If Americans Paid for the Parking We Consume, We’d Drive 500 Billion Fewer Miles Each Year

Most parking spots might cost you nothing, but parking is never really free. We just pay for it in ways that are completely divorced from our actual consumption of parking.

Free parking at the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania. Photo: Montgomery County Planning Commission/Flickr
Free parking at the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania. Photo: Montgomery County Planning Commission/Flickr

Most parking spots might cost you nothing, but parking is never really free. We just pay for it in ways that are completely divorced from our actual consumption of parking.

Instead of paying directly for parking, the costs are almost always bundled into the price of other things we consume. These costs are very real — it takes a lot of land, material, and labor to build and maintain parking spaces — but in the name of cheap driving, we’ve made them invisible. Everything else costs more so that driving can cost less.

Pricing a good this way produces what economists call a market distortion. Because the price of parking is hidden, Americans purchase more parking than we would if we paid for it directly.

Let’s say, for example, that the rent for an apartment also includes a parking space that costs $100 a month. The parking appears to be free, but if the rent was reduced by $100 a month and the parking was sold separately, how many people would still pay for it? Some would choose to pay for car storage and others would not — the net result would be less parking consumption than when the price of parking is hidden.

All these hidden parking costs add up to a huge subsidy for cars and driving.

In a new report, Todd Litman, a transportation economist who studies the effects of subsidies for parking and roads at the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in British Columbia, estimates that the annualized cost of land, construction, maintenance, and operations per parking space in the U.S. comes out to $600 [PDF]. Since there are about four parking spaces per vehicle in America, the cost per car is $2,400 each year.

But most parking is “free,” so Americans only spend about $85 annually on parking per vehicle, according to Litman, meaning the annual parking subsidy per vehicle is more than $2,300. That exceeds what Americans spend on fuel.

“The implications are huge,” Litman told Streetsblog.

If we paid for parking directly instead, Litman projects that Americans would drive about 16 percent less. That equates to about 500 billion fewer miles per year.

Transportation is now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation. Pricing parking, on its own, could make a significant dent in the nation’s carbon pollution, not to mention the terrible loss of life on the roads.

It should be noted that Litman considers this to be a conservative estimate of America’s cumulative parking subsidy, which doesn’t account for the full value of all on-street parking spaces or the environmental degradation caused by parking facilities. Incorporating those costs too would lead to a 20 percent reduction in traffic, he estimates.

Parking is one of the larger hidden subsidies for driving in the U.S., but it’s not the only one. If America priced roads, fuel, insurance, and other components of the vehicular transportation system to account for the full costs of congestion, car crashes, infrastructure wear-and-tear, emissions, and other impacts, Litman projects that traffic would fall about 43 percent.

  • In Denver you have to be wealthier on-average to live in the city than you do to live in the suburbs by approximately double, and the US Census ACS says that wealthy people don’t ride public transit either.

    Here in Metro-Denver housing on the suburban fringe costs half what housing costs in the city, leaving lots of money left over to buy and drive a car with.

  • Andrew

    Where my wife and I live for convenience to multiple non-urban destinations, for multiple destinations in different directions, and because city felony crime rates are 10-20 times as high as they are here, our Walk Score is 9 out of 100. We were promised both two rail mass transit lines and a BRT line within walking distance back in 2004 and unfortunately, after RTD wildly overspent on grandiose train stations and wildly-expensive unnecessary bridges, now they are flat broke for the next 25 years and are cutting staff and deferring maintenance on their aging buses that average 11 years old already.

    This has nothing whatsoever to do with the comment to which it purports to respond. Nice rant, though.

  • Andrew

    Or you can save a nice bundle by not owning a car and use the proceeds to pay for housing in a walkable setting.

  • Andrew

    Oh dear, don’t tell him that you don’t pay for car insurance, or else he’ll call you a freeloader!

  • That condo above has a high walk score and is just a mile from downtown Denver but the asking price of $4.1 million is 5 times what I can afford too.

  • Andrew

    $688? You poor soul!

  • Or you could live in walkable central city Denver and pay five times as much as it costs to live in our suburbs where a car will be required.

    Do rich people ride public transit where you are from Andrew as they almost never do here?

    My Jeep Grand Cherokee ran me $30K brand-new and its operating cost is maybe 40 cents per-mile. So far I have put 44K miles on it in the 5 years since I bought it brand-new.

    Since I was 16 in 1972 I have owned 19 cars and two 18-wheel trucks. Nothing like bulldogging 4-wheelers driving up 2nd Ave on Manhattan.

  • You could buy this condo 3 miles from downtown Denver for only $1.4 million, plus HOA dues of probably another $500/month, double what my house in the suburbs costs, for 1500 LESS square footage, and still drive to your job downtown as well as drive to the airport and to the grocery store or ride Uber too.

    You can walk to Cheeseman Park but not much else without having to walk a mile or more, and between this place and downtown is a high-crime area too. Why would anyone want to live like this when you can live for half as much in the suburbs?

    https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Denver-CO/pmf,pf_pt/condo_type/13329163_zpid/11093_rid/globalrelevanceex_sort/40.114314,-104.365998,39.413385,-105.345154_rect/9_zm/

  • If we are going to die of climate change within 20 years it is already too late to prevent it due to greenhouse gases already emitted. Where does your food supply come from and how is it hauled?

  • kevd

    $0 for me!

  • kevd

    Sounds like Denver needs more dense housing in walkable/transit accessible neighborhoods. Demand is clearly outstripping supply and driving prices through the roof!

  • Down from 411 lbs. I have and had several medical issues that caused me to gain lots of weight and both my one great, great grandfather, who lived in the 1800s and early 1900s, as well as his father, who was a Civil War officer, were both my size too, so it is also hereditary.

    I also have COPD and an asthmatic reaction to certain pollen, molds, and certain industrial chemicals which make doing a lot of walking much more-difficult than for those of us not similarly affected.

  • You would also need a car if the urban area you lived in had virtually no housing with a high walk score that anyone earning less than 6 figures could afford. Not all of us live in high-cost/high-wage/extremely high-density urban areas, in-fact the 80% majority of urban Americans don’t.

    As I said before, just take whatever you earn in NYC and subtract 60-70% from it, which is what the median professional wage is in the vast majority of American urban areas.

    Do you have teens or young adult kids living at-home, who don’t work downtown, and can’t ride public transit or bike to their jobs, like I have?

    Even my wife works 2 out of 5 days weekly in a small city 20 miles north of us where there exists no public transit connection that wouldn’t involve riding 4 buses approx 4 times the straight line distance and would still require driving 5 miles to the closest bus stop or 10 miles to a park & ride facility that would save 1 of the 4 required bus rides too.

    We are not asses out here in heartland America but you must realize that our situation is much different than yours is too.

    For instance, how far would you have to walk to reach any bus route in northwest Detroit within the city limits? Each one of those little roadway boxes on the northwest side is one mile square.

    http://www.chicagorailfan.com/dsm81td.html

    Think that SEMTA has precious little coverage within Detroit’s city limits, with no rail service and only bus routes. check-out these three maps of suburban Detroit. Including Detroit and its suburbs the urban area covers roughly 3000 square miles and has less bus service than Staten Island has. Moreover, the current median household income in Metro-Detroit is only about $50K.

    West and Southwest suburban Metro-Detroit:
    http://www.chicagorailfan.com/dsm81tw.html

    Northeast Metro-Detroit, which is built-up solidly all the way up to at-least 25 Mile Rd to the northeast part of this map, and several more miles from downtown to the northwest part of this map. Again, those little roadway squares are one mile square.

    http://www.chicagorailfan.com/dsm81tm.html

    This is the northwest side of suburban Metro-Detroit. The entire map is built-up suburbs, which go another 10 miles north, northwest, and at-least 6-8 miles west of the map extent too.

    How far do you have to walk to get to a bus in Waterford, MI, which is about 10 miles west of Pontiac, itself 28 miles from downtown Detroit? About 10 miles. How far do you have to walk to get to a bus from While Lake Twp, about 5 miles west of Waterford, which is also heavily built-up? About 15 miles.

    How many bike routes do they have between Waterford and Pontiac? Zero, as they can’t even afford to maintain the roads there.

    What do you do if you live in White Lake Twp like a senior Delta Airlines pilot I grew-up with? You own a car and drive, or you walk or ride the 25 miles each way to work, half the distance without any bicycle infrastructure in traffic density that rivals that of the NYC metropolitan area.

    PS: Your chance of getting robbed on the street averages probably 10 times as high where there is bus service in Metro Detroit as where there isn’t any.

    http://www.chicagorailfan.com/dsm81to.html

    You keep going on living in your own special little version of reality Andrew and I will go on trying to plan for the other 80% of US urban areas where public transit, bike, and pedestrian reality is far different than it is in NYC, most-often marked by a critical lack of mass transit funding and with a high percentage of urban residents stuck driving no matter how much it costs.

  • $688/month for a normal-sized car for parking, which only runs $75-$150/month in our heartland, which is the same place that your income is only 30% on-average of what your income averages in NYC too?

    Oh boy, the Denver Convention Center garage just raised their rates again.

    Parking Rates:

    Park up to 8 Hours: $12.00

    Park up to 12 Hours: $15.00

    Park up to 18 Hours: $17.00

    Park up to 24 Hours: $25.00

    Monthly Parking Rate: $150

    Park 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 30 days. Individual monthly
    permits can be purchased from our pay stations by using a major credit
    card (display a printed paper receipt valid for 30 days). All monthly
    parking occurs on level P2 in the garage. For more information regarding
    monthly parking permits or multiple purchases of monthly parking
    permits for businesses, please call our Parking Offices, 303-228-8070.

    That is pretty high for a heartland urban area.

    http://denverconvention.com/attend-an-event/parking

    Looks like we heartlanders aren’t subsidizing nearly as much cost per-parking space as you NYC residents.

    Here is a good map of what parking runs in downtown Cleveland. The one place where the cost is $50 is valet parking.

    https://en.parkopedia.com/parking/locations/100%20Erieview%20Plaza_dpmuj5fsdf/?arriving=201708160700&leaving=201708160900

  • Andrew

    If there is nowhere affordable to live in your area that allows you to get by without a car (I don’t care about a “walk score” and it doesn’t need to be a mile from downtown), then there are likely serious flaws with the laws in your area, which I suspect are severely constraining the supply of transit-accessible housing units. For example – and to get back to the topic at hand – if the laws mandate parking, even near transit lines, then the laws require even people who don’t own cars to pay for parking that they don’t use, while at the same time significantly reducing density (because parking takes up a of of space), which reduces walkability and reduces the number of housing units that can be situated in short walking distance of a transit stop.

  • Andrew

    Do rich people ride public transit where you are from Andrew

    Of course they do, because even they recognize the impact of limited roadway space and parking. Only about 23% of travelers into the Manhattan CBD enter by auto, taxi, van, or truck, while 75% use some form of transit (subway, railroad, bus, or ferry): https://www.nymtc.org/Portals/0/Pdf/Hub%20Bound/2015%20Hub%20Bound/DM_TDS_Hub_Bound_Travel_report_2015.pdf#page=14

    During the 7-10 AM period, the auto/taxi/van/truck mode share drops to 12%, while the transit mode share jumps to 88%: https://www.nymtc.org/Portals/0/Pdf/Hub%20Bound/2015%20Hub%20Bound/DM_TDS_Hub_Bound_Travel_report_2015.pdf#page=15

    as they almost never do here?

    Of course they don’t. If you guarantee (at great public expense) that every motorist will have plenty of parking wherever he or she wishes to go, if you keep expanding your highways (at great public expense) whenever there’s any hint of congestion, then the only reason anybody might not drive is if they can’t afford the basic price of admission – a personal automobile – to this grand scheme of subsidies.

    Here in New York we don’t make those guarantees, so – despite the heavy subsidies here as well to motorists – plenty of people find that transit is the best way to get around, even if they own, or could easily afford, a car.

  • Andrew, you are flat our wrong. Just admit it.

    My Jeep Grand Cherokee is 4WD and can pull a trailer of up to 6000 lbs.

    It cost $30K brand-new plus gets about 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg highway.

    Right down the street gasoline is $2.15/gallon.

    It costs half as much in Metro-Denver for a low walkscore suburban house than it does for a condo, loft, or single-family house in a high walkscore neighborhood within 3 miles of downtown.

    Grocery prices, restaurant prices, and bar prices average 50% higher to double downtown than they do in our low walkscore suburbs.

    Most single-family homes in our suburbs don’t have HOA costs, while all inner-city condos and lofts do.

    I can park 7-8 vehicles for free on my 10,000 square foot suburban subdivision lot in our 3-car garage or in the driveway off-street, plus street-parking is free on the street too.

    The cost of car insurance in our distant suburbs is half what it is within 3 miles of downtown due to very high auto theft and smash and grab auto burglary rates while the rates for these same crimes are far lower in our suburbs.

    We are closer to Denver International Airport than downtown Denver is by about 75% of the distance. Driving there from our house takes 25-30 minutes 99% of the time on a wife-open suburban freeway while driving to DIA from downtown Denver takes 45 minutes and at-least 20% of the time averages double that too.

    So let’s look at costs. Metro-Denver’s median home price is just under $500K, though the median cost of condos, lofts, and single-family homes within 3 miles of downtown Denver where walk score averages greater than 75 is about $750K plus HOA dues that average $500/month.

    So just on housing central city Denver runs $250K extra plus $500/month for HOA, with your central city HOA completely covering more than 90% of car payments. Then comes double grocery, bar, and restaurant prices which together probably cover the cost of car insurance.

    Public transit here is $4, $6, or $12 depending on how far you want to ride and on whether it is local service or express. Long-term parking at DIA is only $10/day for uncovered and $14/day for covered parking.

    Over the 40 year life of suburban home ownership you will need 6 cars at under 7 years per-car, and 5 cars at 8 years each, so if net value per car is less than $41K (cost less residual value) for 6 cars over 40 years, and less than $50K for 5 cars over 40 years, it is cheaper to live in Denver’s suburbs and own a car than it is to live in a high walk score neighborhood within 3 miles of downtown.

    Not including an average 250% advantage on finding employment here in our suburbs than in the central city depending on transit access too.

  • Andrew

    If you design an area to be easily accessible by car – with low densities and separated uses, with virtually unlimited free parking, with super-wide high-speed roads and highways – it will be very difficult to get around by transit or by foot.

    Conversely, if you design an area to be easily accessible by transit and by foot – with high densities and mixed uses, with very limited free parking, with mostly narrow streets that might not always be wide enough for everybody who might think of driving – it will be very difficult to get around by car.

    I have no doubt whatsoever that the area in which you live is very hard to get around by any means other than a car. This, of course, poses major hardships on anyone who cannot drive, due to age (too young or too old) or physical condition or financial standing – for any trip longer than walking distance (and, due to low densities, there won’t be much of interest in walking distance), they will have to make do with a bare-bones transit system that caters to the indigent. A transit-oriented area, on the other hand, can make provisions for those who, for whatever reason, have difficulty using transit.

    We made the terrible mistake in the mid-20th Century of assuming that everybody prefers the car-only model, and that’s how most of the U.S. was developed. The high cost of housing in transit-oriented areas makes it quite clear that the demand for transit-oriented settings is far higher than we’ve accommodated.

    Ignoring this basic fact and digging in your heels helps no one.

  • Andrew

    $688/month for a normal-sized car for parking, which only runs $75-$150/month in our heartland, which is the same place that your income is only 30% on-average of what your income averages in NYC too?

    You seem to keep missing the point that the vast majority of people who travel to the areas with $688 monthly parking do not do so by car and therefore don’t pay the $688.

    Looks like we heartlanders aren’t subsidizing nearly as much cost per-parking space as you NYC residents.

    I don’t think you understand what the word subsidizing means.

  • Andrew

    Andrew, you are flat our wrong. Just admit it.

    …and then you launch into 14 paragraphs that have nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand.

  • kevd

    Hey, Good work!

  • So how would you prefer me to disagree with your position and prove it beyond any doubt?

    Do remember that 80% of Americans who live in urban areas do not live in NYC or any of the other older East Coast cities with extremely-high pre-Euclidian mixed-use density.

    Every urban area built after 1927 generally has low walk scores because of single-use zoning, and a much greater use of cars is required because most post-Euclidian urban areas have created their growth through sprawl and don’t have lots of money to spend on public transit to serve low-density suburbs that sometimes go on for 50 miles in every direction.

    Your urban situation and ours are completely different. What works in NYC doesn’t work in 80% of US urban areas in-excess of one million population. It is like trying to compare cherries and pumpkins, as they both grow in the ground but otherwise aren’t very alike.

    That is what I dislike about this blog is that everyone from NYC thinks that their way is right and don’t realize that their way doesn’t apply and is wrong for the vast majority of urban America.

    You NYC residents already pay 2.5 times as much for urban freight movement as any smaller urban area that has focused on road transport efficiency and your transit system sucks to put it mildly, in large part because your highways and buses move at a crawl, creating far more ridership than parts of the system are designed for. No wonder your costs are so high.

    I have already proved that the NYC region does not have a sustainable food supply. In-fact all it will take is a major disaster that drops the Mississippi and Ohio River bridges such as another New Madrid earthquake and there won’t be any way to get food to you except by plane. It would require every available landing slot at every NYC regional airport just to supply 25% of your food demand. Every retail store and every restaurant will be out of food within 3-4 days after such an event.

    What is so great about living in a completely unsustainable urban area that exists on the ragged edge of mass starvation every minute of the day? I gave up riding bicycles in 1975 and roadway speed and efficient profitable movement of freight and food supply is important to me. My firm belief is that bicycles don’t belong on major heavy truck routes as the danger is far too great to justify.

    Who has the right of way in this situation: You are riding in a marked bike lane and the 18-wheel truck ahead of you is turning right with its signal on. The cab of the truck is turned 15 degrees or more to the right of the trailer.

    Do you have the right of way to ignore the truck’s turn signal and try to pass it on its right in this situation, something bicycle riders do every day?

    The answer is no, the truck driver has the right of way, because with the tractor turned at 15 degrees or more to the right of the trailer, all the driver can see in the truck’s right side mirrors is the side of the trailer.

    The driver can not possibly see you on your bicycle trying to illegally steal the right of way on the right side of the truck, and bike riders get run right over by the trailer axles or even the drive axles in this situation every single day when they ignore common traffic laws too.

    Here is a darn good example from the NY Daily News last November that occurred in Brooklyn with some bicyclist ignored a critical traffic law:

    http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2826542.1476191294!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_1200/cyclist-critical-hit-truck.jpg

    The NY Daily News claimed that the truck involved in the accident above was a “massive” truck, a claim which is simply untrue, as this is who we haul dirt and gravel around Detroit, and it can carry more than twice as much weight as that little truck in the accident photo above, which is one way to keep your freight costs down.

    http://www.hankstruckpictures.com/pix/trucks/doug_grieve/mar2002/mullens_contracting_ford.jpg

    What does the 85th percentile have to do with whether you live or die trying to ignore who has the legal right of way when a tractor trailer is turning right ahead of you on your bicycle, as the involved speed is generally under 10 mph?

    Imagine this fuel tanker trying to make a city street-corner in Brooklyn? Just to show how tiny trucks in NYC really are.

    http://wallpapers-best.com/uploads/posts/2016-02/21_kenworth.jpg

  • [Quoted from the US Census ACS 2012) Introduction:

    The automobile has played a fundamental role in shaping where we live
    and how we get around. It has influenced the form and density of our
    communities and expanded the geographic range of daily travel.
    Nationally, the private automobile is the predominant form of
    transportation for work and other travel purposes. In 2013, about 86
    percent of all workers commuted to work by private vehicle, either
    driving alone or carpooling. [End quote]

    https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2015/acs/acs-32.html

    In Denver the figure for private auto commuting is about 76%. Here the Census shows that a very low percentage of those earning in-excess of $250K will ride public transport to and from work, under 9% in-fact.

  • The Colorado Supreme Court outlawed rent control Statewide in 2000.

    High Court: No Rent Control, June, 2000, Denver Post:
    http://extras.denverpost.com/news/news0605zz.htm

    Demonstrators call for the repeal of Colorado’s rent control ban, September, 2016, Colorado Independent:

    http://www.coloradoindependent.com/161364/demonstration-rent-control-ban-telluride

    “…..there are likely serious flaws with the laws in your area, which I
    suspect are severely constraining the supply of transit-accessible
    housing units…”

    Here almost all housing near rail mass transit stops is very expensive, with the exception of in high-crime neighborhoods. However, 76% of Denver workers drive private cars to commute, according to a 2013 US Census ACS report shared above, and less than 9% of wealthy Metro-Denver residents (defined by annual income in-excess of $250K) will use public transit to commute.

    So in-effect here in Metro-Denver, a rapidly-growing urban area of 3.5 million people, growing at approximately 3.5% annually, housing (mostly upscale) needs parking near rail mass transit stops as over 91% of rich Denver residents won’t use public transit to commute, and it is illegal to impose rent control anywhere that the market won’t bear it.

    Which leaves about the only affordable housing available in the city in run-down old inner-city industrial parks often contaminated by 150 years worth of wanton industrial pollution, nowhere near rail mass transit or even grocery stores and other retail either, which means that such residents generally need cars too.

  • Andrew

    I’m sorry, what position of mine are you disagreeing with, and how do your 16 (16!) paragraphs make your point?

    As I’ve said, if an area is designed to be easy to drive in, then it – by necessity – will be difficult to get around in by other modes. Certainly, the vast majority of United States residents get around nearly exclusively by car or other personal motor vehicle – not because they’ve made the conscious decision that they prefer one lifestyle over the other, but simply because virtually all developed parts of the country, aside from a small number of old cities, are designed specifically to make driving very easy (and therefore any other way of getting around very hard).

    Deliveries are inefficient here because there are still far too many motorists who drive their personal cars through areas without the space for them. Our transit system, for all its faults, is by far the best in the U.S. – that’s why most of the nation’s ridership is in New York, and that’s why more than half of the regions commutes are by transit. Most of the ridership is on the subway system, which is completely unaffected by roadway congestion.

    You still don’t know what the word sustainable means.

    Your comprehension of driving laws is plainly backwards. Motorists making turns are required by law to yield to traffic continuing straight. A cyclist proceeding straight is not stealing anything, and any driver who cuts off such a cyclist has broken the law, regardless of whatever excuses he or she may come up with, and regardless of whether the NYPD accepts those excuses (or even comes up with preemptive excuses of their own).

    Truck lengths in New York City are restricted by law. That a particular truck is smaller than a truck you’ve seen in Michigan or than a commercial airliner (!) does not render it legal to operate in New York City streets.

  • Andrew

    Congratulations, but this has nothing to do with the comment upthread.

    You asked whether rich people ride transit in my city. I answered that they do, and I explained why they don’t in yours. Do you disagree with anything I wrote in that response?

  • Andrew

    I wrote one paragraph. A fairly long paragraph, but still one paragraph. Could you please have the courtesy to read it, comprehend it, think about it before you launch into another one of your multi-paragraph rants that has nothing to do with the topic at hand? Thanks.

  • If you ride bicycles and you operate under this philosophy: [Quote] Your comprehension of driving laws is plainly backwards. Motorists
    making turns are required by law to yield to traffic continuing
    straight. A cyclist proceeding straight is not stealing anything, and
    any driver who cuts off such a cyclist has broken the law, regardless of
    whatever excuses he or she may come up with, and regardless of whether
    the NYPD accepts those excuses (or even comes up with preemptive excuses
    of their own). [End quote]

    You are sooner or later going to end up dead, crushed by a tractor-trailer or a city bus turning right, whose driver very simply can not see you for 2/3rds of the length of the vehicle on its right side. You can not assume that you have the right of way if the truck or bus driver can’t see you.

    Because certain idiot older cities such as NYC have refused to widen their intersection radii since the 1950s as trucks have grown by 35% in length, the only way a large tractor-trailer can make a turn is to swing out to the left and then back to the right, during which time, all rearward vision on the right side of the truck will be blocked.

    What is so hard to understand about that?

    If you bicyclists want to be seen when trucks and buses are turning right why not try passing on the left of the turning vehicle (which is the only place you can be seen by the driver) rather than on the right, where you can’t be seen by the driver?

    Because of the operational requirements of large trucks and city buses, especially articulated city buses, the placement of bicycle lanes on the right side of roadways in non right-hand drive countries is a fatally-flawed design.

    Are you aware that in London, England their law asks that bicycle riders stay back behind large trucks and buses at intersections rather than pulling forward into the large blind spots those vehicles have?

    At the rear side of a full-size tractor trailer truck the field of vision of the flat mirror is 6-7 feet wide. From there that field of vision declines at an angle until up near the back drive axle, where it completely ends, only when the tractor is straight to the trailer. If the tractor is more than 15 degrees to the right of the trailer turning right all the driver can see in the right side mirrors is the side of the trailer. They simply can’t see you on your bike.

    While there is a convex mirror, its field of vision rapidly distorts at distance, leaving a huge blind area where no truck driver can see a bicyclist on the right side of the truck. Remember that the driver is sitting 8 feet away from the right side mirrors so they can’t see nearly as much in those mirrors as on the driver’s side of the truck, where they are 3 feet or less from the mirrors.

    What about law that forces overtaking vehicles to yield right of way to turning vehicles when they signal their turn intentions at-least the legal minimum distance before turning? You bicyclists don’t believe in that law?

    What about other laws that demand that turns and stops be signaled? How many bike riders never signal their turn intentions? Do bikes have brake lights as all other vehicles are required to have, as if not, following driver reaction time is markedly increased? You do know that a loaded tractor-trailer rig takes 4-5 times the distance to stop from 25 mph as a bicycle does, right?

    Here is a medium-quality safety video that was produced by the British Safety Council I think that you should watch Andrew I would like to redo it using a left-hand drive truck in the US. The video was done inside a large warehouse to simulate night driving. Go ahead and watch it at its full-screen size.

    Do remember that in England their vehicles are right-hand drive and they drive on the left side of the road, with the same fatally-flawed design that puts bike lanes in the trucker’s large opposite side blind spot.

    The video starts with a look in the truck’s blind side mirrors from the driver’s seat, with the tractor turned maybe 15 degrees to the trailer, turning left, which in England is the same dangerous turn as a right turn in the US.

    Just see what you can see here Andrew:

    I am also of the opinion that anyone who wants to be an urban bicycle
    rider should be forced to sit in the cab of an 18-wheel truck just to
    see what little truckers can actually see in their blind side mirrors, as that might help effect change in urban bicycle infrastructure design to help increase safety.

    Trucks operating on Manhattan Island are restricted to 65 feet maximum length and 48-foot trailer maximum length, whereas in the entire balance of the US save for off permitted routes in Connecticut, 53-foot trailers are legal and have been since 1986.

    New York State allows turnpike doubles (two 48-foot trailers behind a tractor) on the NY Thruway west of Schenectady, just like the set in this photo:

    https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7334/27305916336_9c5b9f7bc9_b.jpg

  • [Quote] If there is nowhere affordable to live in your area that allows you to
    get by without a car (I don’t care about a “walk score” and it doesn’t
    need to be a mile from downtown), then there are likely serious flaws
    with the laws in your area, which I suspect are severely constraining
    the supply of transit-accessible housing units. [End quote]

    The Colorado Supreme Court outlawed rent control Statewide in 2000.

    “High Court: No Rent Control”, June, 2000, Denver Post:

    http://extras.denverpost.com/news/news0605zz.htm

    “Demonstrators call for the repeal of Colorado’s rent control ban”, September, 2016, Colorado Independent:

    http://www.coloradoindependent.com/161364/demonstration-rent-control-ban-telluride

    Here there is no such thing as rent control, hence no ability to place low-income housing near mass transit stops.

    Here as a result of the legal decision to outlaw rent control, made by our State’s highest court, all land within walking distance of mass transit stops is very expensive.

    Hence there is no walkable low-income housing near mass-transit stops, (with the exception of two mass transit stops that were built near two much older public housing projects built in the late 1930s, the 10th and Osage stop, walking distance to the South Lincoln Park Homes project, and the Federal Blvd and 12th Ave stop near the Sun Valley project).

    [Quote] For example – and to get
    back to the topic at hand – if the laws mandate parking, even near
    transit lines, then the laws require even people who don’t own cars to
    pay for parking that they don’t use, while at the same time
    significantly reducing density (because parking takes up a of of space),
    which reduces walkability and reduces the number of housing units that
    can be situated in short walking distance of a transit stop. [End quote]

    Because the US Census ACS has revealed that wealthy Americans don’t ride
    public transit (except in NYC and a very few other very high-cost
    cities), and because we don’t have any legal ability to control rents
    here, (with limited Federal public housing exceptions), the only housing near mass transit stops in urban Metro-Denver is increasingly expensive, either existing single-family that has seen big price increases since nearby mass transit stops opened, or new upscale TOD mixed-use, that tends to surround numerous large free park & ride locations, (because here our planning leadership still operates under the assumption that mass transit can get cars off our highways, and/or reduce demand for parking downtown).

    In-fact here we have seen a fair amount of scraping existing single-family homes and lower-rent commercial/retail property near new mass transit stations and replacing it with upscale TOD multifamily mixed-use development where upscale residents demand parking. We can’t even demand that a certain percentage of new development serve low-income housing needs as that is prohibited rent control.

    Do you refuse to own a car by choice or because you don’t earn enough income to own a car? If the reason is by choice and not for lack of income I don’t see any reason to sympathize, after all, it is your choice to contribute to the problem.

  • Andrew

    If you ride bicycles and you operate under this philosophy:

    I don’t ride bicycles.

    [Quote] Your comprehension of driving laws is plainly backwards. Motorists making turns are required by law to yield to traffic continuing straight. [End quote]

    That’s the law, not a “philosophy.”

    You are sooner or later going to end up dead, crushed by a tractor-trailer or a city bus turning right, whose driver very simply can not see you for 2/3rds of the length of the vehicle on its right side. You can not assume that you have the right of way if the truck or bus driver can’t see you.

    Obviously, one cannot assume that a truck or bus driver sees what he or she can’t be bothered to even look for. But that in no way exempts the driver from the law.

    Here’s the law in my city that applies at green lights: “Vehicular traffic facing such signals may proceed straight through or turn right or left unless a sign at such place prohibits any such movement. But vehicular traffic, including vehicles turning right or left, shall yield the right of way to other vehicles and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk at the time such signal is exhibited.” The onus is on the driver making the turn to yield to the cyclist or pedestrian proceeding straight. If you have not established that your turn doesn’t conflict with a cyclist’s or pedestrian’s through movement, and you go ahead and make the turn anyway, then you haven’t yielded.

    Slow down and watch where you’re going.

    The law says that overtaking traffic is required to yield to vehicles ahead that are turning after legally signaling.

    That is most certainly not the law where I live. I’m not aware of that law anywhere I don’t live, either.

    Federal Uniform Vehicle Code governs what traffic laws interstate freight shipment drivers are bound by regardless of whether local laws disagree.

    Um, no, “interstate freight shipment drivers” are not exempt from local laws.

    You might want to read up on what the Uniform Vehicle Code is, because it isn’t what you make it out to be here.

    Nor does it even state what you claim it states!

    You can not ignore a truck’s turn signal and pass on the side the turn signal is flashing on,

    A turn signal does not exempt a driver from yielding.

    especially if the driver can’t see you in their mirror.

    If the driver needs to slow down and look more carefully, then the driver should slow down and look more carefully.

    Because certain idiot older cities such as NYC have refused to widen their intersection radii since the 1950s, as trucks have grown by 40% in length since then, the only way a large tractor-trailer can make a turn is to swing out to the left and then back to the right, pulling the trailer leftward away from the curb, during which time, all rearward vision on the right side of the truck will be blocked.

    Ah, yes, how stupid of NYC to not tear down all of its corner buildings so that motor vehicles could whip around corners even faster, leaving pedestrians to dodge high-speed turning traffic while traversing even longer crossing distances than they have today.

    What is so hard to understand about that?

    Nothing at all! It’s plainly clear that you believe that my city should be laid out for drivers first and foremost and that drivers should ignore whichever laws they find inconvenient.

    If you bicyclists want to be seen when trucks and buses are turning right why not try passing on the left of the turning vehicle (which is the only place you can be seen by the driver) rather than on the right, where you can’t be seen by the driver?

    (I am not a bicyclist. Strange assumption you’re making.)

    On two-way streets, the law generally requires cyclists to remain on the right. If the cyclist is not aware that a motorist is about to turn – perhaps the motorist didn’t turn on his signal until the last minute or was too lazy to signal at all – then why would he shift his position to the right?

    If you’re making a turn, the law in my city requires you to yield to cyclists and pedestrians. Period. If for whatever reason you cannot see whether there is a cyclist or pedestrian to whom you are required to yield, then don’t drive in my city, since (by your own admission) you cannot do so safely.

    A driver who has just passed a cyclist before making a right turn should be plainly aware that there’s a cyclist to his right. There isn’t even a question of visibility here.

    Because of the operational requirements of large trucks and city buses, especially articulated city buses, the placement of bicycle lanes on the right side of roadways in non right-hand drive countries is a fatally-flawed design. (In right-hand drive countries the placement of bicycle lanes on the left side of roadways is also a fatally-flawed design for the same reason).

    Bike lanes are typically placed near the curb. On a two-way street in the U.S., that would be on the right. On a one-way street, it could be on either side (and New York City often places its bike lanes on one-way streets on the left, so as not to conflict with bus stops, which are always on the right).

    Where would you propose that the bike lane go on a two-way street? In the center?

    Are you aware that in London, England their law asks that bicycle riders stay back behind large trucks and buses at intersections rather than pulling forward into the large blind spots those vehicles have?

    Laws don’t “ask.” They require.

    Please provide a citation.

    In any event, the laws of London, England do not apply in the United States, so you’ll have to pardon me if I refer to the laws in my own place of residence to help me determine what applies to me.

    At the rear side of a full-size tractor trailer truck the field of vision of the flat mirror is 6-7 feet wide. From there that field of vision declines at an angle until up near the back drive axle, where it completely ends, only when the tractor is straight to the trailer. If the tractor is more than 15 degrees to the right of the trailer turning right all the driver can see in the right side mirrors is the side of the trailer. They simply can’t see you on your bike.

    Sounds like the sort of vehicle that cannot safely coexist with cyclists and pedestrians, and therefore the sort of vehicle that should be illegal to operate in settings with cyclists and pedestrians.

    While there is a convex mirror, its field of vision rapidly distorts at distance, leaving a huge blind area where no truck driver can see a bicyclist on the right side of the truck. Remember that the driver is sitting 8 feet away from the right side mirrors so they can’t see nearly as much in those mirrors as on the driver’s side of the truck, where they are 3 feet or less from the mirrors.

    Boo hoo.

    Here is a medium-quality safety video that was produced by the British Safety Council I think that you should watch Andrew. I would like to redo it using a left-hand drive truck in the US. The video was done inside a large warehouse to simulate night driving. Go ahead and watch it at its full-screen size.

    Great video! it illustrates the degree of caution that truck drivers need to undertake in order to comply with the law.

    It also illustrates why so many cyclists and pedestrians find it far safer to proceed across red lights once they’ve determined that no cross traffic is approaching than to wait for the light and do everything according to the law.

    I am also of the opinion that anyone who wants to be an urban bicycle rider should be forced to sit in the cab of an 18-wheel truck just to see what little truckers can actually see in their blind side mirrors, as that might help effect change in urban bicycle infrastructure design to help increase safety.

    And I’d suggest that anyone who wants to drive a motor vehicle in an urban setting be required to first spend a week or two as a pedestrian or cyclist. How about it, Mark? Come to New York and walk around for a while. See how it feels to have traffic blow past you well above the speed limit. See how it feels for motorist after motorist to whip across the crosswalk where the pedestrian signal is in your favor for just a few seconds – that is, if the crosswalk isn’t simply blocked by motor vehicles, parked or stuck in traffic. See how it feels to wait for the light and then to start crossing, only to encounter those lovely motorists who believe that “red” means “just one or two more cars.” See how it feels when cars and trucks simply roll past a stop sign where you’re trying to cross – or, even worse, when they step on the gas while you’re standing directly in front of them. See how it feels when you find your sidewalk completely obstructed by illegally parked motor vehicles.

    That’s my life, Mark, in the most pedestrian-oriented city in North America. So you’ll have to forgive me for not feeling sorry for the poor suffering motorists who threaten my life every signal day.

    Trucks operating on Manhattan Island are restricted to 65 feet maximum length and 48-foot trailer maximum length, whereas in the entire balance of the US save for off permitted routes in Connecticut, 53-foot trailers are legal and have been since 1986.

    You, once again, don’t know what you’re talking about. The rules for trucks in New York City (not just Manhattan) are detailed here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/sizewt.shtml

    New York State allows turnpike doubles (two 48-foot trailers behind a tractor) on the NY Thruway west of Schenectady, just like the set in this photo:

    Good for the Thruway. What bearing does that have on city streets?

  • Andrew

    The Colorado Supreme Court outlawed rent control Statewide in 2000.

    Irrelevant. I’m not proposing rent control.

    Here there is no such thing as rent control, hence no ability to place low-income housing near mass transit stops.

    I’m not asking for low-income housing to be placed near mass transit stops.

    Here as a result of the legal decision to outlaw rent control, made by our State’s highest court, all land within walking distance of mass transit stops is very expensive.

    No, what makes land within walking distance of mass transit stops very expensive is high desirability in conjunction with limited demand. Because people want to live near transit, but there’s only a finite number of housing units near transit.

    How do you address that problem? You upzone near transit stops, and you eliminate whatever parking requirements may exist near transit stops, and you increase the number of high-quality transit routes. In other words, you increase the supply of housing in walking distance of transit.

    Hence there is no walkable low-income housing near mass-transit stops, (with the exception of two mass transit stops that were built near two much older public housing projects built in the late 1930s, the 10th and Osage stop, walking distance to the South Lincoln Park Homes project, and the Federal Blvd and 12th Ave stop near the Sun Valley project).

    I never asked for “low-income housing” specifically. I’d simply like the market to be allowed to respond to the shortage of housing near transit.

    Because the US Census ACS has revealed that wealthy Americans don’t ride public transit (except in NYC and a very few other very high-cost cities), and because we don’t have any legal ability to control rents here, (with limited Federal public housing exceptions), the only housing near mass transit stops in urban Metro-Denver is increasingly expensive, either existing single-family that has seen big price increases since nearby mass transit stops opened, or new upscale TOD mixed-use, that tends to surround numerous large free park & ride locations, (because here our planning leadership still operates under the assumption that mass transit can get cars off our highways, and/or reduce demand for parking downtown).

    Sigh. As I already explained, if you design under the assumption that everybody’s going to drive – by insisting on vast parking facilities and wide highways – then everybody’s going to drive, aside from those who absolutely have no other choice.

    In-fact here we have seen a fair amount of scraping existing single-family homes and lower-rent commercial/retail property near new mass transit stations and replacing it with upscale TOD multifamily mixed-use development where upscale residents demand parking. We can’t even demand that a certain percentage of new development serve low-income housing needs as that is prohibited rent control.

    Irrelevant, once again. I’m not asking for low-income housing specifically, and I’m not sure what gives you the idea that I am.

    Do you refuse to own a car by choice or because you don’t earn enough income to own a car? If the reason is by choice and not for lack of income I don’t see any reason to sympathize, after all, it is your choice to live anywhere you can afford which includes the ability to own a car and park it. If you refuse to own a car by choice why moan about a problem that your choice created? .

    Wow, this is truly impressive. What problem do you believe I created by not owning a car? What problem do you think would be solved if the 56% of households in New York City that don’t currently own cars went out and each bought a car? What problem do you think would be solved if the 72% of travelers into the Manhattan CBD who use transit (nearly 3 million people) instead owned and used personal automobiles?

    Now if you can rent or buy housing that does not have a parking requirement then perhaps it should be somewhat less-expensive than comparable surrounding properties that do supply parking.

    Well, yes, thank you for that obvious point. So how about splitting housing and parking, so that people who only need one of the two can only pay for what they need?

    Keep in mind that it is unusual in many US urban areas for large apartment and condo complexes to charge separately for parking as is the case in the metropolitan NYC area.

    Yes, it is – often because the law requires that apartments come with parking.

  • Parque_Hundido

    People who want a bathroom, a bedroom or a kitchen would pay for an apartment. Bathrooms, sleeping spaces and kitchens are definitional to “apartment”. Parking is not.

    What’s your point?

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