Monday, August 23, 2010

Parking and Roads

I remember a transportation planner telling me once that after four laning and installing left/right turn bays, expanding roads is just about expanding traffic volume. He said pick the number of lanes that you want: four, six, eight and you will get congestion at four, six, or eight lanes. In 1991, the City of Vancouver had a population of 471,844. Today Vancouver has a population of 628,621: that's like adding a whole City and Township of Langley into Vancouver! Do you know how many roads they expanded in the City of Vancouver in that same time? 0.

You have to take it with a grain of salt when politicians in the South of Fraser decry the lack of proper roads in the sub-region and champion for more roads. Sadly many of these decrying politicians religiously believe that we need to build bigger roads, against the vast majority of research that is to the contrary. We know that building mixed-use and more dense is the solution for giving people better accessibility and that got me thinking about parking.

One of the things that prevents higher density in the South Fraser are minimum parking requirements. Building structured parking is big dollars, so parking gets built on the surface reducing density. What our municipalities should be doing is setting maximum parking requirements and let free-market economics deal with the rest. Parking is not priced properly in many of parts of our region. My work installed a free latte machine and it lasted for one week, the cost was too much for the company. The latte machine is like parking, if you give it away it's going to get used up. Change a nominal fee, and you'll see a rational use of it.

As Gordon Price said at our of our events, "Show me your parking by-laws, and I'll show you what your city will look like." What do we want our cities to look like?

1 comment:

Brandon said...

The City of Vancouver has a great stats page. Check this out:

The cost of an underground parking stall (including land and construction costs) in Vancouver ranges from $30,000 to $50,000 or even higher.

Wowza. A lot of cash just to park a car.

Higher density areas have fewer cars: In the Collingwood Village about 22% of households are car free. In the West End and Yaletown nearly 40% of households are car-free (source: City of Vancouver Parking Management Branch).