Parking Reform Could Reenergize Downtowns – Here’s What Happened When Buffalo Changed its Zoning Rule

By Daniel Baldwin Hess, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo, and Jeffrey Rehler, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo. Originally published at The Conversation.

For urban planners, parking rules established decades ago have become a contentious 21st-century challenge. Parking takes up about one-third of land area in U.S. cities; nationwide, there are an estimated eight parking spaces for every car.

In 2017 Buffalo, New York, became the first U.S. city to stop requiring development projects to include at least a minimum amount of parking. Other cities followed, including Hartford, Connecticut, and Santa Monica, California. Many cities are now considering reforms, and a bill pending before the California Legislature would remove minimums for new buildings near public transportation across the Golden State.

But despite growing support for parking reform, there is little data showing how such changes affect urban development. As part of our work on urban planning, we quantified changes in construction during the first two years after Buffalo adopted its new “Green Code,” repealing minimum parking requirements citywide.

We found that the Green Code is changing Buffalo’s urban form in ways that had been difficult, if not impossible, under former zoning rules. As local leaders seek to reenergize the urban core and spark a post-industrial renaissance, public transit is now a priority. Inactive storefronts, underutilized historic structures and former industrial buildings are being rehabilitated, and vacant parcels are being developed in fragmented neighborhoods.

Most Building Codes Prioritize Cars

With rapid post-World War II development and an explosion in car ownership, cities and towns across the U.S. introduced minimum parking requirements during the 1950s. These zoning ordinances required new buildings to include off-street parking lots. The mandates remain nearly universal across America, raising real estate prices, bringing more cars into cities, increasing air pollution and carbon emissions and lowering use of public transportation.

Parking standards were created arbitrarily, without adequate data. Zoning laws usually require one parking space per apartment, one per 300 square feet of commercial development and one per 100 square feet for restaurants. For context, a parking space measures 160 square feet on average, plus additional area for driveways and driving lanes, so an eatery’s parking lot may be three times the size of its dining area.

Since the 2005 publication of UCLA urban planning scholar Donald Shoup’s “The High Cost of Free Parking,” many people have begun to question the amount of precious urban land currently used for storing cars. Planners, developers, urbanistsand nonprofits are now offering market-driven strategies to realign off-street parking supply and demand.

Prioritizing cars limits space for housing, businesses, parks and other land uses that benefit citizens and contribute to local tax bases. It also increases construction costs, which are then passed on to tenants and buyers. In Los Angeles, for example, each parking space costs developers at least US$50,000 – a price tag that has scuttled some development projects.

In 2016 Portland, Oregon, waived parking requirements for affordable housing developments, showing how zoning changes could make urban housing more available and affordable.

Buffalo’s Natural Experiment in Parking Reform

Buffalo’s long-standing zoning code, established in 1953, reflected the emergence and dominance of the automobile as America’s transportation mode of choice. Inflexible minimums ensured plentiful parking at bowling alleys, dance halls and skating rinks. The code did not ease parking provisions for mixed-use development or offer flexibility to reduce parking at small businesses providing neighborhood necessities.

The result: Nearly half of downtown Buffalo was converted to parking lots. Locals joked about parking: “If the goal was to destroy downtown, we only halfway succeeded.”

Our review of the Green Code’s initial effects found that from April 2017 to April 2019, the amount of off-street parking included in new building projects varied widely. Developers of 14 sites mixing retail space and residential units incorporated 53% fewer parking spaces than required under previous zoning. Four added no parking, opting instead to share parking with other properties.

In contrast, many single-use developers maintained or exceeded former parking requirements. Despite city leaders’ ambitions for more accessible transportation options, the car remains king in development plans for office buildings and townhomes, hampering reform in a region characterized by suburban sprawland travel habits based on car ownership.

Despite these challenges, we found that developers of 36 major projects – including two large housing complexes targeted to graduate students, with over 200 units apiece – included 47% fewer parking spaces than previous zoning required. One-third of the developments in our study made parking an amenity, charging user fees rather than bundling it into rent or purchase prices. Overall, the Green Code encouraged less parking in transit-rich locations along primary commercial corridors.

Optimizing Land Use

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed development projects worldwide. Though personal automobile use dominated COVID-19-era transportation for many, there is broad support now for returning to a pre-pandemic focus on making urban places more dense, with a focus on walkable neighborhoods. Millennials and Generation Zers drive less than previous generations. Growing numbers of people working from home and shopping online are reshaping traditional urban commutes and travel.

Without minimum requirements, costly and land-consuming off-street parking becomes an option instead of a mandate, paid for by those who use it. Rethinking car-centric urban planning allows for more green space, transit-oriented development and active living.

Rethinking Urban Landscapes

Zoning is just one piece of a larger urban design puzzle that also must factor in location, market demand for parking and land use priorities. Good public transportation is also key to eliminating parking capacity. The Biden administration has signaled a commitment to public transportation.

Though development slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the desire for livable urban places has not. Nor has the need for affordable housing. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has introduced a bill that highlights the need for equitable development to address the nation’s affordable housing crisis. It would withhold funds from development in areas that require parking minimums.

Meanwhile, parking reform is gaining momentum. In May 2021 Minneapolis struck down minimum parking requirements for new development as part of its climate and greenhouse gas emission goals. From San Diego and Salt Lake City to Raleigh, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia, cities are considering similar changes. In the future, U.S. cities could look quite different, designed for citizens rather than parked cars.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

43 comments

  1. PlutoniumKun

    The destruction of urban areas from an obsession with catering for cars is enormous. Its not just parking, its often apparently simple requirements for vehiclular access that can result in a huge waste of land for unnecessary road junctions and links. Thankfully, worldwide, cities are reclaiming those areas for better uses. Even in car mad South Korea overpasses have been converted into beautiful urban parks.

    In Japan, one interesting local code is that to register a car (except for Kei cars) you must demonstrate that you have a permanent parking space. And there is no default right to park on any part of the street, and very few areas are permitted for street parking. The result is a lot of destruction of urban areas for private carparks, but at least has the benefit of keeping most narrow streets pedestrian and cyclist friendly. It shows clearly how apparently simple default rules on parking or zoning can fundentally change urban forms.

    In Europe in nearly all urban areas it has been policy to restrict car parking going back decades, but its a very slow process, with opposition all the way. The beautiful pedestrian and cycling dominated streets of the Netherlands or Denmark took decades to develop – people are often shocked to see photos of those streets from the 1960’s or 70’s – they were as car choked and polluted as many US or Chinese downtowns. It took a lot of time to free them up. But one very positive outcome of Covid is that many cities (excluding, sadly, my inept local city government) have taken positive steps to remove street parking and replace it with wider pavements, cycle paths, and open air street dining areas. Hopefully, these will become permanent.

    I’ve often thought that one of the simplest and most effective forms of urban taxation would be a simple tax on parking spaces. It would be very easy to administer and could be very effective at releasing parking land for more socially useful purposes. It would force big box retailers to minimise their land take to what they really need. And it could be a major driver to persuading the owners of urban multi-storey caparks to redevelop into homes or offices.

    Reply
    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      I’ve lived in the Twin Cities in one of the most congested parking areas prior to the purposeful policy decisions to bring wealthy people back into the city’s core. Life without a car was fine if one had the money to travel by taxi. Public transportation was decent at the time, depending on one’s work hours. But miss that express bus during rush hour and frankly you were screwed if you lived out in the burbs.

      Want to go from Minneapolis to St. Paul. 10-15 minutes in a car (non-rush hour or by hitting the traffic seam). It can easily take an hour and a half to two hours one way on public transportation. Longer depending on where one starts and needs to go. Throw in transfers and non-rush hour schedules… That’s a huge huge tax on time.

      Want to play volleyball, soccer, softball, etc. Public transportation would be a joke so the hosting site better be in your neighborhood or someone on your team needs to pick you and your equipment up.

      We haven’t started talking about Twin Cities winter weather or traveling on public transit with anything significant from the grocery stores.

      Throw in all the people they’ve brought back downtown to live plus the businesses… parking, rents, real estate values went through the roof. Rents in my former area prior to 2000 used to be about $500 for a good sized two-bedroom apartment. Now micro studio apartment can easily be over a $1,100 plus $100-200 per month for a parking space plus utilities costs like heat & water which used to be included in the older buildings. Note that older buildings generally did not have parking so all the developers who get the parking space exemption are doing is pre-selecting wealthier or wanna bes as their tenants.

      I get that cars contribute to climate change. (although one would think that electric cars get a free climate change pass given the media PR) But parking and even cars can’t be looked at in isolation. In the Twin Cities, given the distances from one side of the metro area to the other, plus gentrification and all the frothy hot money which continues to increase in the real estate market, parking is a matter of wealth, the ability to travel freely, who gets to use what public facilities and who “should be” seen and heard. Public transit is always subject to route and scheduling cuts as well as fare increases. Not everyone can afford to have stuff delivered. And what’s the environmental cost of all these deliveries and the shipping materials?

      I live in nowheresville now. Whole different set of problems. Don’t have a car, virtually impossible for most to get out without help from relatives or friends. Good limited local circulars but also time & money pricey for those living on limited budgets. Oh, did I mention that sometimes they “forget you.” It’s better in some areas than others. A few transfers between systems but again limited. With Covid, many transport options were just eliminated. And the old bus routes which could get one out to other parts of the state were eliminated about 20 years ago.

      I find it interesting that there are many conversations about limiting cars for the masses in the US but no real conversations about limiting international transportation or private planes or dramatically increasing monies for public transportation. We have Uber now. Or monies to put affordable local grocery and hardware stores able to compete with the big box stores back into every neighborhood. Those are policy choices.

      Is parking / cars really about climate change objectives or are the goals more about limiting where certain people can go and what they can do? Since working class and below aren’t typically included in these conversations, I think it’s the later and that climate change is just your PR CYA excuse for purposeful wealth-based policy decisions.

      Do human impact the environment? Absolutely. Is the earth in trouble? Nope. It would be just fine without humans. Humans on the other hand are in for a world of hurt.

      Reply
      1. Fiery Hunt

        Totally agree and am grateful for this comment. I truly think these “policies” are aimed at the PMC and the older wealthy and it’s just “piss on ’em” for the working class . Added my own version of the same concerns down below.

        Reply
      2. Stephanie

        Want to go from Minneapolis to St. Paul. 10-15 minutes in a car (non-rush hour or by hitting the traffic seam). It can easily take an hour and a half to two hours one way on public transportation. Longer depending on where one starts and needs to go. Throw in transfers and non-rush hour schedules… That’s a huge huge tax on time.

        We haven’t started talking about Twin Cities winter weather or traveling on public transit with anything significant from the grocery stores.

        I spent a year commuting by bus from the east side of St. Paul to the west side of Minneapolis for the job that kept us off the streets and yes, it was 1-1/2 hours each way, 2 hours in the evening if I missed the cutoff for the express. 20 minutes of that was for a transfer in downtown Mpls. This was not at all terrible 6 months of that year, but it got cold early that November and kept snowing until May. Turned out standing around in single-digits for that length of time was a lot harder on the body than doing chores or sports at that same temp, and by spring we’d bought a beater just to keep me healthy.

        Everyone I know in MSP who is long-term carless or part of a single-car family either has the money to live downtown and commute via skyway; or they work from home most days (even pre-COVID), and only go into the office for meetings; or they have a spouse who drives them to the transfer point – which sort of defeats the purpose of reducing car use, imo. OR they have a second car but choose not to use it, usually when it will maximally inconvience whomever they are meeting with. And yes, those are exactly the kind of people for whom the cities plan development – symbol manipulators with stable support systems. Everyone else is a headache, but of course it’s better politics to approve construction of unaffordable, multi-family housing with inadequate parking in the name of the environment than it is to tell poors to go pound sand.

        Reply
        1. Stephanie

          Adding: if I had had to negotiate groceries and one or more toddlers on the bus, it wouldn’t have taken a whole year to buy that beater. Cash on hand or not, I would have found a way.

          Reply
      3. Cakeeater

        I attended the University of Minnesota – Minneapolis in the early 1970s. Even then, there was a war on private drivers. I carpooled with my brothers and developed excellent parallel parking skills snagging a spot between classes when another student left. Parking lots were full and contracts were reserved for faculty. I took the bus to work when I worked in downtown St. Paul because I bought in an old neighborhood with regular service. However, when I switched jobs to one in downtown Minneapolis, I had to park my car and walk to the 94B and can’t tell you how many times the bus passed FULL and had to wait for another and sometimes another in sub zero weather. I utilized ride share for another phase of my life. Once I had a child, there was no time to carpool or take public transportation. Fifty years later, I find myself in Arizona where public transportation is spotty and with the extreme heat, I’d never be able to use for errands. We don’t have enough population density to commute by public transportation like many older cities and there’s the heat. It’s supposed to be 119 F next Friday. It’s about the same as -20 F in Minnesota. Scottsdale City Council tried to reduce the number of parking spots available for new high density housing projects. Apparently, everyone would be arriving by Uber or self driving vehicles. Local store owners noticed they lost important street traffic because no place to park. Now, new projects have to offer more parking spots to get approved.

        Reply
    2. R Antonucci

      The dollar vote has bad outcomes with our extremes of wealth. It’s hard to think of a more regressive thing to tax than parking.

      Reply
  2. Arizona Slim

    I’m willing to bet that the Kennesaw neighborhood people have created several paths over to that shopping center.

    Reply
    1. cyclist

      Maybe some teenagers have. But that looks like the kind of suburb where people drive their SUV to the end of the driveway to check the mailbox.

      Reply
    2. expr

      more likely: there is an 8 foot fence topped with razor wire to keep the riff raff from the shopping center out

      Reply
      1. Starry Gordon

        Another problem with walking into and out of shopping centers is that people are now in the habit of buying mountains of stuff which they then have to haul home in large, truck-like vehicles.

        There can be benefits for some. In a vacant area near a newly gentrified zone near the now-hip Brooklyn Navy Yard that has become a junkyard, a longtime resident told me she can pick up substantial amounts of discarded furniture, appliances, toys, tools, books, and other useful objects, often in good condition, which she can sell, trade, or give away in the name of good will and mutual aid, material the gentry have been forced to get rid of because their condos and SUVs are stuffed tight. Might be called crumble-down instead of trickle-down.

        Reply
  3. Michael

    Rideshare was supposed to alleviate parking needs in urban areas but …
    Electric vehicles are the new solution, but the number of cars will be slow to decline
    (if they ever do) and autonomous vehicles? (in whose lifetime?). Just keep driving?
    The inertia of car and oil companies has always been huge, aided by Congress with CAFRA “standards”. Oh and ADA spaces that go unused most of the time. (Ducks)

    We need to spread out and/or reduce population. Since we must grow to compete with China, its spread out in a manner that the Greens (myself included) can live with.

    Calif is choking on people and their sh!t. If the solution is to force more people into small areas near transit without parking (while simultaneously destroying single family zoning ala SB 9) well Game On!

    We need an old fashioned land rush without mules (maybe F150s). Revitalize old towns and county areas. Smaller and self sustaining. More easily managed.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      The new de-urbanization? I think you are on to something and Americans are far more likely to go that route than try to turn themselves into Europe in the space of a few years. Here in my Southern town the New Urbanism has become a thing but I doubt that many old people choose to live where travel by bicycle or (lately) electro scooter is a thing. They’ve also yet to bring a successful grocery store downtown.

      If we in fact are going to start working at home and getting our necessities via delivery then there’s not much need to do so while crowded together in cities where public transportation, even if it existed, is far less convenient. Trying to convince Americans in general–as opposed to merely the young and hip–to re-urbanize is going to be a very tough sell.

      Reply
    2. Michael McK

      Why “must” we “grow to compete with China”?
      Why grow or compete at all? How about stasis or autophagy and cooperation?
      PS I don’t mean our current sort of autophagy where Capitalism and the 1% (whith the help of consumers everywhere are eating the planet.

      Reply
      1. Michael

        Must grow = continuation of current neoliberal policies. Until we vote the bums out or start a parade in the opposite direction they can get in front of, sadly I think we will continue to destroy the biosphere, even while the planet survives.

        I think fear of China is also a driver. Can our .1% and their’s keep the train on the track? Cooppoposturing?

        “”How about stasis or autophagy and cooperation?””

        Eat The Rich comes to mind! PJ O’Rourke 1998

        Reply
  4. Societal Illusions

    “The mandates remain nearly universal across America…” I imagine there is more than a book that’s likely already been written about how this came to be. Coincidence? So doubtful, but to consider otherwise is to likely be labeled a conspiracy theorist yet again. Cui bono?

    Reply
  5. Fiery Hunt

    It’s amazing to me how completely the working class is erased from conversations regarding cars and parking. Tradesmen who need their own tools aren’t riding the flipping bus. And if we have to park a mile from the job, well who cares? We’re just barely an afterthought.

    But I guess all that urban housing isn’t intended for blue collar folk. Hope they never need a plumber…

    Reply
    1. Alex

      Would most of working class people need a car if there were good public transport?

      Regarding plumbers, I think that you really need delivery or other services like those at most dozen times a year, and even then only for a few hours, so it’s not a good justification for having so much parking space.

      Reply
      1. Fiery Hunt

        Yes, most working class people need a car…and for tradespeople, there isn’t a good public transportation system that’s better than a car (or truck). And your answer basically is “tough…don’t need them service folk that often.” But what if they’re your neighbor? They live there too!.
        Working class people work godawful hours, early and late, …ask any woman how comfortable they are waiting for a bus at midnight. Try getting to that second job when you’ve only got an hour between shifts. Grocery shopping has already been mentioned (not every one can afford to never leave their house and just have everything delivered). Got an appointment? Dr or DMV? Working people can’t afford to take the whole day off just so they can take a bus.

        Like I said, it seems the only people who are enamored with bike lanes and reduced parking are the privileged, not the working class.

        Reply
        1. Starry Gordon

          That was true for awhile, but considerable casual observations leads me to believe that the predominant ridership of bicycles and such is shifting back to the poor and working-class, especially with the advent of electric bikes and scooters. This is in New York City; the terrifying road culture of car country is still scaring smaller vehicles and pedestrians off the big people’s roads, but that may change.

          Reply
          1. Fiery Hunt

            Only jokers riding electric bikes and scooters are younger millennials and Gen Z.

            I guarantee it’s not maids or laborers or double-shifting dish washers…and if it is, they’d trade it for a car the second they could.

            Reply
        2. Alex

          No one is disputing that having a car makes anyone’s life more comfortable. I think that the question is should cities have minimum parking requirements and my point was that there are relatively few trades for which a car is a necessity and relatively few activities that require a car.

          My family wasn’t particularly privileged and we didn’t have a car when I was growing up, so I’m speaking from my experience.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            Huh? Electricians and painters require ladders. Plumbers need rooters, which if they are any good are too heavy to cart around on public transportation. Yardmen need all sorts of tools: weed whackers, thatching rakes, mowers, as well as being able to cart in sod, seeds, fertilizer, and bushes.

            Reply
              1. Yves Smith

                Please trace the argument. The original claim was that “the trades” did not need cars, as if they could show up with their tools in a knapsack.

                And in my area of the world, they use pickup trucks more than vans.

                Reply
            1. Alex

              Probably I was not precise with the language. The initial post to which I replied talked both of the working class in general and the tradesmen in particular. My point was that a lot of working class people, just like most of middle class people, do not need a car in their day-to-day lives if there is good public transport.

              Here (https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/emp-by-detailed-occupation.htm) I see that the two most numerous occupations are Retail sales workers and Food and beverage serving workers which supports my point.

              Reply
              1. Philo Beddoh

                Parking in NYC is such: I’ve a tiny wagon 200mi away (1/2 mile from where other “tradesmen” are disassembling TMI, near AMTRAK). I’d drive it a thousand miles, to Yves’ Birmingham. Beat the living crap out of it to various mills at 3:40AM, then drive up to Pittsburgh’s icy 37% grade, cobblestone switchbacks (~28K/10yrs). There’s simply NO way, 1099’d “essential workers” are going to be able to manage “work trucks” as their homes are flipped, urban hoods gentrified, for ofay e-scooter interlopers; or low mark-up, cheaper used trucks fall apart? I’d been checking out range-extended EV and small deisel PHEVs, but folks couldn’t afford the penality, let alone interest on their Uber & Lyft SUVs, as Yves predicted! You could rent a nice apartment in many cities for what a parking space costs, here.

                Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    Noone from Nowheresville in a comment above has covered a lot of the points that I was going to raise so will add a few more. Have cars taken over the streets and public spaces over the past century? Absolutely. But if you are going to remove them from a main city, then you had better provide a decent public transport option. Walkable neighborhoods? Sounds fine. What about when it rained though? Or you are loaded down with say food shopping? Thing is, taking back all those excess parking spots sounds fine, particularly if you are a developer that can buy them up and build profit centers. And right now I cannot tell if this article was written by a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning or a developer. But take a look at what will replace the present set up.

    In a way, it could result in a ‘you will own nothing and be happy about it’ lifestyle. So you live in one of these cities and they get rid of car parks. With nowhere to park your car, you get rid of it. So how do you get about? You call an Uber (driven by one of those ‘essential workers’). Can’t be hassled about lugging home groceries? Then you call Deliveroo (delivered by an ‘essential worker’). Feel hungry but don’t want to go out? You use an app to have a meal delivered – again by one of those ‘essential workers’. Starting to see a pattern?

    The article says ‘Growing numbers of people working from home and shopping online are reshaping traditional urban commutes and travel.’ Yeah, I am going to say that this rebuilt city would really be for the PMCs and there would be little place for poorer people in such a places except for those ‘essential workers’ that come in and out to deliver a whole range of services. In effect, it would be a mass gentrification of such a city and I am betting that all those re-dedicated car parking spaces will not be turned into low-rent flats. There would be some high-tech features added to it to show how progressive that city has become but am not optimistic about such a trend.

    Reply
  7. Calep

    The California government is basically controlled by developers. They have passed various bills to overturn zoning and allow up to eight units on lots once zoned for single family homes, no matter what the size, anywhere in the state.
    One of their other games is “transit oriented housing,” which means apartment towers can be built near transit stations. Unfortunately, every unit has a parking place, so there’s no requirement that the housing be reserved for workers, or workers who do not drive to work, even out of the area. This gives lie to the ‘transit oriented’ facade. Their propaganda:
    https://timesofsandiego.com/opinion/2021/06/06/california-desperately-needs-senate-bill-10-to-spur-urban-infill-housing-construction/
    “Behested payments” A.K.A. bribes to Newsom:
    “Many of the donors have other business before the governor, received no-bid government contracts over the last year or were seeking favorable appointments on important state boards, which they say creates the appearance of a pay-to-play system.”
    “It calls into question whether companies are getting special access and special decisions because they are giving tens of millions of dollars.”

    “Under California law, a donation is considered a behested payment when an elected official or someone acting on their behalf asks an organization to donate money or services to a nonprofit or government agency for a legislative, governmental or charitable purpose” like promoting ‘low income housing’, mandatory ‘shared responsibility to build housing for non-existent “population growth” and transit oriented housing.
    https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-04-27/corporations-donate-226-million-toward-newsom-2020

    Reply
    1. synoia

      I believe the lack of parking spaces is a blessing.

      It forces consideration of eliminating the commute, and living near work.

      The London, UK Councils are becoming very hostile to cars and parking. Their view is take the Bus (slow), Tube (hot and uncomfortable), ride a Bicycle or move live close to work.

      Reply
  8. Henry

    Maybe there is something I don’t understand in with the exponential math, but if we are ~ halfway through our oil reserves and plan to continue to grow at 2% based on using fossil fuels to provide most of that energy doesn’t that just give us 35 yrs optimally, assuming we can actually pull all the oil out of the ground and neglecting the increase in percentage of fossil fuels needed to do so as the task gets more difficult? Despite efficiency at point of use going up, efficiency from ground to point of use is going down faster. At least here in the US we missed our opportunity to develop an effective public transportation system when the auto industry thwarted the light rail development and the resulting pattern of development that would have made these systems effective. I therefore might suggest to not just reduce the parking lot size, but also the vehicle size say to ~500 lbs for a private vehicle and if you need a pickup truck or larger vehicle for the day you borrow one from the community with something like zipcar. This would improve fuel efficiency, embedded energy of construction and recycling, road maintenance as well gridlock in cities and of course eliminate the need for much of that parking space.

    Reply
  9. Mike Elwin

    Yes to all the complaints and pessimism regarding car-free downtowns, etc. I’d like to add my observation that it’s probably not a coincidence that the non-car culture was created by younger generations who can’t find jobs that pay well enough to own cars and live in car-positive neighborhoods. In other words, the youngsters have made lemonade from their low-pay lemons.

    Reply
  10. synoia

    I dropped my care and took to a Bike , in Socal.
    I also dropped my weight form 235 lb, to 205 lb, and my resting heart-rate to under 50 bats per minute over a few years.

    At 72, nearly 73 I have no regular prescriptions, which my Doctors find surprising.

    Reply
  11. meadows

    City planners in my city are letting big apt box developers proliferate if “public transport” is nearby, w/out mandating parking for each unit in these huge apt complexes. This is a pipe dream, considering the inadequate bus schedules. No way will this program succeed… each apt will have one or more cars and they will choke the street parking to the next level.

    I’m a geezer and ride my electric bike everywhere, with my bike trailer I can haul 40 lbs of groceries with some effort, up our steep hill. I ride about 700 miles a year. Groceries, bank, pharmacy, hardware store, parks and Dr. appts.

    I dodge huge SUV’s, huge trucks, usually one person driven. Until gas is 10 bucks a gallon it’ll get worse. Until public transportation is cheap and functional, it will get worse.

    Reply
  12. vegeholic

    Everyone discusses the question of using a car versus the alternative like you have a choice, and always will. You won’t. Prosperity = surplus energy, and the energy surpluses are in irrevocable decline. Why not begin to make peace with the future? Biking, public transport, and walking stand a better chance of being resilient when global supply chains struggle to keep the factories humming. Endless growth is the philosophy of yeast in the grape juice. Are we smarter than yeast? And by the way, I saw a lot of tradesmen making house calls on Mackinac Island using bicycle trailers and horse drawn carts. I think it may have been easier because there was not a lot of useless space being consumed by PARKING LOTS.

    Reply
  13. Noone from Nowheresville

    The Rev Kev
    June 11, 2021 at 10:42 am
    All of the former surface lots along Washington Avenue and the river were turned into high end condos & town houses. Early on they were marketed as loft living and a place to stay overnight when one came into town for a play or show. This entire corridor plus other areas in the downtown core has about 50,000 people living in it now. That’s big. Back in the day not many people lived in downtown zone. I haven’t checked the prices lately, but I suspect not an affordable rental in the mix.

    Slightly outside the downtown zone along 28th / Midway Green bike trail was also surface lots. So they have been getting rid of parking. They started out condos & townhouses with underground parking. The latest buildings have been a combination of rentals with retail on the bottom. Not an affordable low-rent flat in the mix. Realistically converted into bike path railway would’ve been a great corridor for light rail, even if the train had to be underground. Now it will never happen. They are going through the ritzy single home neighborhood instead of the packed with even more people with cars than before neighborhood. Low rise businesses which had been along multiple corridors are being purchase and redeveloped so more people to come. Low-rent in these areas is so 90s.

    On my former block, anecdotal only, the cars were pretty darn nice that parked on the street. Back in the day, more beaters and always a spot to be found even at night in a highly congested parking area. Now, not so much. So kids not buying cars is not exactly true. More likely parents buying condos and cars because working class kids can’t afford to live in these neighborhoods anymore unless it’s a legacy property.

    But, hey, it certainly looks nicer even if the petri dish of people are very different.

    Reply
    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      And where that 28th Midtown Greenway bike path is… Two parallel blocks over they took a lane of traffic for a bike lane. Another two blocks over they took another lane of traffic for another bike lane.

      Reply
  14. McWatt

    Written by a Professor. I should have known. This article is a gift to developers who want to provide no parking infrastructure for their tenants. They want to dump it on streets and pay for nothing. They will propose to develop a 50 unit building, tell you that 8 units are for Low Income and because of that they can’t provide parking. Oh and also it’s within three blocks of a train line and today young adults use skate boards and scooters to get to the train. And who is going to check on that building to make sure those 8 units are low income for perpetuity?

    These are all developer buzz words designed to get communities to abrogate their Zoning Laws that, guess what, protect everybody equally. But they are not interested in that. They want to build and then sell. Curiously, they don’t give a damn about your rights. They want you to transfer your rights to them for free by telling you “it’s for the planet”, “it’s for the poor”, when in reality it’s just for them. People fall for stuff like this all the time. It’s just another terrible American disgrace.

    Reply
  15. Fiery Hunt

    Like it’s a choice between prosperty and MAKING ENDS MEET. Like there’s anything like “making peace with the future ” for those of us tryibg to makeep it thru the next bill cycle.

    Such goddamn arrogance.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *