Sorry, Your Cheap Parking Space Isn't the Most Important Thing on the Planet

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 13 2013 3:24 PM

Sorry, Your Cheap Parking Space Isn't the Most Important Thing on the Planet

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Yellow jersey Alexandre Vinokourov from Kazakhstan competes in the individual time trial during the 63rd Criterium du Dauphine cycling race third stage on June 8, 2011 in Grenoble.

Photo by PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images

"Any option is going to have to not affect parking."

That's Jeremy Leffler of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B02 talking about the idea of adding bike lanes to a particular stretch of 11th Street in Washington, D.C., but it could be basically any speaker at any community meeting on any subject in any American city. And it's insane. And it needs to stop.

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Obviously people who currently get to occupy valuable urban space with their private vehicles would like to keep that privilege. But by the same token, I'd love it for the city government to just give me a free car or stop charging me property tax. That doesn't mean it would be a good idea. There may be an argument that 30 to 40 parking spaces for cars is a better use for a given piece of land than protected bicycle lanes, but "Waaaah, don't affect my parking" is not a very persuasive argument. The streets are public spaces and they need to be used for public benefit, not just the benefit of whoever happens to own a car on the block.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.