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How many parking spaces do 60 people need?

March 8, 2011

I have been involved in parking economics, community activism and local politics for the last 6 weeks now. It does not make a résumé, does it? But it is exciting to talk with local politicos trying to convince them that you have something useful to say, but most importantly convenient for them to hear.

Six weeks ago local authorities notified the residents living in the buildings on my street in Rome that the construction of an underground parking garage had been authorized. After just a week, construction workers showed up and started cutting trees. “A car in every garage” has become a garage for every car, because we love cars. I am not a tree hugger, and I have to form an informed and rational conviction as to whether this garage will be suitable for my neighborhood and my community. So better not being carried away by the emotional appeal coming from the fear of change, which is constant, Benjamin Disraeli would add.

Local authorities claim that there are too many cars parked on the street, which generate traffic congestion and hinder urban mobility. So their goal is to take cars off the street by building underground parking garages. However, among the local citizens’ top fears is the expectation that bigger roads will attract more cars, more air and acoustic pollution. There is an alternative option: more public transit would translate into fewer cars on the streets and less space for parking. In fact, to carry 60 people from home to the workplace requires 50 cars, which, in turn, require parking lots where to leave them to rest for at least 7 or 8 hours per day. The same number of people can be carried by just one bus, which would not sit idle in a parking lot for hours since it can keep on carrying more passengers for the rest of the day. A bus company in Thun, a small town in Switzerland,  visualized the idea of how much parking space 50 citizens would need to park their cars.

to go to work 60 people need about 50 car parking spaces


or just one bus


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