I’m a big podcast listener. One of my FAVOURITE podcasts is the ‘Freaknomics’ podcast. I think it’s simply awesome and really makes you think.
A few episodes ago the two creators had a podcast on parking lots. Now, I know what you’re thinking….PARKING LOTS!?
But bear with me here. So, the underlying theory is that by having parking lots in an urban centre such as Mississauga or Toronto, they fulfill a self-fulfilling prophecy (i.e., by HAVING parking lots, or having the availability of parking spaces, people WILL drive). People will choose to use their own cars versus public transit.
This is HUGE. Why? Well let’s think of the ECONOMIC impacts of just a tonne of cars on the road.
NOISE – certainly the more cars on the road, the more engine noise, the more honk-honks, and beep-beeps.
POLLUTION – more cars = more pollution…this is a given.
ROAD DAMAGE – this is HUGE. Have you ever driven on the Gardiner Expressway? I rest my case.
The costs are SUBSTANTIAL. So what do we do? Well, the theorists suggest that we ELIMINATE the number of parking lots, or make parking spaces more expensive (or make parking more expensive at certain times of day in certain locations – maybe right in the core), so that less people will drive.
This is very interesting and it really makes you think. There are cities in the United States that are actually using this theory right now. What’s happening is that there is a HUGE shift in thinking. Less people are using their own vehicles and are now using transit OR they are moving closer to work. The economic impacts are MASSIVE. If less tax dollars are spent on road repairs, as well as other direct/indirect costs associated with traffic, pollution and car ownership, then MORE dollars are spent on building other, inner-city infrastructure.
This has me thinking – with Mississauga introducing its LRT system (and I can see this connecting to multiple nodes across the GTA in the future), will people STILL prefer to use their cars? Or will they want to use the LRT system? If Mississauga had LESS parking lots, or more expensive parking spaces, would people still want to drive downtown?
I am really curious to hear what people think about this. It’s pretty radical and it makes you think what some of the larger Municipalities’ (in the GTA) agendas are when the number of outside parking lots are being turned into residential buildings.