I attended Peter Guest’s presentation at Oxford University yesterday. Peter is a parking consultant, former president of the British Parking Association, and PT’s all knowledgeable correspondent in Europe and the Middle East.
He spoke to a group of transportation planners from the university. He was invited because the group felt it knew a lot about transportation, but very little about parking. I would suggest that many of the transportation decisions made would bear out the truth of that statement.
While I agreed with most of the overview on parking that Peter gave, I question one reference. That is that each car needs three parking spaces – Home, Work, and Play (or shopping, etc). That statement troubles me a bit.
First of all, many people own cars but use public transportation to go to work, or car pool. That being the case, those people only need two spaces, home and play.
Second, when we go to play, we often go with another couple, therefore removing one car from the play scenario.
Third there are always some cars on the move – except for maybe 2-4 AM. This means that except for home, many cars are ‘in between’ at some point and if you are ever on the Santa Monica Freeway, you know that it’s not just a “few”, but a ton. That also applies to London’s famous “ring road”, the M 25.
Fourth – although this may not “count” many cars are parked in places that aren’t formal parking spaces (open fields, vacant lots, front lawns, and parked illegally on streets.)
Fifth, most parking lots are empty most of the time. And even at peek hours, are seldom full.
I don’t want to do the ‘numbers’ since I have no studies (Peter’s main point in his presentation, that frankly there are few learned studies that focus on parking) to back them up. However I think that logic would, considering the five points above, lower the number of spaces per car to at least two, and in fact, probably under two a bit.
So, if planners plan for three spaces per car, they would over plan by at least a third.
What I’m saying is that if we simply use our God given minds and add a bit of logic, some ‘facts’ we take for granted fall away as urban legends and can be seen, on their face, as simply not “spot on” as they say here.