The excellent Tom Vanderbilt is the man I always want to call when I'm inching down Massachusetts Avenue in the morning, and wishing I hadn't driven. He's a traffic genius — he studies that odd intersection (GET IT!?) between roadways, and the mind of drivers. His book, Traffic, is one of those great non-fiction reads that almost everyone will find fascinating.
He doesn't just deal with driving — he deals with parking. In a new article in Slate, Vanderbilt suggests that there is a ton of research to suggest that cities should do away with parking minimums (which I had no idea even existed).
Instead of requiring minimum parking thresholds, parking maximums should be set. As Norman Garrick and Wes Johnson have pointed out, the goal of meeting parking demand in cities is an elusive, ultimately self-destructive quest. As they note, people complain of Hartford, Conn., that there "is not enough parking," when in fact nearly one-third of the city is paved over with parking lots. "The truth is that many cities like Hartford have simultaneously too much and too little parking. They have too much parking from the perspective that they have degraded vitality, interest and walkability, with bleak zones of parking that fragment the city. They have too little parking for the exact same reason — they have degraded walkability and thus increased the demand for parking."
I know, it seems odd — I've driven around Boston for what seems like hours trying to just LAND THE CAR. But the argument for a more walkable city also really appeals ... and, it's the reason I'm leaving my car at home, and avoiding Mass. Ave. entirely from now on.