Washington, DC – January 14, 2015 – When we say we can’t find anywhere to park, what we usually mean is we can’t find a free or insanely cheap parking spot within spitting distance of our destination. As a nation of parkers we’re all home run hitters who’ve forgotten what it’s like to knock a single—or, as a closer metaphor, to draw a walk. The result is a misperception that parking is scarce despite the great deal of lots, street spaces, or garages that might exist a block or two away.

Some new research reminds us just how oversupplied parking really tends to be in American metro areas: in a word, enormously. Rachel Weinberger and Joshua Karlin-Resnick of Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates analyzed parking studies of 27 mixed-use districts across the United States and found “parking was universally oversupplied, in many cases quite significantly.” On average across the cases, parking supply exceeded demand by 65 percent.

“You see a huge amount of land dedicated to parking,” said Karlin-Resnick, who presented the work Tuesday at the 94th annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board. “That land, particularly in downtowns, could really be dedicated to more active uses, economic generators, and by extension tax generators.”

(CityLab, Eric Jaffe)