Cars take up a ton of space. They carry an average of two or three people (perhaps 20% of their overall size) and are driven only approximately 5% of the time. That means they are parked somewhere for 95% of the time. Add to that the roads they need to drive on and an astounding 50 – 60 percent of real estate is dedicated to cars in cities.
City ordinances often require a minimum number of parking spaces based on the square footage of a new building project. The idea behind mandatory parking minimums is to allow enough parking space at the busiest usage times. Consequently, many parking lots take up more space than the restaurants, stores, offices and places of worship which they serve.
Architect Seth Goodman has produced a series of infographics which illustrate the absurdity of the parking requirements and show just how much parking is mandated in American cities.
The good news is that changing these zoning codes is not impossible. Reducing parking requirements would not only reduce the costs for owners of buildings but would free up valuable land for much-needed affordable housing or more open space. It would encourage walkable and bike-able neighborhoods too. You can read more about parking here.
Roads take up even more space than parking lots. While this varies depending on the size of city blocks and the width of streets, according to this 2011 study roads consume between 25 and 40 percent of the land in American cities. And the problem is not just in American cities. Copenhagenize.com illustrated the same problem in The Arrogance of Space – Paris, Calgary and Tokyo.
Change may be coming to our roads whether we like it or not, according to a report, by RethinkX. They predict that by 2030, only a decade after approval of autonomous vehicles, 95 percent of all miles travelled by US passengers will be in autonomous, electric, on-demand vehicles owned by fleets. San Francisco is one city that is already making plans to take advantage of new transport options. They know that although car ownership may seem convenient to individuals now, mass private ownership is inefficient as a form of transport in cities with limited space.
If most people drive, it is simply a direct result of dedicating the most space and resources to cars. “In urban planning, there is this notion that once you build infrastructure then it will be used,” argues George Szell, an expert in the efficiencies of city mobility. It follows, then that we should reduce parking lots, make roads smaller, use mass transit and build more sidewalks, bike lanes and parks.
Read the original article here.
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