Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why do we have free parking?

All over the city we have lots and lots of free parking for cars. Lots of it is in parking lots, but not all of it. Why are the local governments providing free parking on the streets for cars?

We have the streets in this city to allow people to be able to move around, not to park their cars. Local governments should seek to assign real costs to on street parking. Here is what I suggest we should do:

  • Extend parking meters along all streets with any commercial activity on them. This means other local governments need to bring in parking meters on their streets.
  • Enforce pay parking 24/7 365 days a year.
  • Raise the rates to $2.50 per hour for the whole region but further raise the rate in the highest use areas to $5 per hour. This may not be high enough.
  • Make people wishing to park their cars on residential streets in front of their homes purchase permit to be able to do so. $600 per car per year would be entirely reasonable.
  • Inform businesses of the intent to remove all parking along major arterial routes within five years. Douglas Street has no business having any parking on it.

This will raise more money for local governments that could then be used to improve the transportation infrastructure. I would split the net proceeds three ways - 1/3 for road improvements, 1/3 for transit and 1/3 for buying CO2 credits.

This would also level the playing field between businesses that have to use their land to park cars and those relying on the city to provide it.

The changes would also allow better traffic flows in the city. It would really help with the expansion of bike lanes and might even allow for some pavement to be taken up.

Finally, it will make some trips by car no longer make sense and get a few more people to walk, bike or bus.

Free parking on private land is something that could also be addressed by local government through the use of zoning and property taxes. Ideally some sort of reward for businesses that introduce pay parking.
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