« Freakonomics Radio

192. Parking Is Hell (Rebroadcast)

2014-08-21 | 🔗
There ain't no such thing as a free parking spot. Somebody has to pay for it -- and that somebody is everybody.
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Thanks to Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch, ass, pennsylvanians or scratching their way to fine and with new every month, big top rises and second chance, drawings, excitements, always in order so try, Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch offer your ticket to fund and get yours. Did I keep on scratch? It must be eighteen or older. Please pay responsibly benefits older pennsylvanians every day, if you like to listen to for economic radio without ads the police do that is sticker premium. Five dollars a month and you can get a free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium. Dot, com, promo code, freak thanks! a buck s listeners. Everybody knows summer is a great time for a road trip, but what about when you find the guy,
who are you going now it's time to park your car? It's been a time. Thinking about that, the lowly parking spot. We have too much time. Probably the following episode: an Encore presentation is called parking, is hell, hope you enjoy it and I hope all your parking variances this summer I less bad than the ones you're about to listen to I think, your fifty years from now on, people look back on New York and, of course, other cities that they'll say what these people think they were that's Donald shoot! He is a college so you see away. Who is obsessed with fair to comments, as too is actually he is obsessed,
with this one thing that we all do all over the world and that we do so bad shoots of it. That some day will look back at it. We now look back at blood letter seriously the living, it seemed scientific because over elaborate tables and dire realms and it had to be by surgeons and stuff now was very harmful. The other Comparison, which I think is much more appropriate, is lit. Fair appear led, was thought A wonderful healing devise as it is because its toxic too, micro organisms and therefore, if you put it on a wound, it would help, kills the infection. But people didn't oh, that it also damage the brave. So what do you think professorship is talking about? What is this thing we do so badly that future generations will compare it
bloodletting and lead. There, maybe the most mismanaged of all our resources. Parker harking terrible, truly terrible. It's crazy! It's organs, where to hand I've German around for an hour looking for a spot where she would do we're doing, and I really want to go out and we then I will park your car to total Niver yeah parking I'm fine from the w and my seeing this is for economics, radio, the package that explores the inside of everything: here's your nose, Stephen Governor,
if I asked you to name the worst things about modern society, maybe the ten worse things, I'm guessing that parking would not make your list might not make a top twenty list and yet, especially if you live or work in a city, you ve probably been scarred at some point by parking. I use part on the sidewalk and get tickets for those who do not place. Everybody has stopped supermarket horror that we don't have about stories about horror grocery Nor is it a mill or anything else They have stories about no even murders over Barneys bases, cats. Donald Shoop, again from you, see allay he is a transportation scholar who is one of the world's leading authorities on park. Now you might think that any
right thinking, transportation. Scholar would study, you know transport, but is Shoop helpfully points out. The average car spends about ninety five percent of its lifetime parked shoop trained as an economist and his economist roots often show when he talks about parking, because in his view, the biggest problem with parking is the price not too expensive to cheap he's the author of a nearly eight hundred p, book called the high cost of free parking, everybody likes free parking. Civic me, probably you, but just as a driver doesn't pay for it doesnt mean, of course, goes away. If you don't pay for partner, Somebody else has to pay for that. Somebody is everybody. We pay for her report the prices of the goals we buy it places for sport
is free. Our we pay for barking, as residents from me get free parking with our housing. We pay. This tax payers, increasingly Isaac were paying for it terms of environmental harm that it causes. I did use data to estimated parking. She's, the United, say, sir, or somewhere between one and four percent of the total GNP, which is about what base in the is what we spend for medical care or national defence, so that the cost of parking not paid for by drivers. There are, of course, many different parking scenarios. If you live in a house with a Dr Weir garage part,
is a snapped, the least when you're home, in suburban or ex urban areas you ve got big, usually free parking lots set back from the street, it office parks and malls and restaurants, and then you ve got cities, some of which offer free parking right there on the street curbside, but here's the shoop again to explain why that free parking isn't is free, as you think you don't have an Austrian, They said you have a car You live in New York, you have to drive around looking for a space hoping to see somebody going out. There was studied. Gotta. Do your very ingenious method of all simple in retrospect, as the researchers interviewed drivers who were stopped at traffic lights in Manhattan in Brooklyn and ask them if they were cruising for market on Prince Street in Manhattan. Twenty eight percent. The driver said that they were hunting for parking, even the most. People were not destined for the area, they were just traveling through the area, so those are people who don't want.
Driving? They want to be part. We did a study, here in LOS Angeles, lasted a full year cruising Bobby ourselves. Nor do a destination then hunting for as long as it took to fight a parking space. We made two hundred and forty observations. You ended up. The average time it took to space was always three ballots. Let's do they have to around the block. Crystals seem like very much about half a mile having for Barker, but where you add up all the people who parking westward ships. They have the same members that we have that adds up to four thousand six hundred vehicle miles of travel a day? That's the distance across the? U dot s, and it's just a two hundred and fifteen block Harry Westwood. If you added up for a year, that's equal to a thirty six trips around the earth. Or for trips to the moon, hunting for underpriced girl, barking, fifteen blog area- and, I think, is happening all over the world when other people do that,
studies they find very similar results. I'm just curious when we talk about urban and suburban sprawl that many people hate I think you know the common images, your cruising down that street. That has a lot of stop lights, because there are a lot of turns there. A lot of turns, causer alot of shops are a lot of shops and they all big parking lots. And now a chain reaction causes a lot of congestion, confusion, accidents, pollution, etc, etc, etc. When You think of that scenario. How much of that scenario do you think of, as caused by the ancient practice of offering free parking every you go, but it is an ancient was ancient. I mean nineteen fifties or nineteen, so you know it without shrugged. Yesterday, platters ever should include a large parts of New York, specify the minimum number of parking spaces required for every every building. The building, all as you say, or a restaurant typical
it requires at least ten space. Four thousand square feet which raises the parking lot three times bigger than the restaurant, and if nothing can be unless it means that party were horror, the party requirement was established on this. I'm sure that everybody for the part free well, it does seem to be kind. So fulfiller were people drive to it? Every city has its own parking requirements, but is a typical scenario: to build a shopping, center. You need four spaces for every one thousand square feet of store of public swimming pool as one parking space for every twenty five hundred gallons of water. If you want to build a beauty shop, he needs three spaces per nutrition, but a nunnery needs only one space pretend none level required, Barkie spreads buildings, a part of it makes walking less pleasant.
This way to travel is always curse. Trafficker, stare at TAT lights and breeze fumes, and then we expect a bar free. When we get there, I think they up side of the matter That work is a terrific opportunity, there's all this vacant lab that can be built on in cities. I may, I think, we're the Saudi Arabia of developing land in cities. If, if cities reduced eliminated, their minimum party were promised a lot of these Barker laws could be built on four infield development. So issue points out. There are two distinct parking problems in the suburbs too much, land goes to parking because of somewhat arbitrary requirements, and then those areas become harder to navigate and walk in in cities Alot of St Parking, their free or underpriced, which leads to too many drivers cruising for spots. This creates
more congestion, pollution and accident risk. I think world would be a lot better. If we had never force people to provide more part in their willing to and if we had charged the right price for Kerr Parker? What is the right price for Kerr? Parker I would say that this has been adopted in more. More serious is that the right price is the lowest price. The city can charge and leave under hitherto bakers bases on every block so that nobody can say it's hard to find a space because wherever they go, they see a space. That makes sense. Doesn't it at least to an economist If you are selling something in so many people are trying to buy it that it makes a mess for everyone. You are plainly chart too little. So how do you figure
in the programme, we will hear how Donald Shoop and others are trying, but before we go micro, let's go macro, let's get a sense of just how much parking we're talking about in a country. The biggest United States there's some cities that the ratio of surface parking is very high. Euston, for example, symptoms could be thirty to thirty percent of the overall area. Thirty to thirty five percent of Houston, is surface parking lot of some areas. Is IRAN been Joseph teaches urban studies in planning at MIT? He too has written a book about parking, called rethinking a lot, the design and culture of parking. While Donald Shoop is the godfather of parking studies. Ben Joseph is one of a growing number of what some people call shoe pieces and Joseph an israeli he's, lived and worked all over the world.
In the United States. The first thing that you experience a thing to somebody who come from a small country that is much dancers. The amount of open space, the Lord city and in a way, I'm extent the ample supply of available land is something striking in that sector. The dependency on the car and the lack of fur to some extent, public transportation parts of the EU s verses, other countries and those that I experienced first hand such as Japan, Israel in Europe a very different. I think, if you ask most people what they think about parking, most people think or would say There's not enough parking for starters. Do we know or do you know how many parking spaces are actually are in Amerika, let's say so weird try to calculate that, and my interest was mainly on surface parking lot, which are again the lowest on the kind of evolution chain. If you will of parking surface lots
Are the most mundane, cheapest type of parking that you can construct? We don't have a very good estimate. They run all over the map, but I think the best guess that I could give you is that there are about three parking spaces for ever. A car in the United States, and so that's for the whole country is that enables only for passenger cars right o myself. We have two hundred and fifty million cars in the United States passenger cars, and you multiply that by about average of three, of course you know people in New York or tell YO somewhere, but no way way three three working, but of course you have to look at it. You know with regard to the whole country, so that brings it. It almost hundred million spaces against just surface lots, as you said, and those are just surface law and then and then, in addition to surface lots there are. You have garages, of course, have peoples on parking spaces in there in their home, driveways driveways garages, I'm talking about public spy
says or private spaces that are surface its structure and it may be hard to estimate, but what share of total parking spaces? Would you say that died? These surface lots constitute you know that the good one I'd think that is somewhere between the say around seventy percent sixty to seventy percent. Ok, so you're saying that these surface thoughts constitute may be sixty or seventy percent of the overall parking supply in the? U S, and then, if we were to add in let's say the other, the rest that thirty or forty percent we might get to a figure where there are roughly four four and a half parking spot in Amerika for every go and some people, and some people even claimed that there are eight. So how can we possibly He complained that the world has exactly as it is a wonderful cord from somebody who can remember where it was has calculated that in that particular sea They were almost eight spaces for car and then you published it, and I think that the people
plan that when I still can't ever find park in the world, we say no, eight spaces for my car in cash couldn't tell IRAN Ben Joseph doesn't like, although surface lots, and not just because of the sprawl environmentally paving over huge swaths of land, is in a very good idea. So how to do better Ben Joseph has some thoughts. At the very least, you could break up huge lots with trees and vegetation paint. The parking lots
color, so they don't absorb so much. He used permeable, paving materials to cut down on run off now. To be honest, the lot of academics have neat ideas. They think will fix a world and most of the time, no one pays attention to them. But a few years ago, something strange and potentially wonderful happened in the realm of parking. Some transportation officials in San Francisco would read Donald Ships, work about the high cost of free parking, cited to put one of his theories to the test. If it works, will make San Francisco or even better place to live and do business and visit it'll just be yet another feather of the cap of San Francisco. If it doesn't work that is blame at all or professor from LOS Angeles,
when we come back, will hear about that San Francisco parking experiment anvil here about an incredibly common fraud that threatens to ruin just about any part, before. Thanks to Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch, ass, pennsylvanians or scratching their way to fine and with new every month, big top rises and second chance, drawings, excitements, always in order. So? Try, Pennsylvania, lottery scratch, offer your ticket to fund and get yours. Did I keep on scratch? It must be eighteen or older. Please pay responsibly benefits older pennsylvanians every day
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as we learn from some of the poorest smartest people in their fields, if then is out now just search, if slash than to find the show that, if slash then no spaces, listen in stature apple, the serious Ex m F or wherever you get your PA casts. It's sort of your life, Your trapped, there's no way out, you know and you get to aspire. Have to be in the parking is not happening. It's system miserable experience I drove around looking for us makes it wasn't metered. It took me twenty five minutes
from W and Y see. This is for economics, radio. Here's your host, Stephen Debonair, Michael Manville, is an assistant professor of city and regional planning, Coronel University: you, no cars are at their most useful to us. One were driving them and that's when we think about them, but we're not talking about, driving today we're talking about what happens to cars during the ninety five percent of the time, their not being driven we're talking about parking. I think that a lot of transportation scholarship deals with driving the same way that everyday people do, which has just. You know out of sight out of mind. You know once you're, not in your car Vinos lies you're, pretty confident that we can break into it like who cares? So we can agree that you are obsessed with the most boring part of car ownership, yes parking, yet as probably Pheromones, unfair characterisation, Manville
phd at you see, I lay under parking guru, Donald Shoop, and it is ships, research the recently inspired the city of San Francisco to try and experiment called S F park. Your shoop again was a pilot project as possible by the? U s- Department of Transportation, to look at the effects of trying to get the price of parking right. It's easy to explain that they have sensors, are the ground, a measure, the occupancy of each of the seven thousand spaces, ITALY about eight spaces on EAST Bloc and on blocks? Where are they five, a hierarchy believes are all fall. They not job, surprise and on blocks further lot of empty space. They does the prices down. They dont. Do it every day. They they changed the prices every six weeks. They have different prices at different times of the day is but
before doing from noon to three and that after three p m, but those prices can be different on different blogs. Changing prices like that based on demand and time of day is called dynamic. Pricing in some industries been happening for years, airline tickets, for instance, but for something like municipal parking. Well, this is a pretty big deal if you're a guy like MIKE Manville, the city planning Professor Cornell, who studied under shoop. This is incredibly exciting. So s half park is probably the best experiment we have so far with the idea of sort of performance priced, curb parking, there's two components to
The sort of dynamic part of the dynamic pricing and one is that at different times of day, the prices are higher and lower so that nine, a dot m. The price might be three dollars, but at noon, when you expect a lot of people to be out and about for lunch, it might be three hundred and fifty, and then it might fall again by four p dot m back down to three dollars. So there's a price change that happens over the course of a day. The other part of it is that, each Once ass, a park evaluates overall occupancy and decides if the price on a particular block has to go up or down so that same block face where the price was three dollars than three fifty three dollars over the course of a day in July. Might by September, be four dollars for fifty and three twenty five or something like that. So the idea is to capture the true price of parking for that area. Yeah. You essentially establish a market in parking
Scholars like Manville in Shoop argue that if you get the price of parking right, a lot of other problems, gifts Now some drivers may have to pay more, but they can park where they want to park when they want, which is good for drivers and good for businesses, there'd be less cruising for parking spots, which means less congestion and pollution, but for dynamic praised parking to work, you do need people who are supposed to pay for the parking spot to actually pay for them and make Manville discovered that doesn't always happen. He in a co author, ran a study of St Parking in Lhasa,
Endless, which has the highest auto density of any american city Manville in his team surveyed. Thousands of parking meters and found that- and I quote at any given time almost forty percent of vehicles parked at meters- are both not paying and not breaking any laws There are three reasons why a vehicle could be sitting at a parking meter not having paid and and not be breaking the law, and so the first one is simply that the meat failed. The other one is government credentials so that you know if you're my counterfeit money, I placard
my concern. The embryo, a lot of places have actual rules. That say you know with your cop or you work for City Council member in a particular car. You don't have to pay it router. You ve never been married to some one who knew a cop pretty much I mean I am exaggerating, but we know that there are a lot of people who find a way to have occurred and Asia the way to get a credential in and even in places where it is actually not on the books that these people are exempt from meters, informally, nobody, tickets, police officer right. So that's a share of non payment as well legal, non payment and then the last one and the big one is disability credentials, practically the disabled placards that are hung from the rearview mirror in at the time. We did. That study- and I think this has changed the little bit there is, but twenty five states where, if you had disabled credential, ah, you could just pull up to any metered space part for free and often for very long periods of time. Ok, what share roughly are each of these
the handicapped, the largest of them yet far and away the disabled. Placard really was the lion's share, and I think that its useful to compare that category of non payment with the sort of traditional scoff law. You know, I'm just gonna parking, not pay, and it was twice. Yeah. I think normally, when we hear about cities losing meter revenue, we just think about. You know bad enforcement and people aren't paying and nobody's busting them, but twice as many spaces were occupied by vehicles hanging disabled placards as by people who would just sort of chosen not to feed the meter right so you're, saying in the paper that one of the reforms that would help solve this problem of wildly misused parking spaces is ending the practice of granting free time, unlamented parking to vehicles displaying disabled placards when you present a city or when a city learns of your research, do they say oh well, MIKE thanks for solving this? For me now we know why our parting is such a mess. All we got to do is get rid of all the handicap. Placards is that happened,
oh yeah, I mean people just jump on board this right away. I mean there's no elected official on earth who doesn't want to remove an entitlement- that's at least normally for disadvantaged groups, so that they can charge everyone else more to park. I mean it's just a it's a killer idea. No, of course not. This is a political kryptonite. Certainly, but then that is the issue is frustrating for you in the e I mean, do you feel that you identified the problem to solve that would not fix parking by any stretch, but would certainly is a significant strain on it, and yet because you identified a problem, this politically not very savory. That it is probably not going to have much effect. Well, I mean in part, is it sure, if there's a little bit of frustration, but also that's life? Right I mean if I, if I really wanted to you, know, get into the trenches and everything I wouldn't be.
Derek Fisher, hey. If everyone is so, I may feel, like somebody limit that actually yeah there's there's people who changed the world and those people who play with spreadsheets. You know I attended fallen the latter camp old shoop, maybe because he is the eminent squeeze of parking scholarship aspires to both camps. He would really like to solve this implacable placard problem. Parker abuses just about everywhere and everybody has a story or many stories about it. Twenty two, usually football players, were found with disabled placards.
So a couple of states have done found a really clever way to get around this, so Michigan had allow the placard abuse, so they have a two tier system of disabled placards. They were revised laws so that only people who have extreme trouble walking or cat use, a meter because their hand, disabilities, only those be are eligible for a special player that allows free parking at meters to the other people that could use your disabled placard to disable spots at grocery stores and things like that. Well, Well, when this law came to affect only two percent of the people, was blockers applied for the special placard which requires a dock his visit and showing that you had a real disability that prevented Walker. So in some most of the disabled placard abuse problem, I think we should really support. That percent of the two percent who really need the free barking, because I can't get to the meter Illinois
is a copy. This law- and I am recommending for California because their box, at LOS Angeles, you could walk long. You see every single card meter has a disable placard, so it doesn't make any difference with the prices really undermines any attempt to manage Barker the attempt to manage parking in San Francisco, as F Park has been in place for more than a year prices, up and down at different times of the day and on different blocks according to demand, so does Ss Park work, that is, does it get the price of parking right? And if so, does that six other problems, the short answer is we don't know yet it'll be a while before there's enough data to answer the questions we re they want to know lake do cause, spend less time cruising for spots. Dupe buses run faster, are pedestrians and bicycles
safer, our businesses hurt or helped. One thing we do know for sure is how the parking prices changed. Some blocks got more expensive, others less, but the surprising thing, surprising least, Donald Shoop. Is it over all the price of street Parking fell. Everybody expected prices to go through the roof. They said this is another money grab by the city is a tax on motorists as part of the war on cars, but it turned out not to Is that where a lot of spaces were overpriced, I think is a good thing that the prices are lower so that you gave me a more custom. Those first stores of industries that have now lower prices. I think that's one of the big surprises, but it's true of any market It real estate, those Ngos, location, location, location, the most convene, its basis. In other words, you are expected to have higher prices,
the less convenient miles or the one you expect to have lower prices, and I think that what s part does is to get the price right in every location. I will learn so much from this carefully controlled experiment that it should convince people, This is a good idea about a good idea. that's right, it may be. For all the care and logic put into an experiment like this: something is seemingly simple: is parking is hard to fix because of because of how people respond to incentive? it may be, for instance, it all those people who get hold of handicapped placards and other parking credentials take up so many of the good spots for
three and four hours and hours and hours that smart perking will remain I asked make Manville what he's learn from watching the best parking ideas from academia get put into play in the real world. So I think it probably teaches all of us who are academics, that you know the real worth complicated and messy that we come up with these ideas and they seem entirely valid to us. Anything is very common for us, his academics, to sort of role our eyes and policy makers, and they all. Why don't they just listen to us? And I think it's been. Then kind of has been very educational and occasionally humbling to watch ideas that I strongly believe in. You know sort of get put into practice, and see how difficult it is for the folks on the front lines to actually do them? So so I think that it's been a real learning process in both directions
Donald Shoop as energetic and optimistic as he is acknowledges that when you try to change how people park you're going up against a bigger enemy, then a strip of asphalt, you're going up. Against biology the course signs will always held episodes about hunting for poor, her other web hosting best from Seinfeld as well. I think Georgia laid were driving to Jerry support. London ensures that I never pay brought in paying for parties like going to a prostitute. When I apply myself, maybe I can get it for free and I think I think so people are trying to get it for free. We didn't make up a great nation by big bunch of freeloaders, expecting something for nothing, but when it comes to parking, I think Our brains shift down to a lower level of intellectual proof,
Farmers must have reptilian cortex of our brains, the other than the earliest. Most image of part of the brain was makes fighter. Flight decisions or how to avoid being eaten her? How to get food? and we would say things about park or that we would never say about something. We really knew about. Thanks to Donald Shoop, all of us at least know a little bit more about parking, but the future that's hard to no parking might get worse or for all kinds of reasons like it better. The world keeps getting more urbanized more people on foot bikes, mass transit, baby car sharing will become more popular, which would lessen parking demand and most exciting. To me, at least, is the future of
the driverless car. Now some smart people think that in ten or twenty years most cars will be controlled by computers rather than accident prone Instagram, addicted coffee drinking eyeliner, applying human beings hell if all cars were driverless, Would you still need to own one, or would you be willing to just someone the way you now call a cab would come pick. You up then drop you off and instead of having to park at the curb and wait for you, you could come Pick me up or one of any other million people near by and then, when you're done doing, whatever you're doing you summon a different car to come, get you how great with that be and how much less parking would we need. Maybe ATLAS and then comes the really hard part. What do we do with those millions and millions and millions of parking spaces. We built all over the World
None of these! Maybe if I guess this news on next week show people can behave pretty badly on the internet. The way you get attention is by acting out the way you get attention is by attacking people, flaming trolling, you know sort of intentionally leading people on so forth, but what keeps people from having even worse how we
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Transcript generated on 2021-03-12.