In Europe, the lack of parking spots drives commuters crazy. Unlike last century, when in most cities around the world, the parking policy used to encourage the construction of additional parking spaces, the new trend in the Old Continent has gone the other direction. That’s because irrespective of the number of parkings built, the traffic congestion kept increasing. Around 50% of jam was actually caused by motorists cruising around looking for cheaper parking lot.
Thus, the reforms have been carried on in line with alternative social goals instead such as the EU ambient air quality legislation or national CO2 targets. In fact, people have been deterred from driving by the reduced parking lots available, this way decreasing the car greenhouse gas emissions. Many have switched to public transportation and others even considered using bicycles as a means of commutting.
For those who stuck to their private motor vehicles, in the current situation of parking space shortage, small cars are perceived as more practical in the city. They can be easier to maneuver in narrow streets and park where a larger car simply will not fit.
In the United Stated, on the other hand, no one pays attention to the size of their cars. That’s because, the scenario is quite different there.
As according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology expert, Eran Ben-Joseph, in the US there are more than 800 million parking spots compared to 255 million vehicles registered. That’s 3 spots per each car. In many of the American cities, parking lots cover more than 1/3 of the urban area.That amounts to a total area of 3,515 square miles, which is equal to the size of an entire country such as Puerto Rico. Even though this paved acreage is not so big considered the sheer size of the whole country itself, it has a negative impact on the environment, nontheless. The asphalt prevents the water from precipitation from getting to the groundwater.
What’s more, Eran Ben-Joseph also argues the design of the parkings needs improvement too. It seems like the creators of these sites did not think that after parking the car, every driver becomes a pedestrian.
Overall, he notes that compared to the huge area parkings occupy, they receive little attention. He suggests that parking lots should be at the same time aesthetic, architecturally and environmentally responsible.