Hundreds of cities around the world are celebrating Park(ing) Day. Since 2005, Park(ing) Day has encouraged urban dwellers to temporarily transform parking spaces for a public purpose — parks, games, theatres, and more. This year Uber is proud to be participating in this effort to reimagine our cities.
The average car spends 95% of its life parked. In many cities, a third of all land is now dedicated to parking. In fact, there are so many parking spaces in the United States we can’t even count them all — experts estimate there may be as many as 2 billion. And it’s no surprise Park(ing) Day got its start in Uber’s hometown of San Francisco. Writer Michael Lewis once joked that Bay Area residents spend so much time looking for parking that it “counts as a hobby.”
But parking has become an enormous problem for cities across the country. It’s ugly, it’s expensive to build, and it takes up valuable space. Up to a third of traffic in city centers is caused by drivers circling to find parking. Even people who don’t own cars pay a high price — rents go up to accommodate the cost of building parking. Ultimately, there’s no such thing as free parking.
“Park(ing) day asks people to rethink the status quo and imagine what might be possible in the future. New technology has made sharing cars, rides, bikes and multimodal trips hassle free. Self driving vehicles will accelerate these trends. Now is the time for true PPPs – public + private + people collaborations – to make sure that we get the liveable, sustainable, and just future we want. I’m excited for Uber to be participating in this three way dialogue.” - Robin Chase, Founder of Zipcar and Author of Peers, Inc.
For decades, cities have tried to fix parking policy — and many have made progress. At Uber they’re committed to tackling the underlying cause by creating an alternative to personal car ownership. Innovations like UberPOOL are helping to make mass carpooling a reality. By getting more people in fewer cars, POOL is helping to reduce congestion in some of the world’s biggest cities. Every empty seat we can fill means one less car on the road.
Uber is also investing in self-driving technology, which will accelerate these trends by making it cheaper and easier to hail a ride than drive yourself. Studies by the OECD found that shared autonomous vehicles could reduce the number of cars on the road by 90% or more. And as car ownership declines, so will the need for parking space.
Just imagine if a city could reclaim a third of its land, as well as all the money it has to spend on lots and meters and garages. Imagine the new homes and apartments that could take their place. Imagine all the new schools and playgrounds and parks and bike paths.
Park(ing) Day is all about preparing us to make that dream a reality. We have an enormous opportunity to make our cities more liveable, vibrant, and affordable. Uber is excited to join with people across the planet to envision a world without parking.
Also published on Medium.