In the beginning of 2019, the City of Rio de Janeiro approved new building codes to restrict off-street parking and promote non-motorized transport by removing parking minimums, making Rio the first Brazilian city to pass parking legislation. This ruling comes after years of advocacy by ITDP Brazil, such as the 2017 study on Rio de Janeiro’s parking legislation, and places Rio de Janeiro in the company of other Latin American city leaders in parking reform including Mexico City.
For almost 50 years, the legislation of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second most-populous municipality, has given cars priority in land space and usage. In 1967, following a worldwide trend, the city mandated parking minimums, requiring at least one vehicle parking space for every one housing unit. Parking minimums, which are common in cities around the world, require developers to build large amounts of parking regardless of the market demand or transit accessibility. This results in cities ceded huge amounts of space for parking cars, at the expense of much bigger needs, such as housing, public spaces, and cycling and walking infrastructure. Parking minimums also increase housing costs, and limit mobility and accessibility in the city overall.
The much-needed update to an outdated parking policy removes a mandate for a minimum of one space per housing unit for buildings within 800 meters of transit, and replaces it with a maximum of one parking space for every four residential units. It is also now mandatory to offer bike parking facilities at a minimum of one space per housing unit.
ITDP Brazil used a variety of different avenues to advocate for new off-street parking and TOD policy parameters in Rio de Janeiro’s urban laws. After the release of the aforementioned study on Rio de Janeiro’s parking legislation, ITDP Brazil found that 42% of the built area in Rio de Janeiro from 2006-2015 was dedicated to vehicles. When examining specifically non-residential buildings, the land space dedicated to parking jumped to 70%. After further analysis, it was discovered that space dedicated to vehicles could address 57% of the city’s housing deficit with 60 square meter housing units.
Following with the release of the study, ITDP Brazil hosted various workshops and webinars with city officials on off-street parking policies in Rio, advocating for parking restrictions, more rapid transit, and increasing options for sustainable mobility. Engaging with planners, public managers, and government representatives, and sharing success stories from ITDP Mexico’s parking reform success resulted in ITDP contributing to the revision of the city’s land use policy with TOD and parking reform.