There’s a great post by Gary Kavanagh over at GaryRidesBikes on the nature of parking in Santa Monica, and how it stands in the way of cycling and sustainable living. Within his post Gary includes this great graphic, which shows all the land in Downtown Santa Monica which is used for parking:
The only place I’ve seen more red is in the LA Bike Map!
It’s always blown my mind how much land in Metropolitan Los Angeles is devoted to parking. As a photographer, it’s hard to take a photo in LA without a parked car cluttering up the background. Reducing the amount of parking in LA could really increase our share of the stock photography industry!
What’s shocking here is that Gary’s map doesn’t include street parking, which is everywhere in Downtown Santa Monica. On the map that would appear as tiny slivers of red almost everywhere, but those slivers add up.
Parking is the elephant in the room for (Metropolitan) LA transportation policy. How many road diets, how many miles of bike lane, how much wider could our sidewalks be if we could lose half the street parking in Los Angeles. Face it, if LA ditched 50% of our parking, we’d have a hell of a lot of public space to play with. But parking is untouchable – the person who suggests its removal is typically seen as crazy and out of touch by the LA motorist who drives in circles for 10 minutes every time they arrive at a destination.
Gary writes that:
We must never accept that lack of support for cycling is about lack of funding, it is a lack of political will to truly support cycling as a mode of transportation.
Sometimes Gary just nails it. It’s true, there’s nothing tough about funding cycling programs, physical or otherwise. Unless you’re talking about a $30 million, 2 mile Bike Path to Nowhere; if we support obscenely expensive projects like the Bike Path to Nowhere, supporting cycling starts looking expensive, and opposition to cycling will become much stronger.
There will be more from Gary:
In Part 2, I’ll go into more detail about the parking economics theories of Donald Shoup, who I got to hear in person at the LA Street Summit, and highlight the most important points from his lecture. Understanding parking may not be the sexiest of topics, but I think is a vital component of changing the transportation landscape. Copenhagen didn’t transform from a mostly automotive city to be a land of 30%+ trips by bike, even in snowy months, just by making bike lanes and paths . . .