The high cost of free parking

by Donald C. Shoup

Hardcover, 2005

Call number



Chicago ; Washington, D.C. : Planners Press : American Planning Association, c2005.


One of the American Planning Association's most popular and influential books is finally in paperback, with a new preface from the author on how thinking about parking has changed since this book was first published. In this no-holds-barred treatise, Donald Shoup argues that free parking has contributed to auto dependence, rapid urban sprawl, extravagant energy use, and a host of other problems. Planners mandate free parking to alleviate congestion but end up distorting transportation choices, debasing urban design, damaging the economy, and degrading the environment. Ubiquitous free parking helps explain why our cities sprawl on a scale fit more for cars than for people, and why American motor vehicles now consume one-eighth of the world's total oil production. But it doesn't have to be this way. Shoup proposes new ways for cities to regulate parking - namely, charge fair market prices for curb parking, use the resulting revenue to pay for services in the neighborhoods that generate it, and remove zoning requirements for off-street parking. Such measures, according to the Yale-trained economist and UCLA planning professor, will make parking easier and driving less necessary. Join the swelling ranks of Shoupistas by picking up this book today. You'll never look at a parking spot the same way again.… (more)

Media reviews

The consequences of this curious situation—parking, parking, everywhere, but not a spot for me—have been disastrous for American cities. More parking encourages more driving, by incentivizing car ownership, pushing locations farther apart, and impairing the creation of safe, efficient
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infrastructure for transit, bikes, and pedestrians. So, adding parking supply doesn’t necessarily make it easier to park, especially when that parking remains free, divided between uses, and hard to find. Until you build so much parking that there’s no longer anything worth driving to. Focusing on demand for parking, on the other hand, can help resolve this conundrum. That has been one of the central insights of Donald Shoup, the parking scholar whose 2005 book The High Cost of Free Parking put a spotlight on America’s tragic obsession with parking supply. About a third of downtown traffic consists of drivers looking for parking. By pricing the curb correctly, Shoup argued, you could make that traffic vanish overnight. In the long term, you could avoid the cost of creating more parking and use the extra money to encourage people to carpool, use transit, or ride a bike. When San Francisco adopted Shoup’s pricing suggestions a few years ago, some streets did get more expensive—but other places to park, including the city’s public garages, got cheaper.
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Original publication date


Physical description

xviii, 734 p.; 26 cm


1884829988 / 9781884829987




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