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Cheap Parking Still Causing Traffic

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UCLA Professor Donald Shoup has been saying it for years: "inexpensive parking fosters urban decay, contributes to sprawl and motivates people to drive alone." How? It's that circling around effect, you know, when looking for spaces, avoiding valet. "Low meter rates can further congest city streets as motorists search for cheap parking spaces," the LA Times writes. "Studies in New York indicate that motorists on the hunt represent about 28% of all traffic on Manhattan and 45% in Brooklyn."

Rumor has it that the LA City Council will be raising the cost of parking throughout the city to a one dollar per hour minimum (don't worry, if that happens, parking for a half hour won't require the full dollar). In Westwood, Shoup and students conducted an experiment at 50-cent/hour meters:

In Los Angeles, Shoup and his students studied a 15-block area of Westwood Village, where street parking costs 50 cents an hour except during the evenings and Sundays, when it is free. They determined that searches for cheap curbside parking added about 2,500 vehicle trips a day in the area. The average search took about 3.3 minutes, but in the late afternoon and evening, searches took up to 12 minutes.
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Though, it may seem, a bit backwards, placing parking meters in Old Pasadena helped revitalize the business district into what it is today. "Downtown Los Angeles would thrive like Old Pasadena or San Diego if the city priced parking correctly," asserts Shoup.

Photo by nahh via Flickr