Monday, November 3

The big parking questions

Parking policy is not mundane. Really. It has the ability to literally shape the urban form of a community. Greater Greater Washington reports on some potential changes in D.C.'s parking policy,

"The District of Columbia is taking its rightful place as a leader in progressive parking policy. The Zoning Commission last night agreed with most of the Office of Planning's recommendations to reduce minimum off-street parking requirements, implement targeted maximums, provide car-sharing spaces in large garages, and require bicycle parking and shower facilities."

This is a sensible combination of goals that could create a feedback loop resulting in more efficient use of space and energy. There's a broad consensus among those who study parking that any reduction in parking supply should be accompanied by an encouragement of alternatives to driving, and vice versa. Problems can arise if this balance is thrown off too much.

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute identifies this bundle of strategies D.C. is pursuing as the "new paradigm" of parking policy.

"Old paradigm: motorists should nearly always be able to easily find, convenient, free parking at every destination. Parking planning consists primarily of generous minimum parking requirements, with costs borne indirectly, through taxes and building rents.

New paradigm
: parking facilities should be used efficiently, so parking lots at a particular destination may often fill (typically more than once a week), provided that alternative options are available nearby, and travelers have information on these options. This means, for example, that parking lots have a sign describing available , that motorists may often have a choice between paid parking nearby, or free parking a few blocks away. It also requires good walking conditions between parking facilities and the destinations they may serve. Parking planning can therefore include Shared Parking, Parking Pricing and regulations, parking User Information, and Walkability improvements."

Charlottesville's recent parking study, conducted by Martin Alexiou Bryson and the local Renaissance Planning Group, fits firmly within this new paradigm. They recommend both pricing of on-street parking and providing "good-quality, attractive alternative modes of travel, so that people can and will respond to the price signals."

diagram from Charlottesville Downtown Parking Study

At this point, it remains to be seen whether the City will follow the advice of the consultants, or pursue the course of action recommended by a task force of stakeholders. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14.


LH said...

Thanks for this thoughtful post. We just finished a survey for National Parking Association, which you can find @

Eric Orozco said...

For an affordable development, I'm arguing hard for 2 motorbike spaces in lieu of one required parking space, and reducing my overall footprint that way.

Also...To promote a cultural transition, public facilities should also provide Amsterdam like facilities for bicycle parking...Way more than current practice. An overabundance is needed to spur demand (like reduced headways in transit). Bike parking spaces are comparatively cheap.

There is literally a TON of things the public sector can be doing to wean ourselves off VMT overall. It's great to have progressive places like Charlottesville to point to.

Daniel Nairn said...

There are plans for 12 motorbike spots (which I think only require 2 regular parking spots) for the future. I know that I'm seeing more Vespa-type bikes around, and it would be great to give them a place to park.

Bicycle parking is weaker here than I expected. There are a few public racks, but very few private developments include them. Even by the UVa campus, which really surprises me.