Carsharing saves city governments millions

Migrating city fleets to car-sharing has been able to reduce the size of those fleets by 50-75%, and increase vehicle utilization from 30 to 70%, which means way less in the way of city capital costs dedicated to cars.  It also means a lot of policymakers getting much more familiar with the sharing economy.

How Google’s Driving Costs Misses the Train

A fun critique of the estimated driving costs that you get from Google Maps, from Alex Steffen.  The costs of driving are largely (mostly?) systemic, and external to the individual, and predicated on an assumption of car ownership, and a mile-for-mile interchangeability between driving trips and walking/biking/transit trips, which is empirically wrong.  People who don’t rely on cars for transportation do the same things in far fewer miles (3 to 9 times fewer, depending on the urban fabric they are embedded within).

Taking Parking Lots Seriously, as Public Spaces

An article from the New York Times about the architecture of parking lots, and how they might be much better used as public spaces with some design tweaks. Some cities like Houston and LA, dedicate a full third of their land area to parking lots, creating hard paved urban deserts and storm runoff disasters. They say that simply suggesting that we “buy fewer cars” is glib (I disagree) but clearly point out the folly of requiring vast quantities of parking by law, and then giving it away for free, thus hiding the true costs.

More Roads = More Traffic

A new study from the University of Toronto clearly shows that additional free road capacity — either from adding actual road, or shifting people from driving to transit — has no effect on congestion.  Traffic expands to fill the available capacity, no matter how much you add, and the net public benefit from the investment in additional road capacity is negative.

The High Cost of Free Parking in Boulder

Antisocial Facades

Over the last year or so, I’ve been involved with the planning and design of the public space which will accompany some of the first re-developments in the Transit Village/Boulder Junction, mostly Pearl Parkway between 30th St. and the railroad tracks.  I’ve primarily given feedback as a cyclist and pedestrian — someone who uses our streets under my own power.  Even in Boulder, those of us who don’t own, and only very rarely use private motor vehicles are still unusual.  Nevertheless, the long term goal of the TVAP is to have 60% of all trips in the region done by foot, bike or transit — anything but the much loved and loathed single occupancy vehicle (SOV).  I was particularly taken by something Tim Plass said in the PLAN Boulder election forum this fall when asked to envision Boulder 30 years in the future: Every once in a while you’ll see an electric car on the road, but mostly it’ll be bikes and pedestrians and transit.  I agree with these goals; we should pursue them vigorously.  But the city being described by Plass and the TVAP is very different from the status quo today, and it’s difficult to take the steps necessary to realize it.  Sometimes I think of myself as a time-traveling constituent from this future city, describing what it is that we will want then, when the majority of people aren’t driving a private car everywhere they go.  One thing that I’m confident we won’t want is so much “free” parking.

Continue reading The High Cost of Free Parking in Boulder

Parking Price Elasticity in San Francisco

Prices affect parking less than San Francisco expected, in its ongoing SFPark experiment, fully implementing dynamic parking prices with target occupancy rates.  Apparently people are willing to pay quite a bit more to be right next to their destination, instead of even one block away.  Either that, or they don’t realize how much parking prices vary block by block.  Perhaps each of the parking kiosks should have a prominent street-facing display, readable by drivers, advertizing the price they charge per hour?

Twelve Car-Free City Zones

Twelve Car-Free City Zones in photos, from National Geographic.  Many north americans can’t really imagine what cities are like without cars.  It took me a long time to realize that what I didn’t like about cities wasn’t the urban space, it was the fact that here, it tends to be infested with rude 1500 kg beasts.

Counting Parking Spots, From Above

A couple of researchers inferred the rate of parking supply growth in New Haven, Cambridge and Hartford from aerial photographs, between 1950 and 2010.  Both Connecticut cities had explosive parking growth, even while their populations were declining.  Cambridge enacted parking maxima in 1985, and its shrinking population trend reversed.  Thus parking is not required to facilitate growth.  Felix Salmon comments on the paper as well:

Parking lots are — with only a handful of exceptions — the best possible way of destroying a city’s soul. They’re gruesome, lifeless places, and I’m constantly astonished by the way in which governments and developers are convinced that they’re a great idea.