Five for Friday: Park + Read

Welcome to our weekly roundup of news you can use! We talk a lot about driving around here, so what about the inevitable yang to its yin? Yes my friends, this week it's all about what the cars do when we're not around to drive them -- parking.

1. As someone who used to live in the dense residential space of Northeast Minneapolis, I can attest to the fact that parking is hard to come by. WIRED has a great piece this week digging into just how tough it can really be, from killing development projects because the cost of providing adequate parking to accompany them (up to %60k/space in some instances) is too high, to stymieing affordable housing or public space renovations, to just being an eyesore that's only used part of any given day. A lot of cities are already thinking about decreasing parking spaces and increasing attention to public transit availability, sidewalks, and green spaces but more is needed. The White House handily published a toolkit this week that's linked in the article (and here) for bonus reading that shows how we can achieve some pretty great things by re-thinking design.

2. Sticking with WIRED for a moment is a very cool piece about the future of architecture when it comes to urban commercial and residential spaces. It's definitely future-looking at the moment, but it's neat to think about how we can retrofit old, unneeded parking garages to become multi-use buildings, and/or build in such a way that edifices can be adapted as the needs and desires of a society change (say, if we all figure out how to use public/shared vehicles to get where we need to go).

3. Tackling the issue of city parking on a practical level is Memphis. The Memphis Daily News reports that a collective approach is taking place to re-think the 'car-centric' attitude currently reflected in the city's infrastructure and how Memphis could be revitalized by making some changes to both mindsets and amenities. What I like in this article in particular is some very practical ideas for employers when it comes to incentivizing and supporting employees to use public transit. For example, subsidizing some or all of an employee's public transportation costs and providing a program that guarantees a free ride home during the workday (a taxi, Uber, or a shared vehicle, e.g.) in the case of an emergency that would make it difficult to wait for a bus or train.

4. I don't know about you, but one of the factors that currently holds me back from considering an electric vehicle is the thought of accessible charging. I don't drive a lot during the day usually, so getting back home to park my car and charge wouldn't be an issue. However, there are times I drive hundreds of miles in a single day and I would be nervous about the ability to charge my vehicle, either at a charging station or a parking garage that has such amenities. Solving my chicken-and-egg-come-to-life-anecdote is the Obama Administration which announced this week that 55 U.S. interstates will become "alternative fuel corridors". Once fully built, you can expect to see new or existing charging stations every 50 miles.

5. Let's wrap up by deviating from parking ever so slightly to idling. A fun read that will probably end up in someone's Law Enforcement 101 textbook some day comes from NBC Los Angeles where an Uber driver put its car in park in a red zone to collect a passenger and somehow incurred a parking ticket in the minutes it waited (all without ever seeing or interacting with an officer). You have to read it to really enjoy it (the driver's sustained bewilderment throughout the interview is the best part), but it just goes to show that old policies and new technology don't always mix well.

Leili Fatehi and Laura Monn Ginsburg presenting Drive Toghether MPLS at wake-up with Jacob Frey

As a quick post-script to today's post, I wanted to follow up on last week's debut of Drive Together Minneapolis (web | Twitter). We've been very busy meeting, greeting, and talking about the project and we'd love to have you get in on the fun. There's a mailing list on the website and our Twitter is managed by Leili so you know it's full of great information and commentary.

Last but not least, a big thanks to Council Member Jacob Frey and team for putting on a fantastic Wake-Up With Jacob on Wednesday where we talked self-driving cars, shared cars, electric cars, and how it can all be possible in the city of Minneapolis. We were energized by the caliber of conversation and look forward to much more!

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