in Urban Change

Free Parking


Ever since the High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup hit the bookstores, the density killer (AKA – the private car) is getting more and more attention.  As editor of Access Magazine, his introduction to the issue on parking is brilliant as in even, “staunch conservatives turn into ardent communists”.  

Community development policies that maximize density are not about cars or big buildings, they are about recognizing choices and changes in lifestyle that people want and need in the course of their lives and that of their families. The urban design quality problems are mostly solved. Excellent examples stand for replication and improvements. Now it is a matter of getting people to pay attention to new choices. One of them is high-quality downtown living, regardless of income.

The map that follows is a brilliant piece of work because it goes right to places that can be compared for their differences and similarities. A dense part of New York City, such as Manhattan can deliver as many as 10,000 people per hour to any of a hundred locations simultaneously. Each in their right is a small town serviced by a combination of mass transit, safe streets, and private vehicles.

With the support of Planetizen the outfit, Strong Towns organized by Charles Marohn is in the business of “listening to be heard” with this project.  They seek the participation of about 1M people on the subject of urban living. The thing to pay attention to here is the growth of an urbanized constituency in these organizations.  It hints at the possibility of an urban agenda.

I looked up NYC (where free parking does not exist) and then to Newark on the map above. Bang – the lesson is crystal clear.  Newark offers developers a huge bonus by providing a “no off-street parking” requirement if the housing commercial center project is within 1,200 feet of a rail station.  Whoopee!

Use or create a map such as the following to find strong towns that offer people lifestyle choices without autos, with excellent access to convenience goods and services and direct access to resources that may require a larger market area such as a hospital.

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