Less Driving, More Walking
Even in places where most people drive to their destinations, the most successful downtowns will feature sidewalks full of pedestrians, walking between the barber and the bank, the doctor’s office and the post office, stopping for lunch and doing some shopping. Many trips but only one parking space. This is sometimes called a “park once” district, because people are encouraged to park in one place and then make stops on foot rather then driving from one destination to another within the district, as you would with a car-oriented strip mall area. Creating the type of environment where its easy for people to walk between destinations involves both good urban design and parking policies. If each destination is required to provide its own off-street parking, and each building may have parking on all sides, dead zones of surface parking lots are created between destinations that make walking distances longer and walking experiences less pleasant, so that people have every incentive to get back in the car to go a few stores down.
Reduce scattered surface parking lots:
- Centralize parking facilities by allowing or requiring developers to pay into a fund to be used for building public parking rather than providing their own on-site parking (see fees-in-lieu).
- Allow redevelopment of surface parking lots if the spaces are not needed or if developers / property owners pay into a fund to be used for building public parking in the future (see fees-in-lieu).
- Reduce or eliminate minimum parking requirements for some or all uses downtown.
- Count on-street parking towards minimum parking requirements (see flexible minimum requirements).
- Establish maximum allowances for how much parking may be built by use and/or by neighborhood (see parking maximums).
- Establish flexible parking requirements based on:
- alternative mode access (especially proximity of transit, but also pedestrian and bicycle facilities)
- expected demographics of residential developments (age, income, other auto-ownership factors)
- parking studies providing data to support requests to reduce or increase parking
- implementation of programs to reduce the need for parking spaces, such as parking cash out, un-bundled parking, shared parking, priority parking for carpools, or car sharing (see parking and transportation demand management)
- Make parking fit better with a pedestrian environment:
- Prohibit developers from siting parking between the building and the street (see locating parking strategically).
- Build parking structures combined with retail or other commercial uses on the ground floor (see wrapping parking structures in active uses).
- Limit curb cuts so that there are fewer places where cars are crossing the sidewalk.
- Provide safe, convenient, and comfortable walkways to access parking facilities.
- Set a high standard for pedestrian protection where vehicles from parking structures exit onto the street.
- Require screening and/or landscaping in any surface parking lots visible from pedestrian-oriented streets (see landscaping for shade and air quality).
Improve the pedestrian environment generally:
- Invest in street trees, benches, landscaping, etc.
- Establish design standards for buildings in the district.
- Keep streets and sidewalks free of litter.
- Provide adequate lighting and police / security that people feel safe walking on the street at any time while stores are open.