Idaho Bike Life

A Woman on a Bicycle in Coeur d'Alene Idaho

Parking: Do We Really Need More?

July 25, 2017 Bicycle Friendly Community 0
Parking Structure

We Don’t Need More Parking

What is that you say? No more parking? But what about the fact I can’t find a parking space downtown when I drive down there to enjoy the lake, go shopping, or grab a bite to eat? I hear you and understand your pain, what I want you to consider though is this…

Free parking does not encourage people to choose other more environmentally friendly transportation options. Why walk, bike, or take the bus when you can drive and easily find a spot near the front door of where I am going. I know, that is not the case in downtown Coeur d’Alene or in most downtown areas, but take a look at the Silver Lake Mall, the soon to be closed Kmart, and even on a busy day Costco. There are always empty parking spots. It always reminds me of the lyrics from the Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi”   “They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot”. While you watch the video below I want you to consider the words in that song as well as these facts:

 

The Bad and The Should About Parking

Bad

  1. More than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are considered to be obese. More than 1 in 20 (6.3 percent) have extreme obesity. Almost 3 in 4 men (74 percent) are considered to be overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity is similar for both men and women (about 36 percent).
  2. The number of overweight children in the United States has grown at an alarming rate, with 1 out of 3 kids considered overweight or obeseMany kids are spending less time exercising and more time in front of the TV, computer, phone, tablet, or video-game console.
  3. Approximately 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life, or swimming. Americans make up an estimated 5% of the world’s population. However, the US uses 25% of the world’s resources – burning up nearly 25% of the coal, 26% of the oil, and 27% of the world’s natural gas.

Should

  1. When you rely on a car for transportation, you are more likely to go further for errands and not rely on completely carbon free forms of transportation such as walking and bicycling. You support your local businesses when you get there by bike or walking.
  2. According to the U.S. Census, about half of all Americans live within five miles of their workplace. If you decide to walk or bike those few minutes rather than sit in your car (and probably in traffic), you could reduce your total household emissions by at least 6 percent. That’s because these short, engine “warm-up” trips to the office are actually the worst for the environment.
  3. Walking and riding bicycles reduce the need for clearing land for parking lots. For every one car parking space, 20 bikes can fit easily. So more bikes = fewer cars = less clearing the beautiful land for asphalt parking lots.

 

The ease of parking in America isn’t a good thing—though it may feel like it when you slide into an open spot right in front of the grocery store. Experts have been calling for an end to zoning laws like these for years, arguing that excess parking encourages unnecessary driving (why take the bus or carpool if it’s easy to drive yourself and park for free?) while simultaneously making it harder to walk around a city, since parking takes up a ton of land that’s difficult to traverse on foot, interrupting the urban fabric. Excerpt BY SHAUNACY FERRO of Mental Floss