top of page

Parking and Progress: Navigating the Changing Infrastructure Landscape

The Times They Are A-Changin’

“The Times They Are A-Changin’,” written by Bob Dylan in 1963 and published in 1965, remains a poignant reminder of how change is a constant force. While the 1960s were a period of significant societal shifts, the year 2024 presents its own set of challenges and transformations. Global issues and technological advancements are impacting our daily lives and larger societal structures. The rapid dissemination of information through social media often leads to quick, unresearched judgments, influencing public opinion and policy. Among the myriad of pressing issues today are climate change, affordable housing, walkable cities, and the needs of underserved populations. These factors significantly affect urban planning and infrastructure development, especially in the realm of parking.

Parking Matters

In the parking industry, we provide essential solutions for both downtown and suburban areas, supporting a diverse range of businesses and communities. Infrastructure decisions, particularly in parking, have long-lasting impacts. A well-planned parking facility is crucial for the functionality and growth of surrounding businesses. For instance, a commercial office building with inadequate parking can hinder employee access and customer visits, leading to economic decline. Conversely, over-provisioning ensures future readiness, albeit at a cost. The balance is delicate, and mistakes in infrastructure planning are costly and difficult to rectify.

American Cities Need Parking

A growing movement seeks to reduce parking availability, inspired by Donald Shoup’s book, The High Cost of Free Parking. This perspective argues that government-mandated parking requirements lead to an oversupply, encouraging car ownership and usage, which has environmental and spatial repercussions. While the book's analysis brings valuable insights, it overlooks the integral role parking plays in the broader transportation network. The vast array of transportation options, from mass transit to micro-mobility, relies heavily on accessible parking. Historical infrastructure development in the 50s, 60s, and 70s allowed for suburban growth, reflecting Americans' preference for space and privacy. Today’s challenges require us to appreciate these past decisions while innovating for future needs.

Parking Antagonists

Recent articles by the Parking Reform Network critique parking policies, blaming them for inhibiting affordable housing, walkability, and environmental goals. They argue that parking lots promote excessive car ownership and urban sprawl. This perspective, however, seems to disregard the practical needs of a population that predominantly drives. Misguided policies that limit parking can restrict freedom and economic activity. It is essential to approach urban planning with a balanced view, recognizing the necessity of parking within a comprehensive transportation strategy.

Moving Forward

The parking industry must engage in the current discourse, offering solutions that balance modern needs with future sustainability. While the times are changing, we need thoughtful, well-researched plans that address today’s challenges without compromising tomorrow’s needs. Future articles will delve deeper into the true value of parking, the costs of alternative transportation infrastructure, and the realistic paths to affordable, walkable cities. The goal is to develop an infrastructure that serves everyone efficiently, ensuring vibrant, accessible, and sustainable urban environments for decades to come.

3 views0 comments


bottom of page