Resource – Transport Newsletter – Parking and sustainability
By guest author, Stephen Ingrouille, Principal, Going Solar, Transport Newsletter #18, 23 April 2007
How parking relates to sustainability is an interesting subject. Off-street parking can have some benefits but on the other hand there are issues related to land utilisation, traffic generation and infrastructure cost. Multi-level parking has additional problems of significant embodied energy (in the structures) & the need for 24 hour lighting on each floor regardless of the number of vehicles (eg on a Sunday night).
Just as the air-conditioning industry has had to come to terms with sustainable design so too will the parking industry, for example by using new technologies to provide natural lighting to minimise artificial lighting. Im particularly keen on giving priority parking spaces to (in this order) (a) disabled drivers, (b) electric vehicles, (c) bicycles/tricycles (d) flex-cars (e) hybrid-vehicles, etc.
When I was in Hobart recently I was told that the city has a series of (free) car parks dotted around the edges of the city. This at least encourages people to walk for part of the journey which has obvious health and social benefits. The talk of new car parking stations in the city centre therefore rings a few alarm bells, not just because of the ongoing maintenance costs but also because of addition pressure on congestion. The motor car had the potential to be a wonderfully liberating machine but where it is caught in congestion, or reduces the amenity of others, we need to start asking questions. My own view is that by providing quality public transport (and here I dont include most bus â€˜milk runs) we free up the existing road infrastructure for those that want to (or need to) use their cars. This is a win-win situation.
“Car parks are often poorly designed and located, and create unpleasant and potentially unsafe environments, and pedestrian barriers between different developments and the surrounding neighbourhood. Car parks must be available for an activity centre to remain viable, though the
efficacy of their use, and their location and design can be improved to ensure pedestrian and cycling environments are not degraded.”
Ref: DSE 2005: Activity Centre Design Guidelines, Element 8: Car Parking