Why downtown parking garages may be headed for extinction


For decades, providing downtown parking was a top priority for urban planners. Huge parking garages for commuters’ cars occupied prime real estate that otherwise might have been used for housing, stores, or offices.

 But ride-hailing services and autonomous cars are going to revolutionize parking in cities across the country — in garages, in lots and along curbs. By 2030, 15 percent of new cars sold will be totally autonomous, according to one estimate. One in 10 will be shared. And as it becomes easier for people to summon shared or autonomous cars when they need them, fewer people will want to own their own vehicle, meaning fewer cars overall.

The bottom line: We’re going to need much less space to store cars. Some cities are gearing up to take advantage of the shift.

In addition, curbside parking will be redesigned. The National Association of City Transportation Officials suggests in a recent study that reuses could include bike parking, small green spaces, called “parklets,” for pedestrians to enjoy, and pickup and drop-off areas for driverless vehicles and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

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