Street Parking?

Photo courtesy of Flickr

I've been mulling over the idea of cities making street parking illegal. It think it would make people rethink driving everywhere they go and owning more vehicles than they need (since they would need to park on their own property at home. It would also add space for cars and bikes to use the roadways, adding at least a lane if not two to each road, without any cost to the city.

The actual act of traveling down these roads will also be safer and faster. Cyclists won't have to worry about parked cars opening their doors in front of them (a major cause of bicycle accidents). Drivers could count on not getting stuck behind a driver trying to parallel park and is blocking the entire right lane, or worry about the daredevil driver who thinks they can get out of their parking spot, up to speed and into traffic in the 4 car length space between them and the driver in front of them.

Sure, this plan will likely mean that more real estate in urban areas will be devoted to parking structures and many metropolitan areas are not designed to park the number of cars that would be required initially while people get used to not driving. (Although based on some mid-day trips through downtown San Diego I would say there are enough empty spots in pay lots to make a dent in the number of cars coming off the streets.

Turns out that a city is considering doing this, but only on selected streets. The Sentinel in Woodbridge, NJ reports that their township council is considering it and the mayor hopes to have it in place by July 1st. Of course, their concern is more about people parking in front of residences (I'm guessing the locale isn't very urban), but could still give evidence to whether this is a good idea.

I know where I stand as a biker and someone who dislikes vehicle traffic but I can't decide which side I come down on as a taxpayer and citizen. On one hand, I don't think that my tax dollars should be subsidizing storage of personal property, which, let's be honest, isn't really all that great for the city anyway. (Imagine a car-less city...heaven.) People should be required to keep their vehicles on their own property and if someone (person or business) wants them to visit by auto, they should find a place for them to put that car. (Supermarkets and malls already do this.)

On the other hand, I recognize that the government is a representation of the people. If people want to have cars and store cars on the road, the government should honor that desire.

Clearly it would take great foresight from a city council or mayor to get this even onto a ballot much less passed. I do believe, however, that while there would be complaining on the outset (quite a bit of complaining actually) that people would be quick to adapt and find other, better ways to travel in urban areas.