The High Cost of Free Parking

San Francisco has some of the highest housing costs in America, for people that is… San Fran recently completed a “Parking Census” which involved the pain staking task of counting every available parking space. The census revealed that there were over 280,000 on-street parking spots with only 10% of those being metered. The total area of free parking is around 940 acres, nearly as much as Golden Gate Park! The Next American City, has more about the census and the strategies San Fran will adopt to benefit from this currently wasted space.

A parking census would be a useful tool for any city wanting to use space more effectively, and possibly make some revenue. Calgary could benefit greatly from a parking census. There are areas in Calgary (Kensington, 17th Ave, etc.) where the space allotted for on-street parking greatly exceeds the size of the sidewalk. The narrow, often obstructed sidewalks in Kensignton make it difficult to navigate on foot or bike. While I have no data to back this up, I assume that most people in Kensington walked or biked there, and the minority drove. If we plan to subsidize one form of transportation over the other, I would think we should favor the former methods, walking and biking.

My suggestion: get rid of one of lane of parking, use chicanes to calm traffic and to alternate which side you can park on. With the newly found space: expand the sidewalks, move lights and other street furniture towards the edge, and BUILD BIKE LANES!!!

Any Comments?


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