Cars are stationary for upwards of 90% of their existence. The amount of land devoted to parking in the US is greater than the size of Connecticut. The average car holds just 1.13 people during the daily commute. These are just some of the reasons I am eagerly awaiting the end of the era of car ownership. There is just too much inefficiency in this system.
Thanks to a confluence of factors, notably a shift away from the fetishisation of ownership, some of the ridiculousness in this system is starting to disappear. The number of 19 year-olds with drivers licenses has dropped 20% in 30 years for example. And the opportunities in this shift are huge – this is why Uber is valued (I would say undervalued) at upwards of $US 60 billion.
Clive Thompson has an incredible article in the upcoming Mother Jones on this very shift – through the lense of the demise of the parking space.
Some great parts:
Studies have found that anywhere from about 30 to 60 percent of the cars you see driving around a downtown core are just circling, looking for an open space to claim.
When Donald Shoup, an urban-planning professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, examined just one small business area near his university—Westwood Village—he found that “cruising” for parking, as he dubs it, burns 47,000 gallons of gas and generates 730 tons of carbon dioxide a year.
…when people don’t pay to park at the curb (only a tiny fraction of curbside spots in the United States are metered), it’s the city that pays to build and maintain that spot. These costs are passed down to consumers and taxpayers, but since they’re never itemized, they’re easy to ignore.
When a group of MIT scientists crunched data on Boston-area commuting patterns, they found that if 50 percent of drivers shifted over to ride-sharing, it would reduce traffic congestion by 37 percent and decrease the number of vehicles on the road by 19 percent.
if you shifted the entire city to autonomous cars, it would need a staggering 90 percent less parking than it needs today.
Imagine if 90 percent of all curbside parking spots were turned into strips of public parks, filled with greenery, urban gardening, and people relaxing.
This is a great and long article, going into many more issues and aspects than I have here. You should really check it out at Mother Jones