blackfridayThere’s a fine internet cottage industry taking photos of buses under certain conditions (generally at off-peak times and near the end of a route) to show that they are “empty.”  To flip the script a bit, Strong Towns asked people to photograph the parking lot of their local shopping center or mall during Black Friday — which should be the highest parking demand of the year.

Now obviously there’s no way to verify that these photos are of reasonable dates and times for Black Friday peak demand, local economic conditions may vary, some stores are simply struggling, and there are almost certainly lots elsewhere in the nation that are full. Nevertheless, the minimum sizes of these lots are often mandated by local regulations, resulting in astounding wastes of space most of the time.

10 Replies to “#BlackFridayParking”

  1. It’s an interesting idea, but I find that these holiday weekends are the only times that most malls and big box stores actually use their parking capacity.

    The point should be that most parking spots sit empty most of the time. They build for peak capacity leaving acres of empty concrete throughout most of every day. And, driveways sit empty for all the time that people are at work.

    For that matter, ever been out driving around three in the morning? There are a lot of empty roads.

    1. The/your point is rather pointless. Parking is just one example of many things that sity empty because of excess capacity most of the time. How often do you use all of the burners on your stove? How often does is every seat/table in a restaurant going fully used? Maybe a few hours once a week right?

      The actual point of this post is that they have lots and garages that are never at peak capacity. That’s a much more interesting point than parking lots sitting empty most of the time, these ones apparently see empty all of the time.

  2. Love the idea. Thanks for sharing.

    Not that much of this parking wouldn’t be built anyway without regulation, but at least they’d be allowed to. Right now if you want to build a store you need to find a much larger piece of land than you actually need for the store, just for parking that may (or obviously may not) be needed one day per year.

  3. I’m not saying that parking lots are examples of good land use, but most transportation infrastructure is “empty” most of the time. Excess capacity is an unfortunate but necessary part of nearly every transportation system. Rail lines almost never have trains on the them, but I wouldn’t say they are wasted space. Sidewalks, bus lanes, and bike paths are mostly empty too. Empty parking spaces are kind of like headways between trains – less is better, but they can’t go to zero or the system stops working.

    As far as full lots, grocery stores on Sunday afternoons are pretty bad. As a pedestrian it is not fun to walk through crowded parking lots to get to the store. Ironically, stores with underground parking have better pedestrian access because store entrances are oriented to the sidewalk, not the parking lot.

    1. Yes, much transportation infrastructure is empty much of the time. Parking lots have particularly large impacts on how today’s cities work, yet they tend to be particularly unexamined, leading to particularly thoughtless policy surrounding them. Turning some attention to parking is probably a good thing.

      (hash tag downtown seattle parking stall cap)

    1. Black Friday was a big deal when major sales were only on Friday. Now they have spread out to Thursday or the weekend or longer, plus online shopping is increasing. Old Navy was Thursday-Friday. Costco was Friday-Sunday.

  4. The only good thing about urban parking lots is that they’re a clean slate for redevelopment. It’s easier to build when there’s no permanent residents or businesses to kick out.

  5. Well, at least the urban parking is urban.

    On Thursday night there was a five mile long backup of cars on Interstate 5 at the Woodburn Factory Stores. When it was built it was a long way to even get to Woodburn from there. Now they are having to do their third rebuild of the freeway interchange there.

    Never been in there and have no interest in ever going.

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