Reforming parking in cities

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#MoveTheDate

10
Days

Reforming how space for parking is allocated in cities has the potential to move Earth Overshoot Day by 10 days.

What is the solution?

Cities can reform their parking using a variety of strategies such as narrowing streets, lowering speed limits, pedestrianizing certain areas, reforming building and zoning codes, implementing demand-responsive pricing, using a “proof of parking” system, to name a few.

This solution improves our resource security in the cities category.

How does it #MoveTheDate?

Cities with reformed parking are more inviting to pedestrians and cyclists by enabling the density necessary to achieve walkable, sustainable neighborhoods. Limited urban parking encourages people to seek more energy efficient modes of transportation.

How is it scalable?

 In urbanized countries, parking can account for up to 0.5% of the total land area, and up to 20% of a city’s surface area. There are many cities whose examples of updated parking policies can be replicated around the world.

What is the solution?

Cities can reform their parking using a variety of strategies such as narrowing streets, lowering speed limits, pedestrianizing certain areas, reforming building and zoning codes, implementing demand-responsive pricing, using a “proof of parking” system, to name a few.

This solution improves our resource security in the cities category.

How does it #MoveTheDate?

Cities with reformed parking are more inviting to pedestrians and cyclists by enabling the density necessary to achieve walkable, sustainable neighborhoods. Limited urban parking encourages people to seek more energy efficient modes of transportation.

How is it scalable?

 In urbanized countries, parking can account for up to 0.5% of the total land area, and up to 20% of a city’s surface area. There are many cities whose examples of updated parking policies can be replicated around the world.

Every car trip begins and ends with a parking spot. Consequently, a city’s parking policy – which affects the distribution and availability of parking spots – directly influences the degree to which a private vehicle is a convenient mode of urban transportation. In almost every city on Earth, 20th century transportation policy prioritized the facilitation of efficient, congestion-free automobile travel. This was accomplished via the construction of new roads and highways, but also by the implementation of zoning codes and building codes which encourage the provision of as much parking as possible. Three forms of parking appeared: On-site parking, with minimum quantities mandated through zoning codes; curb-side parking, which was integrated into new road designs; and off-street parking garages, which are often subsidized by local governments.

Over the past 2 decades an increasing number of cities around the world have begun to push back against the automobile, recognizing its harmful long-term impacts to health, livability, and the greater environment. Different regions of the world have approached the problem of parking in a variety of ways: 

  • European cities, with historic town centers which are generally ill-equipped to accommodate cars, were the first to intentionally make car travel less convenient – by narrowing streets, lowering speed limits, pedestrianizing certain areas, and finally by updating building codes to limit the presence of parking in dense urban areas.
  • Latin American cities, which have seen exploding levels of automobile ownership, and with it levels of congestion and pollution, have been following in the footsteps of European cities by reforming building codes to prioritize density and walkability over parking, however at a far greater scale than in Europe.
  • In North America, the city of San Francisco has pioneered the concept of demand-responsive pricing. In this model, the cost of parking fluctuates in real time to optimize the use of urban space, make sure parking is always available for those who need it, and limiting pollution and congestion caused by “cruising” for parking (which makes up 34% of traffic in urban areas on average). 
  • Finally, Japanese cities maintained their density and walkability despite their significant automobile industry in part by adopting a “proof of parking” system. Cars can only be registered if the owner shows proof (in the form of a certificate) that they have access to a parking space. This places the responsibility of providing parking on the drivers themselves, rather than on the city government.

There’s no benefit in waiting!

Acting now puts you at a strategic advantage in a world increasingly defined by ecological overshoot. Countless solutions exist that #MoveTheDate. They’re creative, economically viable, and ready to deploy at scale. With them, we can make ourselves more resilient and #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day. If we move the date 6 days each year, humanity can be out of overshoot before 2050.