Free Parking Isn’t Free

Posted on July 20, 2017

Have you ever considered how much free parking costs? To you the driver it’s free–or at least it looks that way. A new video from Vox and Mobility Lab details the costs hidden away in the seemingly free parking. Check it out!

Are you sufficiently frustrated? Get ready to change the world–er…parking.

Check out Strong Town’s Rachel Quednau’s 5 ideas to end parking minimums. Whether you’re a city staffer, nonprofit leader or just a community member who cares, there’s something you can do to advocate for an end to parking minimums in your town:

1. Implement one or more of these 4 steps to squash the “there’s no parking” argument. Follow these easy steps to start combating the perception of a shortage of parking supply in your downtown or neighborhood. They might not solve the problem overnight, but they act as a visual display of advocacy that people can relate to.

2. Check out these examples of ordinances that remove parking minimums. Then explore our national map of towns that have gotten rid of parking minimums to see the progress being made on this issue across the country. Click on each pin to read more about the ordinances in each town.

3. Write to your local paper and push for an end to parking minimums. 

One of the ways to get your voice heard is through your local paper. You’d be surprised by the impact of a letter. We have Strong Towns members who were able to shift the direction of planning decisions in their cities because they spoke up with a blog post or letter. We encourage you to look into the parking minimums laws in your city and write your local paper about ending them, especially if there is a pertinent piece of local legislation up for discussion. With Black Friday fast approaching, your local paper is probably going to be publishing a few stories about hasty shoppers running each other over to get to the latest Xbox. Why not give them something better and more productive to share?

4. Read these stories of towns that ended parking minimums for inspiration and ideas:

Decatur, GA removed parking minimums for commercial buildings, and increased bike access in the process.

Phoenixville, PA removes parking minimums in its downtown through a new comprehensive plan, facing a surprising lack of resistance from the community, and seeing fantastic results.

5. Ask your local leaders these questions. Andrew Price offers an excellent list of provocative questions that get at the reasoning behind parking minimums. Questions like: Why do we think we can act in a business’s best interest better than the business itself? Why should my car pay cheaper rent than me?

Not sure if your city has removed parking minimums? Check out the map below. If you’re city isn’t on the map then YOU can put it on there.

Strong Town’s work is performed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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