Feeding the meters

A fascinating look at parking meters – where they came from – and why they are necessary – can be found in this article by Hunter Oatman-Stanford.

“A 2011 report called “Europe’s Parking U-Turn” by Michael Kodransky and Gabrielle Hermann states that ‘every car trip begins and ends in a parking space, so parking regulation is one of the best ways to regulate car use.'”

Here’s some history from the article that you might not be aware of:

“Segrave notes that by 1920, city traffic jams were commonplace due to bountiful free parking without legal restrictions to encourage turnover. Street parking spaces were typically occupied by commuting workers, leading to snail-paced traffic and frequent double-parking as daytime drivers fought for the few spaces vacated during business hours. In many urban centers, more street space was filled with parked cars than moving ones. Unfortunately, most city leaders didn’t turn to mass transit as a solution to increased congestion, and actually used gridlock on downtown streets, frequently due to street parking, as an excuse to tear up efficient commuter tracks and inner-city rail systems.”

“The most visible instance of such degradation was the General Motors streetcar scandal: Beginning in the late 1930s, several automobile-related businesses, including GM, Firestone, and Standard Oil, created front companies to purchase and dismantle rail-based transit systems, especially inner city tramways, and replace them with less efficient bus lines. In 1949, the companies would be convicted of a conspiracy to monopolize transportation, but the damage was already done.”

It’s important to look back to see exactly how we got here.

Jan

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