Thoughts: The Importance of On-Street Parking

by Jason on October 7, 2011

I love walking, and sidewalks.

Walking is a carbon-free method of transport that allows you to move wherever you want with the most mobility possible. The additional health benefits are welcomed as well, as those living in walkable neighborhoods are on average 6 pounds lighter than those living in more vehicle dependent places. These are just some of the reasons I love walking.

I also really love sidewalks. It is amazing what little things can be done to make a sidewalk seem more appealing to pedestrians. A while ago, I came across an interesting article on The Importance of On-Street Parking by Steve Mouzon of Original Green. I was skeptical at first, as I believe most trends point us away from cars, and an effective way to do that is to take away parking. What are the points of on-street parking if the increase in vehicle use may cause more congestion?

Well, the interesting thing is that the effects may be psychological or subconscious for pedestrians. The article had interesting points: both innate and obvious, that really reinforces the argument for on-street parking.

Here are the article’s highlights and reasons why on-street parking is essential:

Commercial Parking Lots

  • Having parking lots in front will create unfriendly setback from the sidewalk to the store. Parking on the side creates “snaggle tooth” interference to the walking experience. Parking in the rear changes the priority of the main entrance from the front to the back. Thus parking lots in general are a detriment to walkers.

Residential Parking

  • Without on-street parking, drive ways get longer and wider. They cause heat sinks that make it uncomfortable for pedestrians, as well as increase the probably of getting hit by a car backing out.

Parking Decks

  • Giant parking structures are boring, ugly, and scary structures to walk by, and pedestrians will flee.

Liner Buildings

  • These are solutions to the parking decks, by having small shops “line” or wrap around the parking decks. You may also do so with office spaces on higher floors.

The Pedestrian Shield

  • On-street parking allows the pedestrian to feel safer, when there’s a car separating the walker from traveling automobiles.

Thriving Retail

  • On-street making means a lot of business for retail stores along the street front, with people willing to travel further along a more stimulating main street.

As the move towards a more pedestrian and transit-oriented society continues, what is to become the fate of the automobile? I don’t believe that the car will ever disappear, but alternatives to cars are encouraged. Yet, car culture has brought about its own impact in the urban cityscape, with benefits as well as negatives, some definitely more inherent than others.

I love sidewalks, imagining the tall trees and street lights that populate a thriving one. Wide sidewalks with benches, flower pots, and kids playing hot scotch on the side. As I think about it now, I do feel that having a car parked on the side does give me an added sense of security, in case a vechicle flies out of control, swirling around and exploding down the street.

Found a bear in a van, which is made possible by on-street parking.

Well, maybe not if the car is exploding.

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