Georgia Tech

Parking kills Public Space

Oct 23, 2012 | Atlanta, GA

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Minimum parking requirements dictate the scale of a city and render an environment unwalkable argues a 2012 Georgia Tech applied research paper.  In “Parking: Its Effect on the Form and the Experience of the City,” Stephen Taul (MCRP ’12) claims parking regulations must be redesigned to prioritize the pedestrian and promote efficient use of space if a city is serious about encouraging social interaction.

Taul places three urban districts at the center of his detailed analysis of Atlanta's parking: Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead.  While all three districts follow many of the prescriptions of New Urbanist parking guidelines such as hiding the parking in the rear of a building or integrating parking into the ground level of a large structure, street level activity nevertheless suffers due to large lot sizes and individual ownership of parking facilities.  To estimate the amount of street activity generated by parking, parcel data was used to show the locations in Atlanta with parking as a principle land use.  Representative locations were then analyzed individually and cross-compared with parcel analysis of cities with strong public realms.

In order to create a more walkable urban district, Taul contends cities must regulate the amount, ownership, and design of parking through five basic principles.  These rules include: parking requirements based on factors of walkability, required shared parking, common ownership of parking, maximized on-street parking, and direct connections from off-street parking to the public sidewalk.  By offering alternatives to the “out of sight, out of mind” approach that pervades modern transportation planning discussions about parking, Taul’s 2012 applied research paper challenges a lingering obstacle to the successful design of truly walkable cities.

Stephen Taul is a 2012 graduate of Georgia Tech's School of City and Regional Planning, and advising for his applied research paper was conducted by Associate Professor Richard Dagenhart.

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