Parking and Downtown Vitality?

What’s the relation of readily accessible parking and the vitality of a downtown area? If you don’t live in a center city area, you might think about how much more likely a trip downtown would be if you knew you could find a parking spot. But here’s an interesting Hartford Courant article that looks at the demise of downtown Hartford that accompanied the drive to expand parking space. Here’s a key tidbit from a study by UConn’s Center for Transportation and Urban Planning: “Since 1960, the number of parking spaces in downtown Hartford increased by more that 300 percent — from 15,000 to 46,000 spaces. This change has had a profound and devastating effect on the structure and function of the city.” And “parking and transportation policy in Hartford has had the perverse effect of inducing an unending cycle of more demand for parking. Like a dog chasing its tail, the city is constantly playing catch-up — the more parking provided, the more parking is needed.”

How might we approach these concerns about accessibility and urban vitality? About transportation and livable city spaces? Just some of what we’ll explore in the Shaping Our Towns and Cities project.

–Jeff Prudhomme

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