You may have noticed that parking irks me. And while I’d find it quite enjoyable to rant a while about the many ways in which excessive, poorly-designed parking wrecks a city, someone has done a much more thorough and eloquent job of that already this week.
The KunstlerCast is a podcast featuring author James Howard Kunstler that’s billed as a weekly discussion about “the tragic comedy of suburban sprawl.” This week’s episode is devoted to parking issues. Listen to it here. It’s a pretty good primer on why parking lots deserve a generous helping of scorn.
One of the best points was raised by show host, Duncan Crary: when you build massive surface parking lots around box stores, the stores are so distant from one another people won’t walk between them and drive instead. You wind up with a situation where you have to double or triple your parking allotment because every shopper needs multiple spots just to get from store to store.
That pretty succinctly sums up the problem with places like the Grasslands shopping development in the Harbour Landing suburb or the boxstore hell out on Vic East.
And, for those who count themselves among the pro-parking militants mentioned in this week’s episode, have a gander at this awesome Google map done up by Regina Urban Ecology editor and dog blogger, Laura Pfeifer. It shows that over 25 per cent of Regina’s downtown is covered by parking lots (and note how she mercifully doesn’t include on-street parking). How can anyone look at that and say the downtown doesn’t adequately cover their parking needs? And yet, I still hear from time to time people complain about how there’s nowhere to park downtown.
While I’m on the subject, I have to point out that while I like Regina’s downtown a lot, there’s one thing that really pisses me off: that parking garage on Cornwall street that’s in the picture accompanying this post. Who the hell is responsible for that eyesore? (Actually, I’ve a pretty good idea who the culprit is.) Way to enhance the city. It looks like it was built from plaster of paris, staples and chicken wire. And it makes me think of this Kunstler quote:
We put up all these terrible buildings and people should be ashamed that they allowed their community to do this. And the developers themselves should be ashamed that they were the ones who invested capital in putting up something that disgraced the town. And the members of the planning board and the mayor and the council members need to feel ashamed about the terrible choices that they’ve made.