Environment & Economy By Peggy Chan 867 Views

Too Many Parking Lots, Too Few Cars in the U.S.

A lot of American land have been converted to mere parking lots, that costs the nation huge sums of money, as reported by a study by Eric Scharnhorst from the Research Institute for Housing America pertaining to the parking statistics in New York, Jackson, Seattle, Des Moines and Wyoming.

The results of the study is strongly backed by satellite images, city departments of transportation, the US census, property tax assessment offices, parking authorities, Google Maps and other geospatial maps. Lists have been prepared accordingly, which include on-street and off-street parking spaces and structures.

The study, asides reporting the number of parking spaces in the cities mentioned above and their all-inclusively calculated replacement costs, also determines engrossing statistics like parking spaces per household, per acre, and parking costs per household. Maps of parking densities across these cities are included.

Altogether, it presents confirmation of Donald Shoup’s idea for saving parking space, which will hopefully help prevent so much wastage of resources while parking.

There are over 1.85 million parking spaces in New York, 2 million in Philadelphia, 1.6 million each in Des Moines and Seattle, and 100,000 in Jackson, with a mere population of 10,000, as Scharnhorst researched.

In Jackson, specially, parking occupies a massive area per acre, it has over 50 parking spaces which is about 25 times its residential density of merely two houses. That means, that for every household, Jackson has 27 parking spaces.

On the other hand, per acre, Seattle has roughly 30 parking spaces per acre, that is, five times its residential density of 5.7 houses, meaning there are over 5 parking spaces for each household. And, Des Moines has nearly 30 parking spaces, approximately 20 times its residential density of 1.5 households. Philadelphia has 25 spaces per acre, that’s four times its residential density of 6.8 houses. The only city that has lesser parking spaces as compared to households per acre, i.e. 10 parking spaces per 16 houses. Meaning, each house has the parking capacity of 0.6.

Apart from space, parking also uses up a tremendous amount of resources in the five cities. If calculated in terms of money, it takes up over $20 billion in New York, $35 billion in Seattle, $711 million in Jackson, $17.5 billion in Philadelphia, and, $6 billion in Des Moines.

When these figures are calculated in accordance to each house, they are definitely more astounding. Almost $200,000 per household in Jackson are eaten up by parking, over $100,000 and $75,000 in Seattle and Des Moines respectively. In New York and Philadelphia however, it’s comparatively a little less, to be estimated, about $6,570 and $30,000 respectively.

According to Getpocket, too much from America’s resources are spent on parking. And this is a major drawback because of the fact that lately, the number of drivers, have been dwindling constantly. Like, in Seattle, for the first time in about four decades, the number of households that have cars has dropped. Moreover, the percentage of legally adult students with a driving license has also dropped to a mere 71.5% in 2015, from a whole of 85.3% in 1996. Currently, ride-sharing is pretty active.

The time has come to cut out space from parking lots and utilize this space to construct what’s more essential, like houses, cafes, parks, or bike lanes.


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