Parking: Its Effect on the Form and the Experience of the City

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Taul, Stephen
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This paper argues for the rethinking of parking policy to maximize social interaction in the public realm. This proposal is framed by three questions. First, what are the recent findings from urban design and planning research and practice about the proper amount, ownership structure, and design of parking to enable walkable urbanism? Second, what specific characteristics enable parking to be integrated into dense urban districts without sacrificing the social significance of the public realm? Third, what policies and design strategies can be developed, based on the evidence above, to promote the creation of walkable urbanism? Three urban districts in Atlanta are the focus of the detailed analysis of parking. These are Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead. These three districts were chosen because of their similar status as the three largest commercial and financial districts in the city, but unique orientation to the automobile. Their current parking requirements are compared based on quantity as well as other factors. Parcel data is used to show the parcels with parking as a principle land used to roughly estimate the amount of street activity generated by parking. Representational buildings are selected to analyze and can be divided into three typologies based on the building's orientation to the automobile, each having implications on the functionality of the city. In order to create a walkable urban district, parking regulations must be redesigned to prioritize the pedestrian and promote the most efficient use of space. This can be accomplished by regulating the amount, ownership and design of parking. Five basic rules can be used to ensure that parking prioritizes the pedestrian experience. These rules include: parking requirements based on factors of walkability, required shared parking, common ownership of parking, maximized on-street parking, and direct connections from off-street parking to the public sidewalk.
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