2017 R ena i s s anc e P l an U pdat e | T own of W ak e F or e s t
The Parking Problem: Does Form Really Follow Function?
How minimum parking standards make it difficult to design places for people, not cars
by craig lewis , stantec urban places group R aise your right hand and repeat after me — “I will work to reduce the negative impacts of automobiles on our cities and towns, beginning with the elimination of minimum parking standards.” For years I’ve used the phrase “form follows parking” to describe the state of our cities caused by poor site planning and architectural design. I’m really analyzing our profession’s general acquiescence to the dominance of the automobile over our urban form. The influence of vehicles became firmly rooted in our zoning and building codes decades ago. Today, it’s not uncommon to see codes that often exhaustively attempt to regulate every facet of a car’s existence: from the width of a homeowner’s driveway, to the number and size of parking spaces it has available while away from home. However, I believe form should follow people, not cars. Our cities should be formed by what is best for the pedestrian and cyclist, not for the parked car. So today, I make a pledge to advocate for the repeal of all minimum parking standards.
of human behavior — and minimum parking requirements is a zoning standard predicated on human behavior. It assumes what we drive, how long we park, and how far we are willing to walk. In that zealous desire to ensure that every car has the maximum amount of convenience, we have paved over tens of thousands of greenfields and old-growth forests. We’ve increased stormwater runoff, urban heat islands, and water pollution. Parking lots created by minimum requirements have served to spread communities apart, making them far less walkable and bikeable, ensuring that every building be completely self-sufficient in the unlikely event of a parking catastrophe. Thus, we’ve made land financially inefficient by precluding more income-producing opportunities with largely unused asphalt. How did we get here? When the suburban revolution began following World War II, millions fled the cities in favor of “greener” pastures. But the suburbs came with a hitch — you needed a car to survive. Thus, the automobile had to become a central component in community design. So, while the suburbs were paved with the greatest of intentions, mostly they were just paved.
Why am I making this pledge? It’s simple. Government has been a terrible predictor
Thus, minimum parking requirements were
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