Public Places: for People or for Parking?

photo from Momentum Mag

Great idea: Rethinking parking – From coast to coast and in middle America, more sensible parking policies are taking hold and may be the quickest path to urban revitalization.

CNU’s “Public Square” editor Robert Steuteville interviewed Donald Shoup, UCLA professor and author of The High Cost of Free Parking, and Jeffrey Tumlin, director of strategy for Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, transportation planners and engineers, on how new ways of thinking about parking are transforming the American landscape.

This wide-ranging interview describes how required provisions for automobile parking have shaped urban areas, especially downtowns, in ways that discourage and defeat walkability. Many examples serve to illustrate this quickly disappearing paradigm. The interviewees also highlight the rapidly increasing number of municipalities that are removing minimum parking requirements from zoning bylaws, and the upsurge in urban revitalization that follows.

In Canada, some cities are following suit in removing parking minimums, most notably around transit hubs. A discussion about removing parking minimums from developments around the downtown and waterfront area in Brockville could be of local benefit especially if coupled with a parking garage that would provide the convenience of “park once then walk”.

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Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is a US nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago and Washington.
“The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) helps create vibrant and walkable cities, towns, and neighborhoods where people have diverse choices for how they live, work, shop, and get around. People want to live in well-designed places that are unique and authentic. CNU’s mission is to help build those places.”

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.

4 thoughts on “Public Places: for People or for Parking?”

  1. Agreed, Jennifer. We need to keep “all ages, all abilities” in mind in all that we do.

  2. This post has many examples of increasing walkability in communities but I wonder how these communities accommodate people with mobility issues. Is there low cost previsions in place for people that have mobility issues to access employment and community sites?
    It would be interesting to see how they have met this challenge.

    1. While I don’t follow progress on the accessibility front as closely, I do see that those communities making good progress on becoming more walk and bike friendly tend to be more progressive all-round in putting needs of people first, and that includes those living with various disabilities. The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is usually a good source of information on anything related to transportation, and this paper is a good start:

      1. Accessibility has a different definition when applied to transportation planning. It appears that transportation is addressed in isolation as it addresses the most efficient way to move able bodied people. Mobility substitutions such as telecommunication would isolate people. People using wheel chairs and those that use mobility aids will need shorter destinations. Low cost accessible transit may have to be a major consideration to be inclusive.
        We must be careful to plan for all modes of transportation and all abilities.
        Active transportation is a very important way of getting around our communities but for some it is not an option and people of all abilities should be considered when looking at transportation options.

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