Home > Ecological Design, Economics, Engineering Design > Got Parking? Hell Yeah.

Got Parking? Hell Yeah.

EDITOR’s NOTE: Original posted Dec. 8, 2010. Reposted as a sticky December 4, 2012. 

Got parking? Hell Yeah.

Photo via Physics Central

A recent study set out to count the number of parking spots in the United States and the environmental impact of all that infrastructure. At first thought, most people wouldn’t think that the material that provides for our automobile storage would outpace material dedicated to automobile travel, but apparently, it just might. Either way, there is a tremendous cost to public space and the environment.

An engineering report, covered by PhysicsCentral.com, begins with a stark visual:

Next time you’re searching for a parking space and someone grabs a spot from right in front of you, it might seem like the last space left on Earth, but ponder this: there are at least 500 million empty spaces in the United States at any given time.

The study discovered that all those spaces have an eye-opening impact on the environment.

The report obviously acknowledges the impact that encouraging and subsidizing single occupant vehicles causes to increase those numbers (if it’s easy to drive, or park, we tend to drive), but also dove into the “hidden infrastructure” costs that exist with constructing and maintaining the country’s hundreds of millions (perhaps up to 2 billion *) parking spaces. Those hidden costs, often externalized by municipalities, businesses and private homes, add as much as 10% per mile in CO2 emissions for the average car and the impact increases over the life-span of the car.

The lead author of the study, Mikhail Chester, draws a Shoupista conclusion from the study, “Ninety-nine percent of automobile trips end in free parking and this has a major effect on people’s choice of what means of transportation to take.

* The report uses five inventory scenarios to explore the impacts of the wide range of possible parking space allotment in the United States. The ranges used were between 105 million and 2 billion spaces.

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  1. December 8, 2010 at 9:14 am
  2. December 9, 2010 at 4:54 am
  3. December 10, 2010 at 8:46 am
  4. December 14, 2010 at 10:02 am

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