The dominance of parking has devastated once-vibrant downtowns by turning large areas into uninviting paved spaces that contribute to urban heating and stormwater runoff. It has driven up housing costs, since developers pass on the cost of providing parking to tenants and homebuyers. And it has perpetuated people’s reliance on driving by making walking, biking and public transit far less attractive, even for the shortest trips. Why, then, does the U.S. have so much of it?
Research from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) finds that strategies such as providing parking cash-outs, offering commuter benefits, and eliminating subsidized parking could drastically reduce commute VMT in cities. The study also concluded that the implementation of these strategies and the resulting decline in VMT could reduce congestion, emissions, and serious traffic crashes.
More studies over the years have shown us that the price and availability of parking has a strong influence on people’s travel choices. A ten-year-old study from New York, for instance, called attention to the influence of parking availability on people’s decision to drive to work. Several years later, I led a study connecting long-term parking growth to citywide increases in car commuting. Now a new study by a cohort of researchers across North America, including myself, makes that connection even clearer by drawing a direct line from residential parking ratios to household VMT.
Over time, transportation demand management has shifted from mainly reducing single occupancy commute trips to something more encompassing, a larger shift toward active and shared transportation for all types of trips made by all types of people.
We know that employer-provided free parking tends to increase auto-commute trips and that employer-provided transit passes tend to reduce auto-commute trips. Research is less clear about the effect on vehicle-miles traveled, however, in part because we don’t know whether or how such employment practices might affect non-work travel. A new paper using travel survey data from the Seattle area, sheds new light on the VMT question.
Owing to the rising popularity of ecommerce, expedited deliveries, ride-hailing services, and micromobility options, curb space is in demand now more than ever. Because curbside is a public property, the burden of efficiently allocating this commodity comes down to city officials. However, despite being valuable real estate, a recent study demonstrates how city staff presently do not have the data or tools to efficiently prioritize the distribution of curb space, let alone profit from it.
People using park-and-ride stations don’t seem to mind a longer overall commute, according to new research, as long as the station is close to home. In other words, it’s probably better to think of park-and-ride lots more like local feeders than as regional access points.
Micromobility devices, such as scooters and bicycles are sometimes portrayed as scattered about in the public right- of-way, impeding everyone. Looking at the entire right-of-way, how much are bicycles and scooters actually culpable for obstruction? A new paper examines improperly parked scooters, bicycles, and motor vehicles, finding that the biggest offenders are actually motor vehicle drivers.
Parking reform is a growing priority for cities and towns across the U.S. This has important implications for transportation professionals, outlined in a recent webinar from SSTI, the Form-Based Code Institute, and Smart Growth America.
Parking issues have a measurable effect on businesses’ reputations, according to a recent study, but there are important exceptions. Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs aren’t as vulnerable to parking complaints, for instance, and the effects don’t seem to hold when parking is shared among businesses.