Chart of the Day: Parking Loss vs. Total Parking Supply

These days, Saint Paul is all abuzz over the potential loss of a few dozen parking spaces downtown for the construction of the proposed bike loop. Some people are upset over the disappearance of the spaces, but others insist that there is plenty of parking downtown. It’s a hot topic.

Well, other cities have been down this road before. For example, when Montreal built a new bike lane, people complained about the loss of parking spaces… at least until the advocates reframed the issue by talking about the spaces as a percentage of the total parking supply in the area. This is the chart they used:


This fine chart came across my desk via this post on People for Bikes. Saint Paul is just completing a parking study that will hopefully place the “loss” into a larger context. Dollars to donuts, it won’t be a very large percentage of the total downtown parking supply.

11 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Parking Loss vs. Total Parking Supply

  1. Jim

    Just to play devil’s advocate. But how many spaces we’re removed because of the Green Line along Cedar and 4th St? How many were removed for the expanded sidewalk on 6th St by Mears Park? How many more will be lost when the full loop is completed? It adds up.

    Downtown St. Paul isn’t very big. While there are plenty of surface parking lots, some of those will likely be redeveloped in years to come. The block reserved for the future Pedro Park could disappear. A lot next to the Union Depot has been listed for sale. The Central Station block which was surface parking, currently a grass field, but soon to be a temporary parking lot again (lol), will likely be RFP’d to developers in another year or so.

    I’m not going to lament the loss of all this parking. But others surely will.

    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke Post author

      how many people won’t need parking because the Green Line is there? considering the demand/supply situation, massively increasing transit capacity has to help, not hurt, the problem.

      but, of course you’re right. in the future it won’t be free to park downtown. it might even cost a few dollars. i wonder how Saint Paul will possibly survive?

      1. Wayne

        Especially when every new building comes complete with its own 5-8 story parking podium these days. All the new construction in Minneapolis is seemingly adding parking capacity to the city, not removing it. A surface lot becomes several levels of stacked lots with something else on top.

  2. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

    The fact remains that parking is the quintessential private good. And while it makes sense that cities generate revenue by leasing out that excess public right of way (but it should not be given out for “free” under any circumstance), parking is near the bottom of the list of things that should be accommodated within the public right of way, well behind transit and bike facilities (though ahead of zoomzoom lanes).

    The only redeeming value in parking is to provide a buffer to an improperly close sidewalk, though this only works with high concentration of parking rather than empty spaces, and can easily be remedied by vegetation and aesthetic hardscapes.

    1. Wayne

      This times a thousand, thank you Matt.

      I’m so sick of everyone crying about parking constantly like they’re entitled to it with no clue how much tax money it costs, both in maintenance and in lost potential revenue because the space is off the tax rolls.

      Free parking needs to be done away with completely. It should be metered or permit everywhere in the city. Residents should get a break on the permits because they already pay some local taxes, but they still shouldn’t be free. Every commercial area should be completely metered, and if it sits empty then widen the sidewalk or add a bike lane. The perverse subsidy of people’s parking habits needs to stop and they need to start paying for the cost of storing their vehicles.

  3. Jim

    It’s worth reminding the pro-parking folks that over the last 20 years St. Paul has built several large parking ramps downtown. Each one has approximately 1,000 spaces in them. Even the newer office buildings like Lawsons, Securians, Elmer Anderson contain integrated parking ramps, adding thousands more spaces as well. I hope the parking study illustrates that point. I’d wager there’s more parking today in downtown than there was 20 years ago, even with all the on street parking spaces lost already or to be lost with the loop.

  4. David

    i live in Lowertown, and work near Ecolab. i walk to work, bike around in the summer. it would seem me that was is in excess in DT StP is not on-street parking — who doesn’t like the convenience — but too i want bike lanes. REDUCE SOME TRAFFIC LANES! in the core the streets are wider/ more lanes that is really needed, even in peak times. even weekdays, thee streets are wide open.

  5. Dennis

    The bus stops are too close to each other indowntown.Consolidate some stops will generate some street parking The stop infront of Macy is across from the 6th St the street.The stop at 6th St is also across from the Central station.Mn St ha s 4 stops for 6 blocks.Many buslines are layover downtown instead of pairin/thru routing losin even more spaces.The handicap parking is being abused.With Greenline running and improved bus services St Paul need to reduce the parking .

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