ITDP Report Finds Greener, Cheaper Alternatives to “Free” Parking

Press Contact: Claudia Gunter, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
(646) 839-6479, cgunter@itdp.org

New Report Finds Greener, Cheaper Alternatives to “Free” Parking
Report Examines High Costs of Parking, Offers Sustainable, Better Practice, Alternatives for U.S. Policy Makers

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New York, NY, February 23, 2010—Ninety-nine percent of all U.S. driving trips end in a free parking space, but when the economic and environmental consequences are considered, these parking spots aren’t really “free” after all. Smarter parking management can benefit consumers and businesses in time and money saved, according to a report released today by Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). Click here to download the report.

“U.S. Parking Policies: An Overview of Management Strategies,” cowritten by Professor Rachel Weinberger of the University of Pennsylvania, John Kaehny, and Matthew Rufo, illustrates how parking management in most U.S. cities creates additional traffic and air pollution, and feeds auto-dependence. As long as parking is considered independently of transportation policy, parking demand and traffic will continue to increase in the form of excess auto trips, on-street parking shortages, and a decline in the overall pedestrian environment. Traditional parking policy prioritizes private automobile use, undermining the use of public transit, walking and bicycling as travel modes, spurring significantly higher household travel costs for Americans.

“The poorly conceived parking policies found in the majority of U.S. cities are a major impediment to creating an effective and balanced urban transportation system,” says the report’s author Professor Rachel Weinberger. “There is a growing movement in many U.S. cities to manage parking demand with policies that encourage balanced transportation systems.”

In the last five to ten years, U.S. transportation planners have become much more aware of the impact of parking on congestion, air quality, economic development and the pedestrian environment. The report examines good parking management strategies that have been implemented in the cities of Boulder, Cambridge, Chicago, New York, Portland, and San Francisco, and makes policy recommendations to U.S. decision makers.

“Weinberger, Kaehny, and Rufo show how cities can begin to repair the damage caused by decades of bad planning for parking,” says University of California, Los Angeles, Professor Donald Shoup, author of “The High Cost of Free Parking.” “The authors recommend reforms that can create many benefits ranging from making it easier to find a parking space all the way up to slowing climate change. The case studies of six cities that have reformed their parking policies provide clear blueprints that any city can adapt to fit the local circumstances.”

“Smarter parking policies could help American workers and consumers save time and money,” says Michael Replogle, Global Policy Director and Founder of ITDP, who coauthored the report’s foreword. “Many aspects of current U.S. parking policies just don’t work. We need to use these new parking principles to reduce the costly hidden subsidies that force Americans to spend a much higher share of their income on transportation than citizens of other countries while spurring climate change, air pollution, and energy insecurity.”

Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and other U.S. cities are experimenting with new parking policies and other cities can learn from them. Through more sensible parking management, the authors assert, we can improve our cities, the environment, the economy, and overall quality of life. To receive a copy of the report, click here or contact Claudia Gunter at cgunter@itdp.org or (646) 839-6479.