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To stop building heat islands, stop overbuilding parking lots (sightline.org)
180 points by jseliger 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 269 comments



This article was better than I expected, since I misinterpreted the title as if it meant building over car-parks (i.e. putting buildings over them with the parking underneath), which is a good idea!

The amount of surface parking in the US does always astound me when I see photos and videos of US cities... The country I live in isn't especially short on space (Australia) but land is expensive in cities so car parks are usually either pretty small, or they're multi-story or under the building (either ground floor parking with the building above, or underground parking under the building). Just seems like such a waste of space to have these massive surface car-parks. Doing it like it's done in Australia has the advantage of things being a bit closer together, which is better for walking between properties or just walking/cycling in general.

But the interesting thing is that surface parking seems like it used to be a lot more common here from what I remember from my childhood, and development and zoning laws seem to have encouraged what were car parks to be re-developed into much more space efficient use. So it is possible - kind of like The Netherlands and cycling - I wish my city and cities in my country were more like that, but they're better now than Amsterdam was in the 1970s, and slowly going in the right direction. The change is possible.


There's a new Bunnings near me where the entire building footprint (including outdoor, etc) is above the ground-level carpark. Once in the building or garden centre, there's every impression you're at ground level because the experience is like every other Bunnings, but without exposure to the elements. Then there are solar panels on the roof.

The total footprint as a result is far, far smaller than other large Bunnings buildings in the state.


Normal Bunnings locations have a drive-thru area for people picking up bulk or oversized goods, and there would have to be a cargo dock to actually get stuff into the store - how is this handled at your location?

They still offer trade services and courtesy trailers at Edwardstown. In fact, they seem to have far more services listed than a large store like Mile End:

https://www.bunnings.com.au/stores/sa/edwardstown https://www.bunnings.com.au/stores/sa/mile-end

There's a large timber 'yard', but I haven't looked to see how it works. Seems like there's a ramp up: https://bit.ly/31XKTBb

Might be an oversized lift/elevator too.

Otherwise, larger trade enquiries could be pushed off to a different store. Another store like Kent Town has a fairly small footprint but external parking, so I assume that sort of thing would be phased out.


The MTR Corporation builds apartments over railway dépôts; admittedly, this may only be an economy in Hong Kong. There are some quite striking pictures here: https://www.checkerboardhill.com/2015/01/railway-depots-hong....


Having a metro-station in the basement, or next to it seems useful :-)

Something similar in Berlin, Germany over the 'Autobahn' https://duckduckgo.com/?q=berlin+schlangenbader+straße


They could put solar panels on the parking lots and mine crypto, it pays for itself, would be pretty schmick /s


I don't understand why cities mandate so much surface parking. It makes the city worse for everyone, including drivers. Why not have the parking under buildings? Sure it's a bit more expensive to build, but saves so much space! And the cars don't sit out in the sun while you shop. Maybe it would be best if there were no parking mandates at all and cities let the market figure out the right amount of parking space.


Sometimes, the soil is loose, making it impossible to dig deep to build underground parkings (or subways, for that matter) because it would make buildings sink. I don't know how common it is, but my city is like this. The area being liable to flooding because of a dam nearby probably doesn't help.

I believe pushing public transports and bikeways from "quite good" to "top notch, really convenient" and free (paid by taxes) would make a long way for all these issues (possibly mandating for cars to say out of the city for most use cases; it would make many situations more difficult to handle though).

(European perspective)


> Sometimes, the soil is loose, making it impossible to dig deep to build underground parkings (or subways, for that matter)

Not impossible. Amsterdam is built on peat, but has plenty of underground parkings and a subway. Google gave me https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Pijp_metro_station, which says “The lower level platform with southbound services to Zuid is 26.5 meters below street level”. That puts it way below sea level.

That tunnel was bored, but parking garages (and home cellars) get dug out (typically, before digging starts, walls to prevent cave-ins are pushed into the ground and water pumps are started)


Mind you that despite all best efforts and experts involved this project went trice over its head. I am very happy with the end result though


I don’t think that’s unique for construction of tunnels in loose ground.

Such projects typically go over budget because one offs are hard to cost estimate, and politically, you can’t sell a project that will cost, say “between $X and 5 × $X billion”. Saying “X billion” is a way easier sell a project.


Soil mechanics have nothing to do with actual permits. There are way around that. And it's up to the investor to decide if it is worth it or not.

What matters more for permits themselves, is the capacity of the nearby road network. Bigger parking lots, multilevel ones => more cars => congested network => traffic jams everywhere.

(European perspective with civil engineering experience)


You don't have to go underground. A shopping center in my city has a multistory car park as a part of the building on the side [1]. A multitenant building in Copenhagen I've seen also had it similar, but for first two floors [2] - I love the building.

[1] https://goo.gl/maps/g68PHEdxEJL1ApxFA

[2] https://www.boligsiden.dk/adresse/galionsvej-7-3-3-1437-koeb...


>A shopping center in my city has a multistory car park as a part of the building on the side

That seems like a pretty typical example of what you'd see as parking for a US suburb that was initially build as sprawl in the 50s but has had to begin becoming dense because economics (like around DC or Miami or the outer suburbs of Boston)


> free (paid by taxes)

Free != paid by taxes

I also think tax funded services are quite regressive as you have to pay for them whether you use them or not, and there are no market forces driving them to be cost competitive.


Except that tax-funded services are operated without a profit motive, so they're not particularly subject to the market forces that would drive them to become prohibitively expensive. That's one of the features of operating something as a collective, via a government.

At the same time it also becomes an incentive to use them, because they become cheaper than the individualistic alternatives (as with the cost of owning, maintaining, and fueling a car).


That's a pretty naive view.

The profit motive absolutely still exists, as the government will contract out the work to a corporation that will give a kick-back to the politicians that granted them the contract. If not directly via cash (Likely illegal, but still happens anyways), then via campaign contributions or insider stock trading tips (Again, likely illegal, but still happens anyways).


Market forces keep things cheap. Government services or government granted monopolies that prohibit competition can be extremely expensive and low quality since there is no incentive to compete and improve quality and or prices.


Theoretically, in that ideal world of perfect competition, sure.

One glimpse at our current reality will show that this is not what is working in practice.

Agriculture, for example, is subsidised up the wazoo. Were it not, market forces would dictate that no agriculture is done at all unless it can turn a profit.

Medication, for another example, is more expensive in the US than in any other place on earth. Market forces dictate that you pay hundreds of dollars for a commodity medication whereas in other distant lands the government negotiates a good price for its citizens.

Market forces give you one, maybe two ISPs to choose from in your area that are expensive and slow, or bandwidth capped. Those market forces also collude to prevent new entrants into the market, e.g municipal providers.

Market forces don't really invest in infrastructure, or shared infrastructure, unless they can get a return on the investment (e.g a toll road).

Market forces will try to keep things cheap, like labour costs, which is why there is such thing as collective bargaining and unions to ensure a person's pay isn't optimised away.

Market forces may also optimise away an entire industry or competence in favour of importing. This is how countries like the UK have transitioned to more of a service based economy and have also practically lost the capability to manufacture certain things.

The overall point being that for all of the things where the invisible hand of the market works wonderfully (as it essentially does with consumer goods), there are just as many cases where that is explicitly not desirable and checks and balances (i.e regulation, collective bargaining, government) are required to ensure the market works in favour of society and not against it. The two things have to work in balance, having one without the other would lead to undesirable outcomes.


>Except that tax-funded services are operated without a profit motive,

They are operated with a "cram as many resources into my silo as possible" motive which is barely better.


In a city, everybody benefit from good infrastructure like a good public transport system, even indirectly.

I don't use public transport that much, I use a bike, but recognize the necessity of public transport anyway.



I’m not aware of any US cities that mandate surface parking. It is normally a denoted in a number of spaces per some estimate of what would be needed. The spaces can be configured however.

Developers choose surface lots when the cost of land is less than the cost of a garage.


Oh that makes a lot of sense. Then perhaps the cost of land is just too low in US cities? How are parking lots taxed?


They’re taxed as many different ways as there are cities.

The main factor is the space available and the cost of the land when the parking was built. Density, land value, and taxes on that land tend to move together.

Huge surface lots are most common in the sprawling parts of the US that were developed post-automobile: particularly suburbs and sprawling western cities. Some of that land that is now part of a city, wasn’t, when it was developed. It was cheap land outside of a city at the time.


> Then perhaps the cost of land is just too low in US cities?

Land generally is cheap in the USA because the USA is pretty damn big.

Europeans often don't think about how large the USA is. California alone is larger than every European country except Sweden, Spain, France, and Ukraine, and Texas is bigger than any of those. We have 10 states that are each bigger than the UK on their own.

It's why nobody in the USA takes a train anywhere. Even with a 200 mph train, it would take 15 hours to cross the country, and that's assuming no stops. In some states, you could ride that train for 3 hours in a straight line and not even leave the state.


It’s crazy there are surface lots in Manhattan.


Are surface parking requirements actually that common? My local codes (in Nashville, TN) [1] don't seem to care how you get your parking spaces as long as you meet the requirements for your building size and expected use, and buildings are frequently built over parking garages in the denser parts of town to maximize land use.

Surface parking's still the norm here as you move out towards the suburbs and land becomes cheaper, but that's not a regulatory thing AFAICT-- parking garages are really expensive per-space, so surface parking is the standard here unless there's a good reason to do otherwise.

[1] https://library.municode.com/tn/metro_government_of_nashvill...


I think you answered your own question. The code doesn't specify above or underground because the economics do.

However, the code does specify a minimum number of parking spaces based on size and use.


Also, important point is that these minimum number of car parking spaces are completely made up pseudoscience bullshit. Nobody actually has any idea how much parking is 'needed' so you end up with a nail salon having a requirement for 1.25 spots per booth or something.


At least in New York there's so much stuff underground already. I don't think you can fit parking too. Better to just discourage cars and encourage public transportation.


In downtown Los Angeles, surface lots are quite valuable because film crews routinely set up base camp in them. They can't set up in a garage.


Oh yeah I set up base camp for a filmed robotics publicity student in a garage once and they got angry.


Film crews in LA are renting the lots for their production, not taking a ticket as if they are parking as a regular customer. I’m sure the garage would have been accommodating if you had asked to use the space.


Yeah, it's a different contract for film crews. I worked in DTLA for a few years and when you go to a lot or building that has been rented, there is always a bill posted on all entrances letting you know you may be filmed. I believe it's a permit given by the city.

You can't just start filming or setting up without going through the proper channels.


i'm not sure if i remember this correctly, but i think i read somewhere that the cost breakdown is roughly 10-fold per lot:

* an above ground parking garage is ten times more expensive than surface parking

* subterrain parking is ten times more expensive than an above ground parking garage


For housing affordability and CO2 reduction reasons, giant underground parking parking lots need to be less prevalent kinda soon. They require huge amounts of concrete, which has significant CO2 emissions, and they're so expensive to build they inflate the price of housing (one of these spots costs tens of thousands).

Not to say that we need to go back to surface parking. No we just need to change our cities and transportation networks so that people don't need the parking to begin with.


"a bit more expensive to build" is an understatement.


At the very least you should put solar cells above the parking lot.


I live in Europe, but whenever I visit a larger city, I always go to a parking garage. Only once in my life have I ever parked on a regular public parking spot.


It's not just "a bit" more expensive to build. It's very expensive and also quite inconvenient to use.

>Maybe it would be best if there were no parking mandates at all and cities let the market figure out the right amount of parking space.

That's just hilarious. You should visit just about any city in central and souther europe. All were build either before cars were a consideration or without adequate planning. The result is that driving downtown is a nightmare. Having minimal parking works ok when the population density is high and public transportation is good, but in a car-centric country like the US it just wouldn't work. And having public transportation is another thing to consider when planning a city.


>The result is that driving downtown is a nightmare

Is.. this a bad thing? Why do you feel entitled to a great car driving experience in the densest part of downtown?


why do you feel entitled to good public transportation? If everyone in the US preferred/valued high quality public transportation, that is what we would have. Its clearly not what most people want, and honestly, I don't see that changing much in the next 20-50 years.

Huge swaths of the US population don't live in dense urban areas, and don't have access to public transportation at all.

Try living in the country or even in most suburbs without a car; nearly impossible, and it is impossibly expensive to extend public transportation to every part of the US



I actually live in a city in central Europe, which is why I'm baffled by US city planning. I've also lived in Tokyo for while, where there is much, much less surface parking available than in my home city. I liked that a lot actually.


You're not doing your argument any favors by comparing to European cities, which have great public transportation for the most part, and heavily discourage car use. The entire point of a downtown is to have everything accessible for humans. If it was meant for cars, downtown would look like a highway with service stations and drive-thrus.

I moved to Berlin a few years ago and aside from unplanned vacations into car-accessible destinations and heavy furniture pickup, don't miss having a car.

> Having minimal parking works ok when the population density is high and public transportation is good, but in a car-centric country like the US it just wouldn't work.

The US's design is not handed down from the Gods. It can and should change, for the livability of future generations if not the boomers who will cling to their coal-rolling machines as long as they can.


Ooooh, related one of my favorite topics.

Part of the reason modern lots are so big and why parking covers so much area is simply because cars are too big! There is zero reason a person needs to own a 7 seat SUV to transport 3 people or five 2x4s twice a year. The proliferation of oversized vehicles continues to exacerbate a significant number of local and global issues and I'm of the belief that we need strong regulation to limit the size of vehicles.


I'll just throw out there that I have 3 small children, and we had to upsize our vehicle to accompany them, so now I drive me small sub-compact, but to haul our kids we had to upgrade to a minivan. In a lot of discussions I see around transport it often feels as though people like to pretend that those with small children don't exist.

Like no matter how great public transit is trying to transport 3 rambunctious under 6's isn't going to work for our family or anyone else on the public transit for any meaningful trip.


I have two kids, not three, but we have never had a car, always taken the kids everywhere on public transport. I’m not going to say every trip was a joyful experience, but imho you are making a way bigger deal out of this than the reality. Although to be fair it depends a lot on the quality of the public options in your metro region.

Downside of kids that always travel by public transport: on the rare occasions that they do travel by car, they puke nearly every time. For us public transport is a lot less stressful than traveling by car.


I applaud your efforts my friend, part of our problem is we've never lived anywhere with good public transit. I will also just throw out the world changes quite dramatically from 2 kids to 3 kids, once those little buggers outnumber you things get a lot more exciting in parenting.


I don’t fault folks who have three kids, but with fertility rates plummeting, it’s not something that should be optimized for. Families are getting smaller over time.


The question is if families are getting smaller because parents don’t want more kids or because of regulation[0]. Maybe requiring people to have smaller cars or use public transport would further cut the birth rate.

I’m only half-serious. I know there is good reason for public transport or having smaller cars in urban environments.

0: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3665046


Generally the deciding factor has been birth control. The more birth control is available and accepted as a choice, the more women choose to postpone their first child, which automatically leads to having fewer children.

> Maybe requiring people to have smaller cars or use public transport would further cut the birth rate.

This should be easy enough to test by comparing against cohorts in Europe and Asia.


Fertility rates plummeting is not necessarily a good thing in the long run, so maybe having kids should be incentivized.

Yay for you, but the public transit in my area is useless for getting to the stores or destinations. It's better for commuting into the dense urban area for work hours, but not gonna fly for taking my kids shoe-shopping.

That said, glad you have the option for public transit. I'd be happy if my city decided to beef up public transit, but the NIMBYs keep shooting down the public transit overhaul bills.


Minivans aren't the problem. That's a sensible design for moving a lot of people around.

It's those lifted trucks that have a hood taller than some shorter adults, to say nothing of children. New pickups in general are just ridiculous compared to the same models from 30 years ago, which were just fine for, say, actual ranch work.


A minivan is practical especially with 2 or more kids. In my area vast majority of people have SUVs and pickups and it’s normally one person in it. People have to have that GMC Denali or other equivalent giant vehicle to show off I guess. It’s those big SUVs and pickups that make no sense, people lean towards the “why not?” Instead of “why?”.

So how was it working before all these SUV? We had a “Fiat Panda” as kids and we were five people and never had problems carrying stuff.

Why did you need a minivan when a camry or equivalent can easily and now comfortably seat 5?


In response to that I will take quote "Only Dead on the Inside" by Author James Breakwell

"A minivan has room for luggage. It has room for air. And it has room liquids. That's right: It has space for THREE states of matter. Kids shoot liquid out of every orifice, and it constantly needs to be replenished. The minivan knows that it knows everything. Each minivan has at least twelve state-of-the-art liquid stabilization chambers, known to commoners as cup holders. That's way more than any other vehicle. It's basically a cup holder collection with an engine attached. If you want to you can haul a dozen slushies at once. Can't find slushies at the end of the world, not my problem. I don't have problems. I drive a minivan."

More seriously, when we go to visit family you can't fit luggage for a family of 5 and that family in a Camry, also when you have to grocery shop with 3 small children you have to be able to fit both the groceries and the children in the car at the end.


I agree that 3 children is way different than 2 depending on age. Just think child seats (i.e. trying to fit 3 in the back seat of a regular sedan will be a challenge, while it's completely possible for 2. Been there, lived that without any issues.

For luggage (even with 3 I would think) a hatch back does wonders. My larger limousine cannot fit the same amount of luggage or larger packaged purchases, simply because it doesn't fit through the trunk door at all, gets stuck because it's too long or too high and gets caught by stuff that sticks down into the trunk space (why they designed things that way, do not ask me). All of those things fit into the smaller hatchback we have without any trouble at all.

I can count the number of times I have had to put something in the rear seats for groceries on one hand and that was w/ the "large" car where I combined toilet paper, kitchen paper and a 'large' Costco run and the trunk space itself could've fit everything if it hadn't been for the above mentioned problems that would have been solved w/ the hatchback. 3 children on the backseat would've been no issue in the hatchback in that situation. Now going through a Costco on a busy Saturday morning w/ 3 small children would've been another story ;)


Have you ever tried installing 3 car seats into a compact car?


There are some expensive car seats designed to cram all three kids into a back seat, but buying a larger car instead is cheaper. They also tend to be designed for triplets, if all three kids are different sizes it becomes a lot more complicated.

Most cars only have attachments for two car seats in the rear, so even if you did have space the middle seat would have to use the generally discouraged seat belt install instead.


Right, that's my point in responding to the parent comment about fitting 5 people in a Camry; it's not so simple when 3 of them require car seats.


We have a 7-seater for extended family. My nephews come over a lot, so that allows us to transport all four children, two to three adults, and a small amount of shopping bags or picnic supplies.

The fuel efficiency isn't great, but that's why our primary vehicle is a sedan that seats four (plug-in hybrid). Generally we use the sedan, except for large shopping trips or when needing the larger seating capacity.


I concur, and try fitting three car seats next to each other in the back of anything but a very large truck or SUV. Never mind the fact that often one parent usually needs to sit next to really young babies for the first year or so.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s. My recollection is that the family vehicle of choice for my parents and those of most of my friends was what you'd call the "generic midsized family sedan" - Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, etc.

All of us managed just fine. Even taking extended multiday family roadtrips.

Plus, the Accord of the late 80s and early 90s was closer in size to a 2022 Civic than 2022 Accord.

Nowadays people insist that they need at minimum a Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, or the current fave - Kia Telluride, to transport a single kid.


While this is true, not all of the exterior volume increase resulted in more passenger space. Crumple zones and other crash protection force automakers to add what is effectively a lot of dead space in the frame and body, and since shrinking the interior is generally frowned upon that extra volume instead causes the exterior to balloon outward.


Yes, but I'd say the old Accord is still closer to a new Civic than a new Accord. For example:

1990 Accord (source: https://hondanews.com/en-US/honda-automobiles/releases/relea...)

Legroom 42.6/34.3 Hiproom 52.4/52.4 Shoulder: 54.8/54.8 Passenger volume: 93 cu ft Cargo volume: 14.4 cu ft

2022 Civic (source: https://owners.honda.com/vehicles/information/2002/Civic-Sed...)

Legroom: 42.2/36 Hiproom: 51.2/49.8 Shoulder: 52.6/52 Passenger volume: 91.4 cu ft Cargo volume: 12.9 cu ft

2021 Honda Accord (source: ) Legroom: 42.3/40.4 Hiproom: 55.3/55 Shoulder: 58.3/56.5 Passenger volume: 102.7 cu ft Cargo volume: 16.7 cu ft

Though granted - too lazy to do the calculations right now, but I imagine a 1990 Honda Accord might be priced closer to a 2002 Honda Civic than Accord too.


I feel like this is the same argument on HN regarding memory in laptops. Every argument insists that 8GB is useless, and shame on a company for selling that config (or not offering 32GB).


And how many child seats did you fit in your 80s and 90s cars?


Oversized vehicles also feed their owners' egos. And display wealth. Practicality as a factor is in the rear-view mirror, so-to-speak


then let's play into this and charge for oversized parking spots


Money won’t give land back, sadly.

>Part of the reason modern lots are so big and why parking covers so much area is simply because cars are too big!

Spaces are typically 9' apart. I've seen some new ones that have moved to 10'. But part of the reason for "large parking lots" is the building code requires a minimum number of spaces for a building of a certain occupancy.

>There is zero reason a person needs to own a 7 seat SUV to transport 3 people or five 2x4s twice a year.

While I agree, people do this because everybody else does it. If you're in a Mini, surrounded by Escalades, the Escalade starts to look a lot more attractive.

We went through all this in the 90s. The SUV explosion was because women like it. They like feeling safe; they like being up high; the car companies discovered this, and made the SUV a really comfy place.

There is no regulation that will fix this. You want to fix it? Make cities and public transportation livable again. It's really not that difficult. A safe, affordable, well-managed city with good schools would be attractive. The problem is achieving this will make certain people unhappy. Pick which one you want more.


>Part of the reason modern lots are so big and why parking covers so much area is simply because cars are too big! There is zero reason a person needs to own a 7 seat SUV to transport 3 people or five 2x4s twice a year. The proliferation of oversized vehicles continues to exacerbate a significant number of local and global issues and I'm of the belief that we need strong regulation to limit the size of vehicles.

I'll ignore for a second that I completely disagree the size of cars are the issue with parking lots. As someone who has a large truck, the spots are not designed for it, they're designed for a mid-size sedan. So, you aren't shrinking parking spots unless you're planning on massively increasing insurance costs due to all the door dings and bumper scrapes that will follow by making parking spaces smaller.

Who decides what is "large enough"? The family with 3 or 4 kids who has to take them to sporting events on the weekend like football or hockey and ALL of the requisite gear just have to take multiple cars now to fit everything? And that's going to be better for the environment or society? What about a weekend trip to the cabin, they need to buy and store a trailer now to have enough room for their stuff? Because unless you've got a solution to those among dozens of other issues, no legislator in their right mind is going to back significantly decreasing the size of cars. If you want to find an issue opposed from both sides of the aisle, try telling people they are going to have to start towing a trailer everywhere to get their kids to sports on the weekend.


The tax code already makes plenty of allowances for number of children and/ro dependents so I'm not sure why you think it'd be some herculean effort for a car size regulation to allow people with kids to have more cars. There's no reason for a childless couple to be driving a 7-seater SUV around everywhere. If they need a separate trailer for that one trip a year where they need to haul a kayak or something, that's fine, that still means they aren't burning all that extra energy the other 364 days a year.


OP wants to eliminate large vehicles full stop. There's no allowance for a large family. I guess we're also banning anything larger than a small fishing boat as well since there will be no way to trailer it anywhere if we're banning full-size pickup trucks and SUVs.


Average vehicle sizes in the US have gotten larger in the US over the last 20 years. Are you telling me it was impossible to have 3-4 children in a vehicle 20 years ago, despite birth rates falling in the meantime?


20 years ago was 2002... yes in 2002 people who had 3-4 kid drove an SUV, a van or a mini-van, just like they do today. The argument isn't about average vehicle size, the argument OP made was to eliminate ALL large vehicles.


Average SUV size in the US has gone up in the last 20 years. You're engaging the argument in the weakest way possible (ALL large vehicles, which has to mean anything other than a subcompact right?!) instead of trying to Steelman it. I'm not sure that larger vehicles are doing anything to parking lot sizes (it should be trivial to look this up in revisions to your city code though), but they do pose a large risk to road safety (which is most obvious by seeing the increasing number of pedestrian and cycling injuries and fatalities in US statistics) and contribute heavily to road wear which results in increased tax burden to support the paving of roads.

tw04 14 days ago [flagged] | | | [–]

>Average SUV size in the US has gone up in the last 20 years. You're engaging the argument in the weakest way possible (ALL large vehicles, which has to mean anything other than a subcompact right?!) instead of trying to Steelman it.

The AVERAGE size of a vehicle is literally irrelevant to the discussion. You asked what people with 3-4 kids did 20 years ago: My response was they bought the same Tahoe they buy now. Which was nearly identical in size. You keep saying "The average size" when it has little to no bearing on OPs complaint: which is he wants to eliminate full-size SUVs and trucks.

YOU implied that full size SUVs and trucks weren't a thing 20 years ago by asking what people did. Now you're moving the goal posts because I pointed out how silly your implication was. The Tahoe having its wheelbase grow 4" in 20 years isn't what OP is complaining about and you know it.


> YOU implied that full size SUVs and trucks weren't a thing 20 years ago by asking what people did. Now you're moving the goal posts because I pointed out how silly your implication was. The Tahoe having its wheelbase grow 4" in 20 years isn't what OP is complaining about and you know it.

Let's quote what GP said: "There is zero reason a person needs to own a 7 seat SUV to transport 3 people or five 2x4s twice a year. The proliferation of oversized vehicles continues to exacerbate a significant number of local and global issues and I'm of the belief that we need strong regulation to limit the size of vehicles.". You chose to interpret "proliferation of oversized vehicles" and "strong regulation to limit the size of vehicles" as "eliminate full-size SUVs and trucks". I have no idea how you got there and what your definition of "large" here and how it follows from what GP said. That's what I mean by you creating a strawman. If you steelman the argument, you wouldn't get "eliminate full-size SUVs and trucks" from it.

tw04 13 days ago [flagged] | | | [–]

If you applied a modicum of common sense you wouldn’t be bending over backwards to try to make an argument that regulating the max size of a vehicle somehow leaves room for interpretation. There’s literally no reason you would “regulate the max size of a vehicle” unless you’re trying to eliminate a category that currently exists. “Sorry guys, you can’t make the suburban any bigger” would change absolutely nothing and not address his concerns at all. But you keep prattling on about straw man arguments if that makes you feel better. You’ve yet to contribute anything of substance to the discussion and I doubt you’re going to start now.

> Who decides what is "large enough"?

Maybe the market can decide. We could be levying higher prices in taxes on the cars that occupy more space, damage roads more and are more dangerous to pedestrians.


By and large we already do that. The larger vehicles are more expensive, and in most states your tabs are based on the price of the vehicle. If you want to go a step beyond that, I'm sure you'd be able to find some support if it wasn't an outrageous tax. This assumption that because OP doesn't need a large vehicle, nobody has a reason to need one is just silly.

And as I said, it does absolutely nothing to address parking lots.


Let the market decide. Pick a winner in advance and tax the outcome I don't want out of existence. This is about as much market-based policy as your typical politician is maiking science-based policy.


Agree on this point. I have a "compact" pickup and I absolutely will not even try to park it in a garage as the spaces are too small.

I wish the judgement would stop on what people need/use. If they cause a huge impact, add a tax. (lower the gas guzzler MPG requirement, etc)

Any before anyone says anything, I do construction/wood working on the side so yes, I absolutely use it but do not daily drive it.


The judgement exists because construction is happening in economies around the world but only Americans drive this many large vehicles. Unless you think Americans are building _more_ than other economies (which it definitely isn't), you'll quickly come to the conclusion that because parking and large lane widths are mandated by local code and vehicle weight isn't really taxed in any way, that Americans have an incentive to buy as big a car as they can that fits within their government mandated built environment.


You could consider just not participating in sports that require strapping on 20 pounds of plastic equipment for protection.


I don't think it's necessary to change recreational activities to use fewer automobiles. Plenty of folks in Europe and East Asia participate in sports with lots of equipment and still take trains. It's just an American cultural norm. Most people in the US immediately view transit as unsuitable when you have to bring large objects, when places that actually have a culture of using transit don't.


For people who are skeptical of how regulation can help with this, Japan actually used to financially penalize buying large cars relative to small cars. The small ones are called kei cars: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kei_car

There's much less of a savings benefit to buying kei cars since 2014, but they remain very popular. The decades of government incentive probably helped normalize them, and they really do seem to fit better in Japan's smaller streets.


I remember discovering Kei cars in Gran Turismo, and then really wishing I could get a Suzuki Cappuccino [0] in the USA. It wasn't a very fast car by any means, but it was incredibly light weight and nimble, being smaller than even a Mazda Miata.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_Cappuccino


>> I'm of the belief that we need strong regulation to limit the size of vehicles.

This is wishfull thinking as cars are manufactured globally, have a very long life and it's pretty tough to imagine this sort of wide regulation fitting with the needs of a major urban center and huge parts of rural environments. I'd argue population controls which are plain crazy would still be easier to implement than regulated the size of vehicles.


Just for the record cars are not "manufactured globally" cars are manufactured on specific countries which then have long logistics of acquisition, not all countries make cars and the ones that do can very certainly be pushed through legislation to make "smaller cars", as this problem is specifically poignant on the United States changing united states legislation would have a large footprint by itself in the same manner that air quality standards of California have nearly become international standards for all vehicles

That said there is no political will for this to happen, therefore it won't, which is sad given that is a good idea


US is the biggest market that want bigger cars. I believe US market encourages makes worldwide car model bigger.

It's unclear to me whether democratic governance is capable of reducing consumption. People want to buy bigger cars, for comfort or perceived safety, or for how they make them feel.


The CAFE standards (fuel efficiency requirements by size of vehicle) pushed the car manufacturers towards making bigger cars, and the ridiculously wide early US road building standards helped them. It's a common example of perverse incentives.


In my home town in Oklahoma, the worst offenders are the churches. Huge parking lots which are only used on Sunday.


Not sure how your churches work in Oklahoma but I grew up in the south and there was Sunday morning and night church, wednesday church, some kind of Friday prayer group or teen socialization night, a soup kitchen day, and probably others.

The entire congregation isn't going to these but I'd wager most churches are actively using their lots throughout the week.


In my city, churches actually made a choice that's even worse than that: on the weekends, it seems that there's some kind of deal with the police, and churchgoers just park right in the bike lanes all down my street. It makes my street, which contains two bike lanes, absolute hell to bike down on weekends.


> Huge parking lots which are only used on Sunday.

For venues that hold 'large events', if they have a capacity of X people then zoning often dictates that they need Y parking spots. See page 24:

* https://www.oklahomacounty.org/Portals/0/OKCo%20Zoning%20%28...


Church parking lots are the perfect example how things fail when your capacity planning only looks at averages.

What would your solution be for venues that have spiky attendance? Concert venues, nightlife, sports arenas, seasonal tourism?

Because sure you can centralize parking and then make people walk but there’s a reason we have many different tiers of caches.


As someone from Oklahoma, just use grass. Lots of overflow lots already have grass. It's literally a prairie with wildgrass that has deep roots. If continuous high-traffic isn't a concern then grass is a perfect alternative.


The new trend in France is car parks covered by solar panels. It provides shades for the cars and deflect the excess heat back to the sky.


The government of the German state Baden-Württemberg mandates solar panels on every newly built parking lot (>35 spaces) since this year.

The recently elected new federal government debates right now applying this to all of Germany.


In general, there is way less huge open-air parking lot in France compared to the U.S. Even the one found around commercial center tend to be dwarfed compared to what you can find in a smaller U.S city.


Solar panels are not reflective


Solar panels have an albedo of ~0.3. Asphalt around ~0.05. That makes it 6x better in terms of heat reflected back right out the gate. There are many other, more complicated factors that make this even better in practice.


No, they absorb the sunlight and turn it into electricity.


But because they absorb sunlight, they get hot. Basic thermodynamics.

Still better than asphalt.


To a point, because 100%-efficient panels don't exist. If they did, then my naive understanding is that they wouldn't get hot.


Perfectly black and doesn't get hot in the sun. I love it.


again, thermodynamics:

> The maximum theoretical efficiency calculated is 86.8% for a stack of an infinite number of cells, using the incoming concentrated sunlight radiation. When the incoming radiation comes only from an area of the sky the size of the sun, the efficiency limit drops to 68.7%.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cell_efficiency#Thermody...


That's why I said that 100% efficient panels don't exist.


If there is to be a hot surface it's better that it's the far side of a panel a few metres above ground than the asphalt beneath your feet.


They're turning that energy from the sun into electricity instead of local heating.

Of course solar panels are only 20% efficient or so and thus will still heat up, but not as much as if the panels were not generating energy. Damn thermodynamics, you can't even break even.


I'm all for reducing parking lots generally, I just can't realistically expect that many others feel like I do.

As a temporary solution, can't they start planting trees in the parking lots? Just give up a single lot for every N lots, and turn it into a garden with a tree that can provide a lot of shade and is low-maintenance.


Better, instead of solid pavement, use perforated blocks that grass can grow up through, and rain seep through. That also eliminates much of the drainage problem.


This is answered in the article


Folks interested in this subject should consider joining the Parking Reform Network for connections to a bunch of people working on the subject around the world: https://parkingreform.org/


There is an upside to heat islands - the winters tend to be a bit more pleasant. I'm not sure what's worse though if you're living in the city - a cold winter or a hot summer; depends upon where you are I suppose.


It’s generally cheaper and easier to heat a home than it is to cool a home.

Anyone can plug in a cheap electric heater. But an AC is a trickier proposition for most.


For AC, cooling is far cheaper than heating. Cheap electric heater also not cheap for bill.

If you can install an AC, then it’s not hard to use them for heating as well. Heat pumps get better COPs when heating, than cooling.

You would expect a COP of 2 for cooling (I.e. 1000W of electricity removes 2000W heat), and a COP of 3 for heating (I.e. 1000W of electricity produces 3000W of useful heat).

For heating a number of options exist from cheap electric heaters (which cost a lot to run); to gas or oil burners which require more infrastructure to build, but are cheap to run; and of course heat pumps, either air or ground sourced.

For cooling, your only practical options are a heat pump, or an evaporative cooler if your in a dry climate. Both are more experienced up from than an electric heater, and require infrastructure.

Finally insulating a home to retain heat naturally produced by those living inside can significantly reduce costs, along with insulating the humans (coats, jumpers etc). But cooling will always require a active component to move heat, and addition energy input. Although with good building design you can scavenge some of that energy using stuff like the stack effect.


Let's cover parkings with PV roofs then we can make use of this energy.


Let's build a building over them and put the solar panels on the building's roof.


So like this but with solar panels on the roof?

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/84/9e/62/849e6294c5c5ce739fd1656ab...

They're already very common, especially in hilly areas where the garage can also be the basement. Multi-unit versions also exist.


Yeah like that, but also for commercial buildings.


Rather than the dream of ubiquitous public transit (which even in compact rail/bus-friendly Japan is often lacking in suburban and rural areas), outside of city centers it seems like a more attainable goal is self-driving cars.

With self-driving cars, you can consolidate parking to single vertical parking structures that service the area, and have businesses and condos in its surroundings build more closely together in aesthetic walkable clusters. As long as the automated valet "fetch" of your car takes only a few minutes people will be happy.


I really don't see how buying more buses to service areas that are lacking is somehow harder or more expensive than a technology that hasn't matured yet to the level that will satisfy the public.

I very much hope that the tech does massively improve but my opinion of it getting there soon is much more dim (although I'd say in the above case, lots of self driving tram like buses would be still better).


Do you seriously think it's more practical to expect a fleet of self-driving cars instead of a bus with priority signaling? What's the reason? Fiscal? Environmental? Generate commerce?


The town next to me in Indiana has giant oversized parking lots. I swear the Target parking lot is 3 times as large as the Target itself.


Paint them white. And roads too.


How about: stop building parking lots altogether and replace the ones we already built with things that are actually useful. Cars are nothing but a huge waste of space.


Actually cars are incredibly useful and people who don’t need them still buy out of convenience despite the cost.

Maybe not useful to you, but we don’t design cities around just your needs.


I agree. We don't design cities around my needs. We don't design cities around anyone's needs. We design cities around cars.

There is an alternative type of city design talked about in detail in these videos (the style is a bit like Thunderf00t's, if you don't like him you probably won't like these either):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oafm733nI6U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLjqGwo5QaA


Yes, we don't design cities around our needs, but around cars. 95%+ of the time they're standing around taking up space. While they're used they're used for just 1,3 persons in average. While they're used they take so much more space than alternative modes of transport (public transport, bikes, velomobiles, etc.). They are so heavy that they easily kill pedestrians and cyclists. They use hilarious amounts of energy, pollute cities with noise, and take a big part in destroying the environment like billions of species including humans need it to sustain themselves .

That's a problem.

Cities should be designed for people, not cars.


I don't disagree with you, but would point out that the cities have already been built, and what we have is what we have. Is there a sound way to fix what we've done without causing massive displacement of persons and infrastructure?


If change needs to be made, why not start making it now? One thing that always amazes me is human creativity. Given constraints, people always seem to make the most of them.


Cars are incredibly useful because we spent trillions building our cities to be friendly to cars.


Wouldn’t it have cost even more to build a bunch of Manhattans to pack everyone into? The issue is that North America has tons of space available. People aren’t going to spend the big money to build large buildings if there’s empty lots on the cheap just across the street. And so it goes that sprawl spreads across the landscape like microbial culture across a Petri dish.

And for similar reasons we don’t expect the microbes to grow into a tower at the centre.


That's a false dichotomy. Walkable cities existed for millennia before we figured out how to build Manhattans.


A millennium ago cities were overcrowded, smelly, dangerous, disease-infested slums with no plumbing or electricity. People living in the country were much better off, even if they were peasants who had to pay extortionate shares of their crop to the local lord.


And somehow even people in the countryside had no cars. I don't see your point.


They had horses, mules, donkeys, and oxen.


How many miles per day do you think they traveled using those?

The point is that now we have cars and we have lots of space to grow and people don’t want to huddle together, so we don’t. Furthermore, people like trees and fresh air and natural spaces. You won’t find any of that in dense urban areas. The best you can hope for is a couple of trees lining the sidewalks and a park here or there.


You can "not huddle together" without moving the necessities of daily live twenty miles away and only connect them with a six lane highway to were people live.


Says the guy who just complained we spend money on car infrastructure.

Newsflash: we spend money on all infrastructure, buses, rail, ports, etc.

You can ague that the proportions are wrong (and I would be inclined to agree) but come on, at least make a token attempt to act like you're arguing in good faith here rather than just saying whatever you think will promote your particular beliefs that minute.


Yeah, and all those other types of infrastructure are so much more ridiculously efficient than cars. The crazy thing though is that actually designing cities better (not just for cars) can make things far, far better for cars too, because only people who have a specific need or desire to drive are using the roads and car parks at any one time, as opposed to everybody having no other option and fighting over the limited space on the road and for car parks!


Until quite recently cities were organized such that the things people need are close by. Then the car was invented and someone had the idea that we should separate living, recreation, and working spatially and connect those locations with highways. In hindsight it turns out that this idea wasn't very good. Replacing highways with subways improves the situation a bit because subways are more efficient than highways, but real solution is to re-mix cities so that you don't have to travel 10km in five different directions each to get through your day.


Trashbin your ideology for a minute and zoom out to the big picture. You may as well complain that we have inland cities now. Productive things are always located things as far away from other productive things they need to interact with as the equilibrium between cost (time and money are fungible with each other here) of transportation and value of the interaction permits. The medieval farmer sold his surplus in the local market because it was the best deal after transportation costs. Fast forward a millennium and an industrial revolution and you get cars. Cars presented a massive drop in the time cost of traversing distance for individuals and allowed people to separate housing from working. The fact that some busybodies enshrined this in law in some places is incidental. The fundamental difference here is akin to how rails made it possible to raise animals for slaughter on marginal land far from ports. The car currently fills a similar role for the random commuter as the rail did for a rancher in Nowhereville Wyoming in 1873 and will likely continue to do so until something better comes along.

Trying to force people to live near where they work is a fools errand akin to forcing commodities production to happen near ports now that we have technology such that we don't need to do this. While there are certainly plenty of low hanging fruit to be picked (getting rid of zoning, investing in public transit infrastructure) but on a fundamental level the cat is not going back in the bag. Cities are just going to be ringed by some amount of sprawl because we have the technology to do that. You can play with regulatory policy to screw with the width of this band of sprawl but barring some black swan technological change it will always be there because there is always going to be some zone where that works. Things like self driving cars and a proliferation of electric bicycles widen that zone. Things like high energy prices contract that zone.

You're trying to fight civilization sized trends with public policy here. I'm not gonna say it won't work but on a longer than "until the next guy is in office and it's his problem" timeline the odds are long. Metaphorically speaking, you're looking at an early industrial workplace and saying "this is dangerous, these machines are gonna eat people and these carts of heavy stuff are gonna crush people, we shouldn't do this". That's not how things work. People are gonna come along and put guards on machines and invent traffic patterns to keep workers safe and life will go on. Stop focusing on miles driven or cars on the road and focus on the things that are the actual problems and figure out how to minimize those in a way that isn't a non-starter. Nobody in 1900 was going to shut down a factory that supports hundreds (or thousands) so a dozen people can be not dead and a several dozen can keep their appendages where they belong. Likewise society is not going to just accept the quality of life hit that would come with getting rid of sprawl for a benefit of similar order.


You point would be much stronger if we didn't very strictly regulate what you can build where in cities and cities still grew organically. Why do you for example need parking minimums if demand and supply could figure it out? Why can't I build higher buildings in my neighborhood even though demand is really strong? Laws create demand for cars because they shape the city to be more car friendly than it might be if left to anarchy. The positive feedback loop of car friendly laws leading to more cars leading to more demand for car friendly laws is very obvious and hard to break. The problem is that cars don't scale very well and more and more cities reach the end of what can reasonably be done with cars.

Of course cars won't go away. They have legitimate uses. They are just obscenely overused today because of the way we chose to shape the incentives.

I would appreciate it if you dropped the word "ideology" from this discussion, or at least prove why your opinion can't be legitimately called an ideology.


>You point would be much stronger if we didn't very strictly regulate what you can build where in cities and cities still grew organically.

Take a look at the developing world. There are plenty of places where zoning is minimal and can be ignored if the right palms are greased (the US was like that too at one time). They still build highways and buy cars in droves (despite the latter being a much larger fraction of people's income) though they do build more public transit as well (developing countries build a lot of everything).

>Why can't I build higher buildings in my neighborhood even though demand is really strong?

Because people with exactly the same hubris as yourself who just so happened to have been born 75yr earlier also thought they knew best.

>Laws create demand for cars because they shape the city to be more car friendly than it might be if left to anarchy. The positive feedback loop of car friendly laws leading to more cars leading to more demand for car friendly laws is very obvious and hard to break.

Yes, American sprawling suburbs are over the top but in their time they were actually what people wanted and worked quite well. Now we're reaping what we sow.

>They are just obscenely overused today because of the way we chose to shape the incentives.

I thing regulating what one can build on their own property (vs what one can emit off of their property) is a violation of property rights but that's about as far as our agreement goes here. Attempting to incentive our way out of the problem is doomed to the same failure without some fundamental change in human nature


Nope. I lived I a transit-centric city for a while. Cheap, plentiful public transit for all.

And you know what? Once people could afford a car they bought one. They didn’t need it, they wanted it.


It's almost like a car is a status symbol or something.


I lived in Seoul for a time, and still frequently visit. The public transportation there is arguably one of, if not maybe even the, best in the world. It certainly puts anything in the US to utter shame. It's one of the few cities I would gladly (instead of grudgingly) utilize the public transit system fully.

Yet all of the Seoulites I know desire a personal car and work towards acquiring one.


I live in a city who's streetplan predates the invention of the car by a millennium.

You know roads/highways predate America right?


Roads, even highways, have very little to do with car dependent city planning.


Yet I bet you would categorise my city as designed around the car

They have no utility whatsoever?

This is what a cult looks like


Huge parking lots? try finding a place to park in Portland during timbers game good luck...


Seriously, who will own a car 20 years from now?


Probably about as many people as today (in the US, at least). Short a massive revolution in on-demand vehicles, public transit, or a major move back towards urban centers the suburban sprawl and consequent "need" for cars is unlikely to change.


They're going to be electric. I was thinking that less people might be interested in owning due to the different type of maintenance needed, and more expensive costs.


Necessity, though. People (in the US) "need" cars due to the way we've built our cities over the past 70 or 80 years (in particular). Even if they don't want electric cars, they'll end up buying them. Just as people who didn't want cars that "have a computer in them" (versus older, almost purely electromechanical, cars) still buy cars today. Maintenance just got outsourced instead of being a weekend activity a few times a year. That trend will continue.

Again, the only exceptions (that I see) will be: better public transportation (light rail to bring in residents in the suburbs, buses for inside the city), more on-demand services (I can't get an Uber or Lyft to bring me home, let alone pick me up, and my suburb has something like 20-30k people in it, but 5 miles past where those services will go), automated vehicles (related to on-demand), or movement back towards urban living (which can be served by the preceding + walking/biking more easily). That last one is highly unlikely due to costs, though, at least for a mass migration.


Not everybody wants to live in a hive city where you can hear your neighbors. I'm all for making cities as walkable as they can be, even ban cars from them. Just don't ever make me set foot in one again.


You don't hear your neighbors in modern buildings. But of course we won't replace all buildings in the next twenty years.


Then your choices would be rural, which I can understand, and car-centric suburbia, which seems like the worst compromise to me.. This is obviously subjective though.


Indeed. Suburbia only exists because of people like me who'd prefer to live rurally but can't make a living there. I can't have fifty acres of woods but I can have trees and grass and birds.


And huge amount of public infrastructure.


If my taxes and utility bills are not covering the cost then they should be adjusted to match.

No thanks. Parking lots are necessary to support driving, which is by a long shot the most convenient and fastest way to travel. This whole war on driving hot take is completely tired because it makes no consideration of the tradeoffs.

This article also makes vague claims of causation, and tries really hard to link the presence of parking lots to the PNW heat wave without any statistical rigor. It also then makes a misleading claim about the likelihood of increasing frequency of heat waves. The World Weather Attribution project’s own paper noted that the recent PNW heat wave would have have been a record breaking event even without climate change, and noted it as a 1 in 1000 years event.

Finally, the article seems to completely ignore the trivial solution of simply putting some shade above a parking lot. It doesn’t have to be trees - it can be reflective tarp held up by poles or a low absorption roof on a parking garage.


> No thanks. Parking lots are necessary to support driving, which is by a long shot the most convenient and fastest way to travel. This whole war on driving hot take is completely tired because it makes no consideration of the tradeoffs.

Driving is only the fastest and most convenient way to travel when you're the only one driving. In tech terms, it doesn't scale. Once you get to a certain point, you're allocating more space to wide roads, interchanges, and parking lots than to the places people are actually going.


Isn’t this the same as claiming that “driving is not the fastest mode when the city is poorly governed”? If a city is not overbuilt and overpopulated to the point where the road infrastructure is overwhelmed, then driving works really well. For the vast majority of cities, there isn’t a conceivable point where you’re dedicating more spaces to roads/lots than destinations. But even if that were the case, I have to ask “so what”. If the people living there have fast access to the things they want to do and like it, and find the benefits to be worth the trade offs, then I don’t see the problem. It feels to me like the complaints are mostly from a very active and vocal urbanist activist crowd rather than residents at large.


Charitably, this is a goofy take. Less charitably, your reference to a "vocal urbanist activist crowd" suggests that you're leaning more on partisan talking points than evidence.

More to the point, here's where this argument breaks down:

> If a city is not overbuilt and overpopulated to the point where the road infrastructure is overwhelmed

Given current demographic trends within the United States, major cities are guaranteed to see population growth beyond what current American public infrastructure can sustain.

Compounding this problem is the fact that there's significant overlap between the segment of the population which thinks that driving is a sacred right and folks who think that spending public money on efficient public transit is unacceptable.

I enjoy driving. It doesn't work for major cities. And those same cities are inevitably going to get denser if trends continue. Everyone driving his or her own car to their job (or to "the things they want to do") in the name of personal convenience is not the answer.


> Given current demographic trends within the United States, major cities are guaranteed to see population growth beyond what current American public infrastructure can sustain.

Not speaking for parent but the typical response would be "but then people should stop moving there", to which I reply that any utopia can sound good if you disregard people's incentives, desires and needs. Let me try: communism is in fact great, it's just that every time the people at the top end up corrupt for unrelated reasons.


Roads cost money to build and maintain, they cost a lot of money to build and maintain.

Those costs are paid for by destinations, as road tolls are limited in the US. At a certain point, and the evidence strongly suggests many parts of the US are past this point, you’re spending more money on road maintenance, than you’re collecting in tax from destinations.

No amount of “cars are more convenient” will change the simple economics that cars and their infrastructure are vastly more expensive than either public transport, or bike infrastructure. And based on the atrocious conditions of US roads, it seems the US can’t afford it’s car infrastructure anymore.


Firstly, I think you are mistaken about heat. It is objectively true that cities are hotter places to live in general, disregarding climate change. This is partly due to the large amount of materials which absorb heat from the sun, such as black asphalt in massive parking lots. It makes cities less pleasant, for sure.

I also don’t think you understand the “war on driving”… the point is that you have less freedom in a car dependent world. You can’t conveniently choose to walk to the grocery store a few blocks away when there are 6 lane roads which pay no respect to pedestrians. You can’t choose to take a train to a concert, since passenger trains are rarer and rarer.

You have fewer choices and less freedom if the only convenient choice is a car. And what if you don’t have or can’t get a car? Your mobility is extremely limited.

The “war on driving” is all about creating more choices and freedom for transit. It’s not saying all cars should be outlawed. It’s saying that the bus or train should be just as convenient as driving in a city, and that biking and cycling within a mile or two of home should be even more convenient than driving.

And, most importantly for you, in a city where everyone has many transit choices, driving is much more pleasant. With fewer people driving cars for trips that don’t really need them, there will be less traffic and less need for massive roads which are dangerous even for drivers. This video is very illuminating: https://youtu.be/d8RRE2rDw4k

In fact, I’d recommend watching even more videos on that channel to really understand why having more alternatives to cars is a good thing.


The article is about building parking lots that are unnecessarily large (overbuilding) due to regulatory mandates, rather than building too many parking lots. This argument has little to do with a war on cars, and scholars (including conservative, car-agnostic scholars) had been making it long before zoning became yet another culture war battleground.


I own two large cars to ferry my kids around the city and have enough time to get anything else done in a day. I hate that I need a car to do that and a backup in case one breaks down. I’d rather not have any cars and be able to use public transit. Alas, everybody has a car, so public transit is crap, because not enough people care. This causes a feedback loop, which in extreme cases in USA creates neighborhoods you can’t walk out of: I’ve been to a place literally surrounded by highways. The only way to leave was by car.


> This whole war on driving hot take is completely tired because it makes no consideration of the tradeoffs.

The only reason driving is convenient is because you make no consideration for your externalities.

Noise, killing 38,000 people a year in crashes, 400 billion/year on road construction and maintenance, pollution killing people who live near highways, trillion-dollar imperial adventures to secure foreign oil, city designs that are absolutely unlivable without a car that costs ~$3,500/year to own and maintain...


Those externalities are minor compared to the massive utility we derive from being able to travel point to point at high speeds on our own schedule. In my opinion the reverse of what you say is true - it is fashionable for urbanists to claim these externalities are big when it is clear the time saved across the hundreds of millions who drive in the US alone is much larger in magnitude. The numbers you quote aren’t very meaningful without context. For example, 38000 road deaths doesn’t seem like much when you consider that there is only ~1 death for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled - and that number is going to keep falling as safety tech becomes more standardized. I also simply can’t take a claim like “city designs that are absolutely unlivable” seriously. Plenty of people live and thrive in car centric cities just fine, so this is clearly hyperbole.


It is actually possible to be able to travel point to point on your own schedule in the same small amount of time without all those externalities. See Dutch cities like Utrecht and Amsterdam. Where everything is a bike ride away.


As someone who has spent a lot of time in the Netherlands, this is simply not true. “Everything” is not a bike ride away. You’re equating a severely limited life to one with a lot more access and freedom to chose from more than what is just immediately nearby. It’s simply not the same thing. I’m glad for the people who are content with such a set up, but it’s not for everyone. For me, I found Amsterdam tremendously boring after a short time because of the relatively limited choice of activities compared to a car-centric US cities where intraday travel over longer distances is trivial. I would also say that the claim that you can travel in the “same small amount of time” is factually incorrect for other reasons. A one mile bike ride is simply not going to be faster than a 1 mile drive unless you’re in a city where they have overbuilt or have tremendously lagging driving infrastructure. I can only see the two being approximately the same for very short trips.


> after a short time because of the relatively limited choice of activities compared to a car-centric US cities where intraday travel over longer distances is trivial

Within an hour, you could have been in Utrecht, The Hague, Rotterdam, Haarlem, by public transport.

Let's put it this way: you could be in front of Rembrandt's Night watch at the Rijksmuseum, and within 1h15 minutes, be in front of Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring in an entirely different city 60 km south, without breaking a sweat. Two of the greatest pieces of art.

Hell you could be in Brussels within two hours. London or Paris in four hours. You could have your breakfast by a canal in Amsterdam, your lunch in front of the Eiffel tower, and dinner by Big Ben.

But somehow, that's boring because it doesn't involve a car?


I'm pretty sure a 1 mile bike ride is always faster than a 1 mile car ride unless you have empty roads and parking spaces right in front of the entrance. You can very easily cycle a mile in traffic in around five minutes (some people can run it in 4 minutes!). A car in very light traffic takes maybe two minutes for the same distance if there are no traffic lights at all. That doesn't leave much time for parking and walking from the parking spot to where you actually want to be.

Anecdotally, I'm faster on my bike on almost all trips that are shorter than about 7km, and a majority of the trips of up to 10km. Only then does a car really start to save time. And then you realize that many 10km trips could be 7km trips if the city hadn't used so much space for car infrastructure.


The Netherlands is the flattest country in the world. Of course bicycles are convenient there. Try biking around San Francisco where there are ski-jump sized hills everywhere.


The Netherlands are quite windy, but both wind and hills are negated by electric bicycles.


There's a shopping centre carpark here in South Australia where the shade structures are solar panels. Useful for customers in rain or heat, and obviously practical beyond that. You can see it here, plus the panels on the shopping centre also.

https://binged.it/3nIyoRV (Bing, since Google Maps has old imagery)


Looking around that map it’s surprising to see just how many buildings of all sizes have solar panels fitted. Impressive!


In that suburb, 41% of residential properties have solar. In my area (a couple of kilometres away) it's about 45%. The payback period is very favourable even without a reduction in feed-in tariffs, last I checked. So the hold-outs might include people expecting to sell their house within a few years, renters, etc.

Data from: https://pv-map.apvi.org.au/historical#10/-34.9043/138.6463

And it should be even more attractive for commercial properties operating and running A/C or heating during peak sunlight time.


> which is by a long shot the most convenient and fastest way to

scorch the earth. there, fixed it for you.




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