Often times these Global Fridays post can sound a bit cynical. We know how it may come across: “Look at all the cool things Europe and Asia are doing! Come on America get your act together!” The point is to push to make things better here not to be a negative Nancy.
Today’s piece is a happy occurrence however in which we can highlight a great urban planning practice abroad and point to examples of it taking hold right in the US of A. National Geographic had a recent piece on cities around the world that have cut parking in the central/downtown districts and have subsequently blossomed into vibrant livable centers of activity. Despite initial fears from businesses in the immediate areas the economic impact has been overwhelmingly positive.
The piece draws on examples from cities you’d expect – Copenhagen and Paris for example (cities with progressive transportation policies) – to show how they have brought other forms of getting around – transit walking and biking – to at least as high of a priority (if not higher) than automobiles. Limiting parking or removing it altogether is a key tool in carrying out this reprioritization.
Despite the US being much more of “car culture” as the NatGeo piece notes US cities are taking note of the advantages of reducing or getting rid of parking and/or making streets bike/ped only . New York Chicago DC and San Francisco are experimenting with alternative parking and street use policies. Also as the City Paper’s Housing Complex reports today the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is getting rid of free parking for employees which will encourage the roughly 300000 people who work there to start using alternative means of commuting.