San Francisco drivers still park on congested blocks despite variable pricing

Even though parking can be significantly cheaper on adjacent blocks, people keep parking in the same spots, regardless of cost. That’s the conclusion after the most recent adjustment in an innovative program to even out parking demand in San Francisco.

An article out of Washington, DC, examines how the program is working so far. The objective is to reduce parking congestion in high-demand areas and encourage parking in underutilized areas. Sometimes these two zones are only a block apart, but the same blocks are still congested or relatively empty, even after the parking rates are adjusted to reflect demand.

It is still unclear if the higher rates are encouraging turnover, thereby making the spaces available to more people, as suggested by Donald Shoup, project advisor and author of The High Cost of Free Parking. But the program may tell us as much about human behavior as congestion management.