The other day I saw two bikes, belonging to fellow residents of our block, locked to a signpost in front of the building across the street. Parked in front of them, on the street, were two cars--SUVs in this case--also belonging to neighbors.
The contrast in spatial requirements was pretty striking:
Today I went out with a tape and measured the actual square footage required for parking two personal vehicles:
- Two bikes: 4' x 8', totaling 32 square feet.
- Two cars, 8' x 40', totaling 320 square feet.
It's not just that this space needs to be built and maintained; there's an opportunity cost associated with it. If all streets were narrower--say, in a bicycle-oriented city such as (famously) Amsterdam, which still allows room for reasonable motor vehicle use--you would have more room for housing, civil amenities, schools, and businesses. This would result in a more active economy--more people working, dining, buying in a given area. Parked cars do not participate in the economy. This would also result in more sales tax and property tax returning to the city for a given area, meaning better schools, libraries, sanitation, possibly health care, and more--as well as better maintenance of remaining road space, a boon to drivers as well as cyclists.
Just sayin'. America's thralldom to the car costs us in health, time...and money.
We can do better.