ITE takes on parking minimums and manuals

By Saumya Jain

Once considered a pure public good, parking is now known as a public problem as well. Among other drawbacks, it occupies valuable land and curb space, and it encourages auto trips and emissions, in part by spreading out destinations so that non-auto travel is difficult.

The Institute of Traffic Engineers—whose Parking Generation Manual once epitomized the more-is-better approach to parking—in February’s ITE Journal describes thoughtful new approaches for better managing parking supply and incorporating more active transportation and transit trips. Highlights of the issue include:

Figure 1. ITE Journal notes the waning of the parking minimum in local regulations. Separately, the Strong Towns group provides this map of cities where parking minimums are either partially or completely removed or are under scrutiny.

  • A farewell to minimum off-street parking requirements. Chrissy Mancini Nichols of Walker Consultants argues that, as in the cities shown in the map above, removing parking minimums should be standard policy in over the next few years. Nichols writes:

    “In today’s world, with alternative modes of transportation and transit ridership as key policy goals, and where shared parking is becoming necessary to accommodate new destinations, parking minimums appear to be inflexible relics from a bygone era. Ultimately, removing minimums will have widespread benefits for urban planning, development, and the quality of life in our communities.”

    ITE will also focus its next steps towards further improving the accuracy of parking estimates by conducting multi-variable analysis, identifying new land uses, continuing to partner with other organizations.

  • A description of the Fifth Edition of the ITE Parking Generation Manual (PGM). This manual, which has historically been problematic in justifying excessive off-street parking requirements, shows significant improvement in the content and capabilities. With 60 percent new data and additional land use analysis capabilities, the new edition is a much more flexible tool, addressing the dynamic nature of parking demand. It categorizes parking estimates in four settings based on potential for walking, biking, and transit trips: Center City Core, Dense Multi-Use Urban, General Urban/Suburban, and Rural. The fifth edition also provides a detailed analysis of parking demand fluctuation for different land uses by time of the day, day of week, as well as seasonal fluctuation.
  • A preview of a new shared parking manual. Often nearby land uses can share parking capacity, but the rules for sharing aren’t always clear. The ITE staff coordinated the parking demand data collection and analysis with the National Parking Association and its development of Shared Parking, third edition, which is scheduled to be released soon. The new guide intends to facilitate a “Just enough, no regrets” parking supply and will include time of day parking estimates from the PGM to avoid providing excessive parking for mixed land uses. It will also include regional variations and future projections based on expected mobility changes due to autonomous vehicles and transportation network companies, e.g. Uber and Lyft.

Saumya Jain is a Senior Associate at SSTI.