Tuesday 28 July 2020

Shoup ba doup

It's a true but little-known fact that Salt-N-Pepa's classic song was actually an ode to Donald Shoup. 

Okay, maybe not. But it should have been. 

The National Policy Statement on urban planning bans larger cities from having minimum parking restrictions. The Shoupistas have conquered New Zealand. 

It is excellent news; congratulations in particular to Julie Anne Genter. 

A snippet:
But the more substantial cost of on-street parking, if council does not meter the spaces, is the congestion caused as people drive around looking for free parking. As Seinfeld’s George Costanza put it almost thirty years ago, “Why should I pay, when if I apply myself, maybe I could get it for free?”

That hunt for free parking imposes real costs. Economist Donald Shoup, who has spent the bulk of his long career tracing out the economics of urban parking, found that between 8 and 74 per cent of traffic in congested cities was caused by cruising for parking.

In New York, in the early 1990s, drivers spent between eight and 14 minutes, on average, cruising for parking.

If on-street parking is priced properly, there is no need to cruise for parking. High prices for on-street parking during peak times in popular places encourage people to only park in those places when it is really important, and encourage other people to build parking garages that charge for car storage.

But there is also a worse political economy effect of unpriced on-street parking. When on-street parking has no monetary cost for drivers in places where people want to be, there will always be shortages. Shortages lead councils to force other people to build more parking.
Fun bit: I wanted to cite the excellent George Costanza line about how nobody in his family ever paid for parking - if you applied yourself, you could get it for free. So I dug it up from the online Seinfeld scripts and used it in the column.

Then I wanted to get Shoup's numbers from his classic paper so went and dug that up - to find that he'd opened with the Costanza line as epigraph. 


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