A motorcyclist pays for parking downtown Victoria. Local transportation advocate Lorne Daniel says people should rethink the priority of convenient parking in the midst of a climate crisis. (Black Press File Photo)

A motorcyclist pays for parking downtown Victoria. Local transportation advocate Lorne Daniel says people should rethink the priority of convenient parking in the midst of a climate crisis. (Black Press File Photo)

LETTER: Reduce ease of parking, increase ease of accessibility

Prioritizing sustainable transportation in a time of climate crisis

Let’s reduce the convenience of car parking, I said in the first part of this commentary. But what about those who can’t easily walk, or bike, or take transit? More accommodations for them, I say. More accessible handicapped stalls and more curbside drop-off zones.

But for the rest of us, less convenient and more expensive vehicle parking is needed in order to shift us to a lower carbon society. Reducing the amount of parking for able bodied people actually makes it easier for us to provide ample handicapped parking and drop-off zones.

With the foreseeable rise of ride-hail services, there will be even more demand for curb drop-off. Let’s make that available while also improving space for people on foot and on bikes, for bus lanes, for wheelchairs, and for sidewalk business activity. Vibrant streets don’t depend on parked, privately-owned vehicles.

READ MORE: Final leg of Wharf Street bike lane, Humboldt Street plaza now open

We need to refocus on health, wellness, and climate. Transportation accounts for about 40% of our carbon footprint in this region. Province-wide, transportation is our largest category of greenhouse gasses. Clearly, if we are to reduce our GHGs, we need to reduce single vehicle use. The CRD recently declared that we are “in a climate emergency.”

Cars also take a lot of space. Four cars lined up to make a left turn at an intersection look like a significant line. Yet four people standing on the corner curb take very little space. Unfortunately, our street designs, in the form of advance green lights, multiple vehicle lanes, and parking, often give priority to our wealthiest people in large, personal vehicles.

I get that cars can be pleasurable places to be. Cushy upholstery, windows sealing off the city noise, your own choice of music. I have a nice car myself and grew up, like many, idolizing cool car designs. But individuals can change. Groups can change. Cities can change.

Change requires leadership, not opinion polls. Ask people how much parking they want and the answer will almost always be “more.” During city planning consultations, instead of asking how much parking people want, we should be asking what’s the healthiest mix of street uses.

Our parking expectations also push up the cost of housing. Parking minimums for residential buildings mean that, in most cases, developers have to build underground parking at a cost of $50,000-$100,000 per stall. That cost is passed on to buyers and renters. When people are unable to afford such housing, they commute from beyond the city core. Parking requirements push working people out of our city.

Meanwhile, 40 per cent of parking in most apartments and condos sits empty. Cities that have now removed parking minimums from new housing construction include Hartford, Buffalo, Minneapolis and Santa Monica. We need to follow their lead and build housing, not parking.

A 700 page book, The High Cost of Free Parking, analyses the economic and impacts of parking. It’s been out since 2005. Almost 15 years later, it’s time for us to start to change our behaviours.

Lorne Daniel

Victoria

– Lorne Daniel is a Victoria resident who walks, bikes, drives a car, takes transit, and has been a wheelchair user. His work in urban change has won awards from national and international organizations. He is founder of Greater Victoria Placemaking Network.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One person is dead after a camper van caught fire Thursday morning in Victoria's Beacon Hill Park. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
One person dead after vehicle fire in Beacon Hill Park

Investigation into Victoria death in early stages

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fairy Creek protesters gather at Victoria courthouse

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

Victoria police are searching for a federal offender who is wanted Canada-wide after his statutory release was suspended. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police searching for federal offender wanted Canada-wide

Warrant issued after offender’s statutory release suspended

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Lansdowne Middle School.
(Black Press Media File Photo)
Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Construction takes place on Bamfield Main in early February 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY CTV NEWS)
Ongoing Bamfield roadwork unrelated to planned $30M fix

Construction by Mosaic unrelated to $30M upgrade ordered in wake of fatal bus crash

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is forwarding a motion on illegal dumping to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ upcoming annual general meeting. (Kane Blake photo)
Island communities asked to join forces in seeking help fighting illegal dumping

RDN resolution to be forwarded to Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

Mid day at the Vancouver Port Intersection blockade on March 3, organized by the Braided Warriors. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
Anti-pipeline blockade at Vancouver intersection broken up by police

Demonstraters were demanding the release of a fellow anti-TMX protester

Most Read