If cities want more people to use modes other than the automobile (and almost all cities claim this in their planning documents), they should stop building new parking. There is already (ipso facto) enough parking to serve the current number of travelers using automobiles, and generally more than enough, assuming there are empty spaces.
The amount of parking in the United States is unknown, but involves paving over more than a state of land to store cars.
Pricing can manage demand, as shown with SFPark, with higher prices discouraging marginal trips by automobile, and rising prices based on time parked encouraging turnover. The worst* that happens is that a car-arriving visitor has to walk a longer distance through a city to reach the ultimate destination, passing by local businesses along the way, and perhaps spending money. There are of course complaints that such a walk might be dangerous — in which case the city has other problems for which there are better and less expensive solutions than more parking at $40k per space.
If instead of building new parking, cities ensure that no more than replacement was constructed, then any new demand generated from new construction would not be automobile dependent. (To be clear, this is in the aggregate, some new users might rely on the car, but they would replace existing users who switched mode/destination/time-of-day and so on).
At the extreme, each square meter of city space can be used for either doing things or storing vehicles. While some vehicles (bicycles, mopeds, people’s own feet) take up little storage, others, like the traditional automobile, require almost as much space for storage as the typical office worker is allotted.
Parking is of course contentious, you can’t read a local newspaper without someone testifying against any change to the city (development, bike lanes, transit facilities) that reduces local parking, especially free parking. Free parking, to read the propaganda of the National Parkers Association, is enshrined as Article XII of the Constitution of the United States.** Everyone who drives wants to be able to park in front of their destination. This is natural.
New technologies, like Autonomous Vehicles, and especially Shared Autonomous Vehicles, along with smaller cars, will greatly reduce the future need for parking. Why invest in it now?
The only reason to be in a city is convenient access to other destinations, since cities are more expensive than the alternatives. Every piece of real estate devoted to driveways and parking is one less piece of real estate devoted to actual destinations people care about, and a greater distance between remaining destinations.***
*For disabled travelers, special parking spaces are already designated, almost never full.
** It isn’t, really. I don’t think there is an National Parkers Association, but there should be.
***Neglecting of course the individuals who tour parking lots for leisure, and those who work in the vehicle storage tourism industry.
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