Blog Is your city's downtown mostly parking?

Is your city's downtown mostly parking?

Ever feel like cities in the United States are overflowing with parking lots?

It’s not just your imagination. 

In an analysis of U.S. metros with 1M+ people, 22% of downtown land was dedicated to surface parking lots.

Let’s take a look.

What’s happening

A new tool from the Parking Reform Network shows that surface parking dominates the downtown centers of many large U.S. cities.

Downtown Cleveland? 26% surface parking.

Kansas City and Detroit? 29% and 31% parking lots, respectively.

Leading the pack are Arlington and San Bernardino, whose city centers are 42% and 45% dedicated to hosting empty cars. 

Zoom in: Tampa 

In Tampa, roughly a third of the city’s downtown is parking. In Tampa, roughly a third of the city’s downtown is parking and 2x as much land is used for parking as greenspace, according to ​​the Tampa Downtown Partnership. 

On top of that, much of the city’s surface parking is far underused.

A survey of the city’s central and business districts shows 6,000 of the 24,000 available parking spots were unused during peak hours.

Why does it matter?

There are loads of economic, environmental, and social reasons for city planners to re-think their downtowns' excessive surface parking lots.

Here are a handful:

“But where will I park?”

Reform advocates say that the answer to that question lies in creating fewer parking options.

“Our research indicates that the percentage of land taken up by parking decreases as the percentage of individuals who opt for public transportation, walking, or biking as their primary commuting methods increases,” the Parking Reform Network writes. “This revelation underscores a clear truth: to foster densely walkable cities, we must prioritize accessibility over excessive parking.”

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