Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tom Vanderbilt Parks It On Slate

Build it and they will come. That's what Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic, says about bike parking, in today's Slate.com. He does have a point. A car driver pretty much assumes that wherever they go, parking will exist. Is it happenstance, American optimism, divine intervention, or just dum luck, that pretty much anywhere you go in America, there will be parking? Well, the answer is just a little below devine. It is government policy. Build anything in America and you have provide parking space for cars. A lot of it, too. So much so, that if you put all that parking in one place, Connecticut would be one big parking lot. No wonder people drive. Cars are pretty much guaranteed free parking, wherever they want to go.

It's not really free, though. It's land that could have other uses, such as trees or grass. Or somebody's house, which would be closer to your's if there wasn't all this free parking in between. Heck people have to drive farther, because of all the space taken up by these parking spaces. Take a look around. Subtract the parking, and there's a whole lot of free space. And we are not even talking about roads. Lot's of costs.
How about some government intervention into a mode of transportation that is actually good for society? It is beginning to happen. Cities are beginning to require commerical builders to include bike parking in their projects. Indoor parking is also becoming available. I'm lucky, that I can bring my bike inside at work, but most cyclists, don't have that option. Give people decent options and they are more likely to ride. As this bike wave rises, better parking will allow it room to grow.
If you haven't read Tom's book, Traffic, check out his blog, How We Drive, to see what you're missing.


She Rides a Bike said...

I agree. Development really caters to the car and increases the cost of development. One reason why I bike commute to work and my errands is because of bike infrastructure in my community that makes it easier for me to bike. Nonetheless, people always complain about a lack of parking. I don't see any particular problem unless you count not being about to park your car right in front of the storefront a huge problem. Regardless, I prefer the ease of locking my bike near the store. We could use more bike racks and secure locations where I live but I think it is coming.

Dottie said...

I love reading Tom Vanderbilt's blog; I really need to read his book now.

Adrienne Johnson said...

It takes time, but it seems to me that whenever you give people well designed and viable options to driving, they eventually come around and use it. Bike parking is one of those things.

The Jolly Crank said...

Excellent post. Infrastructure is so key. And it's true that many Americans expect the state to provide all the things they need to use a car (parking spaces, wide roads etc.) yet balk at providing similar yet less invasive infrastructure for other modes of transportation.