Reforming parking policy is an urgent imperative which could have significant positive effects on the natural environment, our cities, the economy, and our society. For many issues, from affordable housing to carbon emissions, it is an obvious solution that has remained hidden in plain sight for too long. — Graphing Parking
Architect Seth Goodman has taken it upon himself to expose how dramatically parking plays a role in planning, through a series of nifty infographics that show just how much parking space is allotted for a given institution or destination. Inspired by Donald Shoup's The High Cost of Free Parking as a student at Rice University, Goodman has created five different charts comparing a city’s minimal parking space regulations to the square footage of the institution that the parking accommodates, such as a restaurant or office space. The results show an amazing inconsistency regarding how much space is devoted to parking across different cities.
In the above graphic, pitting “Worship Space vs. Parking Space”, the national average for a worship space (6,000 ft2) is compared to the square footage devoted to parking at said space of worship. Fresno, California clocks in at 32,500 ft2 of parking for an average worship space, whereas San Francisco has only a tenth of that, at 3,250. Keep in mind that, as of 2011, San Francisco’s population was approximately 813,000, whereas Fresno's was a mere 501,000. So despite having 60% of San Francisco’s population, Fresno devotes ten times as much space to parking at spaces of worship. “In places where humility and frugality are often upheld as primary values,” Goodman quips, “parking minimums for worship spaces are often extravagant, consuming many times the area of the sanctuary.”
In addition to variants in minimal parking regulations per institutions, the metric for determining that minimum also varies across cities -- while usually based on the area required for seating, what constitutes an individual seat differs between cities, throwing the whole calculation to predict the space needed for cars. In calculating parking spaces for office buildings, it’s not the number of workers but the footprint of the officespace that determines how much parking is needed.
Goodman currently works as an architect in Bogotá, Columbia. More infographics are on the way, and he’s open to constructive criticism to improve the graphics’ legibility.