Does Less Parking Space Mean More Incentive to Walk?

In late February, according to KSTP, Minneapolis had already received 57 inches of snow. Because of this, for the last month, Minneapolis has enforced a city wide ban on even side parking for all non-emergency snow routes, in addition to the narrow streets of  Bryant Avenue between Lake Street to 50th Street, and Grand Avenue from Lake Street to 48th Street. Looking down my street at the back to back car packed lane, a curious thought flew in my mind: Did this restriction in parking promote reduced use of the automobile? Or at the very least encourage car pooling?

When I was younger , I once watched a documentary in school about a progressive transportation planning movement in Central America. In the documentary, a city official was being interviewed, and after being asked about the rising traffic concern in his city, he said the solution to reducing traffic is not to increase automobile lanes, or parking space, but rather take it away. At the very basic level, taking away certain transportation modes will force residents to seek other options.

Mutli-Use Transportation along Implemented Light Rail

 A prime example of decreasing both automobile lanes and parking space would be along the Minneapolis-St Paul Central Corridor. As mentioned in a previous blog post through Global Site Plans, What About the Businesses? Impacts of the Twin Cities Light Rail, the central corridor will displace 87% of parking space for commercial space. Although this number may seem disgruntling to businesses, who currently rely on automobile centered customers, the city’s predicted 40,000 weekday boardings by 2030, sheds a light of positive impact this project, and other similar transportation mode-changing projects can have.  

How does eliminating the option of parking alter transportation modes?

How do we effectively decrease automobile infrastructure while allowing residents accessible and efficient transportation options?


Images by Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Data Linked to Sources. 

Abbey Seitz

About Abbey Seitz

Abbey Seitz, Minnesota native, is a professional urban and regional planner based in Honolulu. Her experience in planning and community organizing in Hawai’i has played a distinct role in her writing, leading her to question why and how places, cities, and regions came to be as they are. She recently released her first book, Perseverance Flooded the Streets.

4 thoughts on “Does Less Parking Space Mean More Incentive to Walk?

  1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

    Agreed. As Chuck Marohn says, Civil Engineering is the world’s second oldest profession. Yet Traffic Engineering as a discipline has only been around for 50-100 years. Traffic engineers have historically figured ways to add capacity. Yet when improperly priced, demand for that capacity grows.

    If Parkway Pizza delivered artichoke deluxe pizzas to my door for free (that would be the best thing ever) I’d probably have pizza every day. But since it costs me roughly $20, I only get it once a month or so. Lane space and parking are the same – people consume more because it’s free. Parking is especially the same, because it’s a private good (rivalrous and excludable).

    The question isn’t if there’s enough parking. The question is if it’s priced properly.

    Thanks to modern technology, sensors, smartphones, etc we can price parking with much lower transaction rates and with much higher levels of dynamic pricing response. Minneapolis needs to adopt a plan to price every single public parking spot in the city. Literally no free parking anywhere. In low-density residential neighborhoods, there would probably be some sort of base rate – $50-100/year. In places like the Wedge or Marcy-Holmes, it would be much more because demand is much more.

    Great post! Excited to see parking reform become a hot topic!

  2. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

    The one thing we should not be doing is removing on-street parking without replacing it with other traffic calming or space for people. On an average 40′ side street, removing parking increases the space for vehicles from roughly 24′ to 30′. This will significantly speed up cars cruising at 30-40 MPH on our residential side streets, which is extremely deadly. Parking on both sides of the street naturally keeps moving vehicles at around 20-25 MPH, which is the correct speed. And on-street parking helps enforce that as a design speed.

    But as streets require full reconstruction, we should consider reconstructing them with less total pavement. Pavement is expensive. $9.1 million for repaving just a portion of the Hennepin/Lyndale bottleneck…. and we don’t even have that money, we have to get it from a Federal grant. Know what that means? There’s too much pavement!

  3. Cedar

    I understand that you’re looking at the issue in general, but when considering this winter in Minneapolis, specifically, I think it’s important to acknowledge that while parking has been restricted — and presumably that did make driving less convenient for many people — the inconvenience factor was offset by the fact that walking conditions have been so terrible. If Minneapolis really wants people to walk, the city has to do something drastic to make it safer and more enjoyable to do so. In the winter, that means figuring out a way to enforce clear sidewalks, as well as making it easier to cross intersections on foot. In any case, I don’t think just eliminating parking is enough — it’s got to be coupled with incentives to make the alternatives more appealing.

  4. Truth

    Pedestrians are literally standing in the way of freedom. Freedom is all about the car. Either get with the program or get out of the way!

    Parking is a resource which will ensure the competitiveness and grandeur that is Minnesota for decades to come.

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