Can businesses survive without car parking?

Summary:Shutting down parking along a busy commercial corridor can't be good for business, right? Not so fast. It might actually have the opposite effect.

Shutting down parking along a busy commercial corridor can't be good for business, right?

Not so fast says Aaron Bialick at Streetsblog. It might actually have the opposite effect. He points to a recent example in San Francisco's Chinatown. Parking was closed along the Stockton Street corridor to repurposed parking lanes to give more room to merchants and shoppers. Here's Bialick on the outcome:

If the still-overcrowded sidewalks were any indication, the parking didn’t seem to be missed.

“If anything, we’ve benefited from it,” said Brian Kan of Pacific Seafood Trading Company, who was selling groceries from a stand off the curb like many other merchants. “We think it’s brought us a lot of business, actually, instead of losing business. And it’s a great way for us to interact with the people walking around, too.”

Of course, this wouldn't be the case in a car-dependent strip mall. But when it comes to dense urban areas connected by transit, why is so much priority given to the car? In the dense Chinatown District, Bialick points out that a "disproportionate amount of real estate is devoted to moving and storing cars" even though the city has a 17 percent car-ownership rate and Chinatown, specifically, sees 2,000 pedestrians per hour.

In this case, parking for parking's sake doesn't make sense, and it may actually hurt businesses.

Chinatown Businesses Thrive During a Week Without Car Parking [Streetsblog]

Photo: geekstinkbreath/Flickr

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter.

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