“Free parking isn’t free”

As someone who tries to walk modest distances in town, I’ve been impressed again and again with how unfriendly our cites are for walkers. There are dangerous intersections, or worse, busy roads with no designated crossing. There are missing sidewalks and senseless barriers. Making things worse is the fact that everything is so far apart. One of the culprits here is our irrational obsession with free parking, which like any addiction creates its own need.

Seth Zeren has an excellent essay on Worldchanging about why “free parking” actually costs us all a lot.  He points out that what seemed once to be reasonable zoning requirements for parking actually costs us all a lot in terms of polution, traffic, health, aesthetics, and even direct cash.

Why do Americans drive everywhere? Because everything’s far apart. Why’s it far apart? Often because there’s so much parking in between! In the end, creating bright green cities will require undoing the damage created by mandating free parking.

Free Parking Isn’t Free, August 4, 2009

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