SALT LAKE CITY (KTVX/WPRI) — Nearly one-quarter of downtown Providence is dedicated solely to car parking, according to data released by a nonprofit last week. And the city is far from alone. In Hartford, Connecticut, it’s 22%. In Worcester, Massachusetts, it’s 35%. Farther west in San Bernardino, California, it’s even worse: 49% of the central city is composed of parking.
The data comes from the Parking Reform Network, an organization that works to inform people about the impact of parking on climate change, housing, traffic and more. The group has published 86 maps of cities across the United States, highlighting the space dedicated to parking lots in city centers.
On average, in U.S. cities with over 1 million people, 22% of land in the city center is used for parking. (The Parking Reform Network defines Providence’s “city center” as the downtown area extended south to Route 190 and excluding west of the Providence River.)
Take a look at Salt Lake City, for example. About 29% of downtown is highlighted red, which represents an area that is a designated parking lot. The city even has a few parking structures that span entire blocks.
Many of the maps created by Parking Reform Network look similar, from Colorado Springs to Jacksonville, Florida.
Parking Reform Network argues that space could be better used for housing, businesses, or public gathering spaces.
“This parking is often clustered around main streets, office districts, and historical cores, creating a dead zone around the city’s most valuable and walkable areas that limits residential and commercial growth. Cities with high parking have ample land that could be devoted to building walkable neighborhoods, vibrant parks, or office districts,” the group writes.
Compare the map of Salt Lake City to New York’s core (where only 1% of space is dedicated to parking lots), or Boston, where 6% is parking.
Of the cities analyzed, those who had the most space dedicated to parking were San Bernardino, California (49%); Arlington, Texas (42%); Lexington, Kentucky (38%); Wichita, Kansas (35%); and Virginia Beach (35%).
New York City (1%), Washington DC (3%), Chicago (4%), San Francisco (4%) and Boston (6%) were found to be the top five city centers with the least amount of dedicated parking spaces.
Compare Parking Reform Network’s maps of all 86 cities below, or open the maps in a new tab here:
Because their analysis focuses on how land is being used, Parking Reform Network did not include underground parking garages from their calculations.