Fun Facts – Parking

According to the California Highway Patrol, in 2008 there were 5,859,407 cars registered in Los Angeles County. If the average car takes up 119 square feet of space, that means that cars alone – not roads, parking lots, or any other automobile infrastructure, just the cars sitting still – take up 25 square miles of Los Angeles County. For context, consider that the land area of the island of Manhattan in New York City is 22 square miles.

Roughly 1.6 million people live in the space used just to park Los Angeles County’s cars.
When does a Prius cause just as much environmental damage as an SUV? The 95% of the time it’s parked.

(via The Source)

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2 comments so far

  1. Dan Gutierrez on

    Question: “When does a Prius cause just as much environmental damage as an SUV?”
    .
    Wrong answer: “The 95% of the time it’s parked.”
    .
    Correct answer: Never (unless there is a tiny SUV that I don’t know about that has the same footprint as the prius), becasue the footprint is smaller, so the Priius or any other small car is less environmentally damaging than a typical SUV by the fractional area that its fotprint is smaller. Smaller cars take up les space when parked on-street, require smaller parking stalls, home driveways, etc., and require less recycling and use less resources (and less mas to accelerate) over their life cycle. And this has nothing to do with the small car being a prius, since a geo metro, or a SmartCar is even more space and resource efficient.

    Let’s not over-generalize, OK?

  2. maxutility on

    I was, of course, generalizing a bit. But my broader point is about the ancillary costs of cars that exist regardless of what specific kind of car you drive. If parking spots, driveways, freeway lanes, etc. dynamically adjusted their size to fit the car, your point would be right on. But we generally build infrastructure to fit the largest likely occupant. For instance, building codes typically specify the number of spots that must be provided, not square footage.

    We tend to focus on fuel economy as the measure of the environmental impact of a vehicle. But it is easy to forget that many of the “costs” of cars are in the way they use space. There are large financial, urban design, livibility, walkability, and other impacts from designing around a car centric transport system. Smaller cars are better, but they don’t fundamentally change the equation.

    Thanks for calling me out on my overly broad claim though! These are complex issues.


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