500 million reasons to rethink the parking lot By Jared Green
A version of this story first appeared on The Dirt.
Photo by Matt Johnson.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a Prius or a Hummer, you have the same environmental impact. So argues MIT landscape architecture and planning professor Eran Ben-Joseph in his fascinating new book, ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking.
Whatever could he mean? Cars, on average, are immobile 95 percent of the time, taking up the same 9-by-18 foot paved rectangle. All of those paved spaces increase runoff into streams and wetlands, create heat islands, increase glare and light pollution, and shape the character of our cities.
To grasp the magnitude of the problem, consider that there are 500 million surface parking lots in the U.S. alone. In some cities, parking lots take up one-third of all land area, “becoming the single most salient landscape feature of our built environment,” Ben-Joseph writes.
But, to this day, he says, “parking lots are considered a necessary evil; unsightly, but essential to the market success of most developments.” So the time is definitely ripe to redesign the lot. ..................(more)