Free Parking Kills Cities

I’ve known this for a long time, but for most people living in the ‘burbs, this is highly counterintuitive. Here’s the latest article on why, if you want to have a city you actually WANT TO DO THINGS IN, free parking is the worst possible of all land uses.

Unfortunately, most of Austin’s irresponsible inner-city neighborhoods (including the two in which I own property) still push for exactly the opposite – suburban-style off-street parking which end up killing street life and (gradually) the center-city in which we all live.
(An aside – my current neighborhood apparently pushed for increased parking requirements in mixed-use development on Guadalupe. It doesn’t get any more brazen than that.)



5 thoughts on “Free Parking Kills Cities

  1. Very nice article!
    What a world it would be if we’d stop worshipping automobiles and just using them as the tools they are…

  2. Question – what about our convention center? I mean people went crazy when no parking was built for that. We have parking now and it is only a few blocks away but people still complain about having to walk any distance.
    Should convention centers be treated differently than regular businesses since they cater to out-of-towners?

  3. Excellent point, Sheena.
    I think our Convention Center is an outlier in that we attract a ton of people locally for shows, and don’t use it much for out-of-towners (certainly not as often as the city would hope!). When I’ve been to conventions in other cities, in other words, I never had to park a rental car; I was always staying in a hotel within a walk or cab ride.
    One might therefore view our CC’s parking needs as a symptom of the problem that our city’s downtown still isn’t attractive enough to get a lot of major conventions. (The CC itself certainly is; but there’s a reason people have conventions in City X rather than City Y, and it has absolutely nothing to do with how easy it is to park cars).

  4. Great article, Mike. I guess it’s only a matter of time before they require bigger parking spaces so people can berth their Hummers easier.

  5. A modest proposal…
    We can bring the commons problem to a head… If the commons were suddenly removed–that is, all the street parking were eaten by non-residents, then the residents of Shoal Creek (or any other street, one street at a time) would be forced to install driveways or some form of pay-per-park (meters, stickers, etc.).
    The entirety of Shoal Creek Rd. may not get filled up, but we could probably get major sections of it packed over the weekend. Drive in, park, bike off.
    Just a few posts on bikemojo, local bike shops, etc., and game over…
    I’ll donate my car to the cause every weekend it takes…
    Can this work? Or is it too simple… Did I miss something?

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