,CitiesJUPD.pdf; summarized in Access 25, (www.uctc.net), Fall 2004, pp. 2-8.

* MTC (2007), Developing Parking Policies to Support Smart Growth in Local Jurisdictions: Best Practices, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (www.mtc.ca.gov); at http://www.mtc.ca.gov/planning/smart_growth/parking_seminar/BestPractices.pdf .

* Redwood City (2007), Downtown Parking, Redwood City ( http://www.ci.redwood-city.ca.us/cds/redevelopment/downtown/parking.html). The City’s Parking Management Plan is at http://www.ci.redwood-city.ca.us/cds/redevelopment/downtown/Parking/Downtown%20Redwood%20City%20Parking%20Plan.pdf .

* San Francisco (2009), On-Street Parking Management and Pricing Study, San Francisco County Transportation Authority (www.sfcta.org); at http://www.sfcta.org/content/view/303/149.

* Schaller Consulting (2006), Curbing Cars: Shopping, Parking and Pedestrian Space in SoHo, Transportation Alternatives (www.transalt.org); at http://www.transalt.org/campaigns/reclaiming/soho_curbing_cars.pdf.

* Seattle (2001), Parking: Your Guide to Parking Management, City of Seattle ( http://www.cityofseattle.net/planning/transportation/pdf/Parkingguide.pdf).

* Donald Shoup (1999), “The Trouble With Minimum Parking Requirements,” Transportation Research A, Vol. 33, No. 7/8, Sept./Nov., pp. 549-574; at http://www.vtpi.org/shoup.pdf.

* Ventura (2008), Downtown Parking Ordinance, City of Ventura (www.ci.ventura.ca.us).

* Richard Voith (1998), “The Downtown Parking Syndrome: Does Curing the Illness Kill the Patient?” Business Review, Vol. 1 ( http://www.phil.frb.org/files/br/brjf98dv.pdf), pp 3-14.

* Rachel Weinberger, Mark Seaman and Carolyn Johnson (2008), Suburbanizing the City: How New York City Parking Requirements Lead to More Driving, University of Pennsylvania for Transportation Alternatives ( http://www.transalt.org/files/newsroom/reports/suburbanizing_the_city.pdf).

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Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: litman@vtpi.org. Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560

The Battle for Street Space – Part I

Earning a Public Space Dividend in the Streets

– Paul Barter, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, University of Singapore

Abstract: Experiments with shared space or “naked streets” have captured imaginations and considerable media coverage in recent years. Most of the excitement stems from surprise that streets without kerbs, road markings or signage can work well and achieve “safety through uncertainty”. This paper looks at another equally important insight from shared space.
It focuses on a series of innovations that, like shared space, re-arrange the roles of streets in new ways to yield a “dividend” of expanded urban public realm, with little or no loss of transport utility. Such a space dividend should be especially welcome in dense cities that are both congested and short of public space.

Introduction

What are streets and roadways for? An obvious answer is traffic movement. But that is clearly not the whole story. A second role is to allow the reaching of final destinations— the role we call “access”. Thirdly, streets can be valuable public places in their own right. In addition, moving high-speed motor vehicles differ enormously from movement by low-speed, vulnerable modes such as bicycles. Unfortunately, speedy motor traffic movement and the other roles of streets are in serious conflict. For almost a century, the tension between these roles has been at the heart of debate over street design (Hass-Klau 1990; Jacobs et al. 2002). This article reviews emerging resolutions to this tension.

The Battle for Street Space

The essence of a street is that it serves all these roles simultaneously—providing for traffic movement and access, and as public space for urban activities. However, mainstream roadway management has spent many decades seeking, like Le Corbusier, the “death of the street”. It tends to turn everything between kerbs into “traffic space” where motor vehicle movement is the design priority (Patton 2007).

Motorised traffic, slow modes and pedestrians are strictly segregated in both space and time. The role of streets as “public realm” has been largely restricted to the pavements (sidewalks) and to pedestrian zones. Most cities are desperately short of attractive public space and space for the networks needed by the gentle but vulnerable modes such as walking and cycling.

Since the 1930s, traffic engineers have routinely classified every roadway in a hierarchy according to the degree to which it serves either traffic movement or access. Major arterials and expressways which are at the top of the hierarchy are managed primarily for maximum vehicle mobility. Any access functions are carefully limited to contain “friction” with the mainstream traffic. Only streets at the lowest level of the hierarchy are used mainly for access. Furthermore, the planning process often seeks to remove as much activity as possible (and hence, the “public space” role) from roadways and their vicinity. The influential UK report of 1963, Traffic in Towns by Colin Buchanan, reinforced the idea that segregation was essential (Hamilton-Baillie 2008).

The roadway hierarchy has no place for streets that serve both traffic and multiple other purposes (Svensson 2004). Yet, traditional urban streets and main streets remain ubiquitous. They provide (inadequately) for both access and mobility and are sites of perennial conflict. Such conflict is especially obvious in the heavily used streets of many dense Asian cities. The conventional traffic engineering approach offers little guidance for such multi-role streets (Svensson 2004).

Expanding Public Realm without Evicting Motor Vehicles

Recently, a series of promising street management innovations has emerged that re- assert in new ways the multi-purpose nature of the street. (See Box Story “Innovations that Expand Public Realm in the Streets”.) They offer ways to increase the public realm without removing the motor vehicles or seriously undermining the utility of the motorised traffic system. Does that sound too good to be true?

These innovations exploit common insights and principles. First, they involve making a strong distinction between “traffic areas” or “highway” and public space or the “public realm” (Shared Space project 2005). Traffic areas are the realm of conventional traffic engineering where high-speed motor vehicle movement is primary, with its flow carefully segregated from slower users like pedestrians and cyclists.

Second, some of this redefined “public realm” can be shared. It includes new spaces designed for the peaceful co-existence of public place activities, slow movement by vulnerable modes as well as motor vehicles, especially those seeking access to the vicinity. The key to such co-existence lies in keeping speeds low, ideally to no more than about 30 km/h (Shared Space project, 2005). Low speeds mean that motor vehicles need not be excluded but those present will mainly be making access movements or on the “last mile” (or the first) of their trips.

Third, these innovations shift the boundary between public realm and traffic space, so that a surprising amount of what we now think of as traffic space becomes part of the low-speed public realm. In shared spaces and in other slow zones, such as Tempo 30 zones and bicycle boulevards, whole streets and intersections are converted to public space. In multi-way boulevards, public realm includes everything from the building line to the outer edge of the central, high-speed traffic lanes. This newly expanded public realm serves local motor vehicle access, slow-mode movement, public space roles and sometimes some through-traffic (with low priority and at low speed). Only the high-speed traffic movement is excluded and kept within traffic space.

Fourth, a key design goal is that both the public realm and traffic space should work better by being kept distinct (Shared Space project 2005). Cities still need high-speed traffic space of course, just as some pure pedestrian space must also remain. But a surprising amount of shared public realm could be reclaimed without diminishing total traffic capacity. The key is that most of the expansion of the public realm envisaged here would take over traffic space that does not work very efficiently anyway. For example, the capacity of many of today’s motorised traffic lanes is reduced by turning movements, kerbside drop-offs, parking, loading and other street activities. After transforming such spaces into public realm, the remaining traffic space can be re-designed more thoroughly for its traffic function. Moreover, the new public realm retains some traffic function, albeit at low speed, as a safety valve at times of extreme congestion.

A high percentage of traffic volume in most cities is carried by roads at the top of the roadway hierarchy. Much of the remaining traffic is in fact short-distance traffic, or is on the first or last “mile” of a longer trip, or is circling for a parking spot. Such traffic does not need high speeds. In fact, a slower environment is more appropriate for access movement. Furthermore, although public realm requires very low peak speeds, the approaches discussed here also usually reduce the need for stopping and starting, so that average speeds and travel times are often little changed. Therefore, reclaiming such space as public realm has less impact on traffic performance than one would think based purely on the percentage of traffic space “lost”.

Expanding the low-speed public realm would also allow us to be much more tolerant of a diverse range of small, vulnerable vehicles that currently do not fit easily into our transport systems. These include bicycles, in-line skates, skateboards, kick scooters, wheelchairs and many other “Personal Mobility Devices”.

Barriers to Change

As with most innovations, change will take more than a simple policy decision. In most countries, roadway management practices are deeply embedded in institutions, their missions, objectives, performance-measures and boundaries of responsibility between agencies; in professional guidelines, codes and design standards; and in traffic rules and road user education.

Fortunately, little change is needed in conventional roadway management when it is applied to its appropriate domain i.e. the highspeed arterials and highways. It is only within an expanded public realm and at its boundaries that drastic change is called for. Standard practice must no longer apply to such spaces. Level of service (LOS) has no place here. Nor do conventional approaches to road safety, such as removal of “fixed hazardous objects”. Roadways that form part of the shared public realm should not resemble highways despite the presence of motor vehicles. Design principles for such streets, including signage and road markings, must be different from those for traffic space.

The public realm of streets needs a whole new set of procedures, guidelines and metrics of success. More research is needed to develop them. This is beginning to happen through experimentation in many countries (Shared Space project 2008; Hamilton-Baillie 2008; Jacobs et al. 2002). The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom have revised their guidance manuals on street design (e.g. DfT 2007). Traffic engineers will need to adapt their problem solving to the special challenges of designing shared public realm. They will need to collaborate more with urban design professionals and urban planners, who will also need to take more interest in the streets that they have long neglected.

Conclusion:

This article has provided a quick review of promising new ways to reconcile movement, access and place-making within our precious urban rights of way. New public space is gained through including low-speed access movement by motor vehicles within the public realm. It is this “public space dividend” that has been my focus. It may be too soon to tell if these ideas can deliver on their promise. We may only find out by trying them out.

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This article was first published in the May edition of JOURNEYS, an Academy publication of the Land Transport Authority of Singapore(LTA). We thought that many of our readers might not have picked it up, so we are most pleased to reprint here with their kind permission and that of the author.

Paul Barter is an Assistant Professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore where he teaches infrastructure policy, urban policy, transport policy and an introduction to public policy. He has published studies of transport policy in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. His current research interests are in innovation in transport demand management, public transport regulation, and contested priorities in urban transport policy.