In a recent post I argued that cities should try to increase the amount of on-street parking they have available. In Provo, that would better take advantage of existing infrastructure and would allow some of the private parking — of which there is a sickening 12,744 spots in Joaquin alone — to be developed into family housing.
But Provo already allows street parking, so how can it add more?
One way would be to install angled parking:
Angled parking uses less linear curb length per parking space than traditional parallel parking so more spaces can be provided on the same block. In addition, angled parking acts as a traffic calming device because a passing driver is aware that a parked vehicle could back into the roadway at any moment.
People in Provo will be familiar with angled parking from Center Street, where it lines both sides of the street as well as the median. And though this type of parking is more common in commercial districts like downtown, the traffic calming effects would be a great addition to residential neighborhoods as well. Indeed if we’re not going to make our streets narrower, we can at least de-incentivize speeding and unsafe driving.
Here’s a crude sketch of how this might work in a residential neighborhood:
Angled parking on a residential street.
In the picture above, the green lines represent the new angled parking, the blue boxes represent parked cars and the yellow boxes represent moving cars. I know it’s pretty rough, but you get the idea: today’s dead space is turned into the parking space of tomorrow.
As I hope is apparent, there’s plenty of room for this solution on Provo’s residential streets. I’ve chosen to stagger and limit the amount of angled parking in this picture because I think it looks better and might be better for traffic flow (and to preempt people who don’t want too much more street parking). However, there’s more than enough room to put in angled parking everywhere if people really wanted to be efficient.
Also note how in the picture traffic is basically not impacted by the addition of more parking. Right now this is a two lane street and with angled parking it remains a two lane street. The only thing this changes is that suddenly we’re getting more value out of our infrastructure investment.
In addition to downtown, there are a few spots where this is already sort of happening in Provo:
A street just off of 9th East.
Angled and parallel parking in a mixed residential-commerical area of downtown.
This picture was taken just up the street from the last one. I think this house is technically zoned for commercial use, but there’s no reason this parking strategy wouldn’t work in purely residential areas.
I realize that some people in Provo really dislike on-street parking. While I don’t fully understand the logic behind that position, I recognize that a bunch of angled parking on residential streets probably doesn’t sound like a great idea to everyone.
But most of us can also probably agree that huge parking lots in residential neighborhoods are a problem. I’ve never met someone who likes them. Adding angled parking would allow us to significantly reduce the number and frequency of these parking lots. (In the best case scenario, people who wanted could even add four angled spots in front of their houses, then build a new home in their driveway and sell it for a quarter of a million dollars. We’d all get rich.)
In any case, even if you don’t care about efficiency and getting the most out of our infrastructure dollars this idea makes sense because it allows us to reserve less of our residential land for parking. The streets exist and, despite my calls to narrow them, I’ve been told that they’re probably going to stay more or less the same. If that’s the case, we need to figure out better ways to use them.