Monday, January 15, 2018

Park Once, Walk Everywhere: Designing Parking to Support Walkability

One of the keys to creating a successful, walkable downtown is to design the area so you only have to park your vehicle once. These types of areas generally require on-street parking, parkades, and other shared facilities to handle parking demand. On-site parking for specific sites is not prioritized, or is actively discouraged through zoning.

The Langley Bypass is an example of how providing on-site parking for each business does not create a walkable area. In contrast Downtown Langley, especially around the Fraser Highway one-way, relies more on shared parking facilities and on-street parking.

For an interesting blogpost on specific parking policies to support walkable areas, I suggest reading “Walkable Parking: How to Create Park-Once-and-Walk Districts” by Paul Barter.

This weekend, I was in Downtown Kelowna. Downtown Kelowna consists of mostly low- and mid-rise buildings. Providing on-site parking to meet all the needs for these types of buildings would have resulted in large surface parking lots. Requiring low- and mid-rise, mixed-use buildings to include underground parking would have actively discouraged redevelopment.

The City of Kelowna manages three parkades in Downtown Kelowna, on-street parking, and some surface parking lots. They also have implemented a wayfinding system to encourage long-term parking in parkades. These parkades include on-street displays which show the amount of parking available in each facility.

Memorial Parkade including green, dynamic available parking sign. Parkade includes street front office space. Select image to enlarge.

Poorly designed parkades can degrade the walkability of an area. This is not the case for the two most recent parkades built in Downtown Kelowna. They include active street fronts with parking access from the side of the structures, not the front.

The following picture shows a new restaurant that is being opened in one of the parkades nearest the central library branch in Downtown Kelowna.

Library Plaza Parkade includes ground-level retail. Select image to enlarge.

Walkable areas require people who drive to these areas to park once for the day. This means that people must be able to leave their cars parked for as long as they want. Currently, this is not possible in Downtown Langley.

Given the successful transformation of Downtown Kelowna over the last decade, I believe that a parkade would be beneficial in Downtown Langley. Building a parkade would not only support the park-once model, but it would also facilitate more ground-level retail redevelopment projects in our downtown core.

No comments: