Friday, February 20, 2009


The United States Environmental Protection Agency released a report on parking and the environment. The report also suggests Smart Growth management techniques for dealing with parking.

Why does the EPA care about parking? The report states that “research shows that development reflecting smart growth principles can lead to reduced growth in air pollution and less polluted runoff into streams and lakes.” In your typical non-smart growth commercial development parking can take up to 54% of a site. When it rains, all the pollution from the parking lot gets dumped into drains that flow into our streams. When we build our cites around people, air pollution is “reduced because [mixed-use] areas make it easier for some people to choose to walk and bike for some trips, and others will be able to drive shorter distances or take transit.”

Anyway parking isn’t a bad thing, but it is something that we needs to take a closer look at. Malls can have too much parking, while downtown business can have too little. You can read the full report with case studies, but here are some parking management techniques. PS: Parking management is good for business too. Seattle’s “SAFECO also reduced the amount of ground that needed to be paved by 100,000 square feet, leading to less runoff in this rainy area. The company saves an estimated $230,000 per year, after accounting for the costs of incentives and the savings from reducing the amount of parking built.”
In calculating parking requirements, planners typically use generic standards that apply to individual land-use categories, such as residences, offices, and shopping. The most commonly used guidelines, issued by the Institute of Transportation Engineers in the Parking Generation Handbook (ITE, 2004), are based on observations of peak demand for parking at single-use developments in relatively low-density settings with little transit… For more compact, mixed-use, walkable places, these standards end up calling for far more parking than is needed.

Parking Strategies

Context-Specific Requirement: Mixed-use areas require less parking than a low-density, single-use mega-mart store with no transit access. Each site needs to be evaluated differently.

Shared Parking: Office, entertainment and retail have different peak parking demands during the day. In mixed developments this can be accounted for and parking reduced.

Car-Sharing: Car-sharing is a neighborhood-based, short-term vehicle rental service that makes cars easily available to residents on a pay-per-use basis. Members have access to a common fleet of vehicles, parked throughout neighborhoods so they are within easy walking distance, or at transit stations.

Subsidies for Transit: Employer-subsidized transit pass can reduce the need for parking.

Transit Improvements: One of the best ways to reduce the demand for parking is to improve transit service so that it is frequent, convenient, and easy to use.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities: Build them!

Transportation Demand Management Programs: Programs to decrease the number of trips by single-occupant vehicles, sometimes setting goals such as reduced vehicle trips or reduced miles traveled, while increasing the use of a variety of commutingnand travel alternatives, including transit, carpooling, walking, and bicycling.

Pricing Strategies: Use a market-based approach to parking. Reduce demand by charging for it at work and in retail areas.

Centralized Parking, In-Lieu Fees: Centralized parking facilities can meet urban design goals if they allow the elimination of small surface parking lots and driveways that interrupt the walkable fabric of mixed-use areas. Centralized parking enables travelers to park once to visit several destinations, potentially reducing on-street congestion from short trips within an area. Instead of each development building parking, they all pay into a common pool.

Building Parking Around People



Good and Bad

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