There is little knowledge of how lowering parking requirements for housing affects parking, car use, car ownership and residents’ daily lives.
This project examines the consequences of a municipal parking policy undergoing change, which includes lowered parking requirements.
The effects of lowered parking requirements are studied by analysing the consequences for residents in the centrally located, relatively newly built housing area of Porslinsfabriken in Gothenburg.
Porslinsfabriken, with its relatively low parking requirement of 0.57 places per apartment, is a good example of a parking policy being introduced in a growing number of Swedish municipalities. The present analysis is based on a survey and interviews with residents.
The results show that most residents rent parking spaces from the private housing cooperative. Those who rent spaces in this way and those who park elsewhere have parking spaces close to their home. Those who do not rent from the cooperative have no difficulty in finding parking. Car ownership has declined for 19 percent of households, while a quarter drive less frequently because of parking opportunities.
However, the majority have not altered their car ownership or car use. There are few differences between groups with different occupations, education, age, gender and/or family situation as regards car ownership, car use or the consequences of parking for everyday life. Moreover, the number of cars owned by households is not related to whether or not they rent parking spaces from the private housing cooperative. Most are satisfied with the parking situation, but there are some who are very dissatisfied and claim that parking has major consequences for their daily lives. However, the problems cited are more of a practical nature, such as break-ins, malfunctioning garage doors, narrow parking spaces etc., and do not concern the parking requirement itself.
Overall, the parking requirement of 0.57 for this centrally located housing area with good public transport, close proximity to services and good opportunities for cycling, walking and using public transport has allowed car use to be decreased. People living in Porslinsfabriken have no major problems with parking and in practice the requirement imposes no restriction on the number of parking spaces. The range of parking available in the immediate area gives residents a choice of parking spaces. The majority of residents commute by private car as before, and many others have kept their cars. The parking requirement could therefore have been lower.
However, the results show the importance of adopting an overarching approach in parking policy to achieve the aim of reduced car use. A practical implication of the results is that a lower parking requirement for construction of new apartment blocks must be accompanied by a well-coordinated battery of other measures, such as good access to public transport, higher parking charges, a reduction in public parking spaces etc. Another lesson is that it is important for municipalities to try to solve problems of a practical nature that fall within their jurisdiction.