If you live in a city where parking is scarce, you won't like hearing this. MIT Professor Eran Ben-Joseph has written a book titled Rethinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, and the gist is that the U.S. has far too many parking spaces.

Ben-Joseph estimates that there are 800 million parking spots across the U.S., taking up enough space to cover Puerto Rico in asphalt. In fact, Ben-Joseph says that many large cities have up to one third of their overall space dedicated to parking.

So what's wrong with a glut of parking lots? For starters, they're made of asphalt, which absorbs energy from the sun, which warms the ambient temperature. The lots also lead to faster water runoff, which hurts the ability of plants to remove toxins from the air.

The book doesn't paint parking lots in a positive light, but we're guessing there isn't much that will be done to change the issue, at least in the short term. We are, after all, a country of auto owners, and we need a place to park our four-wheeled friends. And it's not like we're going to replace open lots with a glut of parking structures, since those can cost four times as much money to build.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 70 Comments
      pinetree
      • 2 Years Ago
      There are 800 million parking spaces in a nation with 313 million people. That's about 2.5 parking spaces for every man, woman and child in the US. This seems a little absurb to me.
        pinetree
        • 2 Years Ago
        @pinetree
        Make that absurd... Considering that many parking lots are made of asphalt, I wonder how many barrels of oil are contained in those parking lots. I wonder how efficiently that oil can be extracted and if it could be made useful.
      Ali Zein Yousuf
      • 2 Years Ago
      Bring on the parking decks. I hate surface lots. You have to walk 20 years to get into the store, your car is super heated upon your return, and its a pain in the ass to actually find a spot. Parking decks are great because they fill in a much more logical fashion, have a very clear traffic flow, and your car is blocked from the sun.
      Chris
      • 2 Years Ago
      How is it that a nation with 313 million people has 800 million parking spaces? The number of drivers has to be far less than that. Even when considering all of the parking decks and parking lots that are bigger than they need to be most days, parks, schools all of the unoccupied/under-occupied malls, strip malls, and other businesses, that number is still higher than I would have guessed.
        IBx27
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Chris
        There's fleet vehicles, trucking spots, and like you said, unoccupied spaces at shopping complexes. It's a massive gap to fill, but don't forget, our population is closer to 400 million these days.
      Radwon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yeah, I'm all for parking garages too but I love the big parking lots in America. When people visit America, they come back impressed about the size of car parking lots there. Saying how we should do that. Here in Australia they have Car Park Garages everywhere. They charge you to park in the Mall Parking garages and they try to jam in as many spots in as possible to the point you can't open your door past the first 'notch'. You find yourself driving around trying to find a spot and when you do you find that someone has parked so close to the line you can't get in or out of the car so you move on. America has the land, might as well use it.
      turbomonkey2k
      • 2 Years Ago
      Autonomous cars are coming to resolve this problem. 20 years from now most people will have a difficult time remembering what it was like to find a parking space. Most people will arrive at their destination and get out of the car which will then proceed to the nearest parking center with space available. When you're ready to leave just message your car to pick you up and it do so.
      Arturo Rios Jr.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Solution? Pretty simple, Use that technology that absorbs heat and converts it to energy, expensive yes. Knowing some my geek professors at the university, this guy probably rides a bicycle to work everyday, and has some kind of hybrid vehicle as well.
      PiCASSO
      • 2 Years Ago
      One long front overhang from that Audi (S4 or S5?)...
        questionlp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PiCASSO
        That's an Audi S5 coupé. I have one in the same colour :)
      genelamont
      • 2 Years Ago
      They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. Oh-la-la. Lol. But how about covering the lots, car-port style, with green space or solar panels.
      NexWest
      • 2 Years Ago
      Actually as asphalt ages it becomes lighter in color and thus it reflects some of the sunlight cutting down on the "heat island" effect that makes urban areas warmer at night. But to make matters worse, parking lot operators feel compelled to "paint" their lots black using seal coating which is nothing but bottom of the barrel bunker oil. Not only does this stuff stink for months, it causes water pollution and brings the asphalt back to absorbing the maximum amount of heat. Besides there is actually no proof that seal coating preserves the asphalt. If it did work, wouldn't our streets be seal coated every few years?
      RobbieP
      • 2 Years Ago
      Another out of touch professor no doubt a global warming believer ... go move to London where finding a parking spot is damn nigh impossible. Me I'll stay in LA where, Thank God, there is still parking spaces! Crap like this makes me puke!
        Toddley
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RobbieP
        People in London have no problem with the parking they have. They use public transportation. LA? Hahahahaha. Your freeways are parking lots themselves.
          g.torino
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Toddley
          because they live like slaves. dont own any wheels of their own - low lifes.
          g.torino
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Toddley
          Oh and their bosses own Bentleys and Maybacks. Actually the rich wants the masses to not use cars so they'll have all the globe for them selfs one all the masses empty the roads.
          Michael S
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Toddley
          I don't know; it seems like more people are slaves to their cars instead. When folks need to drive three miles to buy a gallon of milk, when folks spend a quarter of their income just to get from A-to-B (because they spent half their income trying to afford a house in a tract accessible only by car), it's no wonder why so many Americans have huge amounts of debt. The problem with free parking and freeways is the freeloader mentality. Because it's there and because it's "free," people will use it until it has reached beyond capacity. It's time to start charging MORE for driving (while providing alternatives) so that our roads can have less congestion and be used by those who are willing to PAY for the experience (enthusiasts or rich people).
        Auctiontommy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RobbieP
        Go back and watch fox news. So you dont care about the enviroment?? You dont want fresh clean water? (which living in a desert like you is some what important). Global warming isnt the only issue. There is a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, poisoned water ways all across the nation, toxic super fund site, and smog.
        lasertekk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RobbieP
        He's a scientist?
      ctsmith1066
      • 2 Years Ago
      Parking structures (and/or underground parking) are indeed more expensive initially to build, but they can be a good source of revenue for cash-strapped municipalities. But there is another, much better solution. This won't go over well on a site like Autoblog, but the truth is that people shouldn't drive as much as they do. Public transportation has many *many* benefits over everyone driving.
        John S
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ctsmith1066
        And living in neighborhoods where its easy to walk to things. It is so nice to go out to dinner and have a few drinks, walk home, and not worry about parking, DUI stops, etc. The problem isn't parking lots per se, its the whole built environment.
      g.torino
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wonder what kind of transportation Ben-Joseph the RETARD uses to get anywhere. He shouldn't be useing any type of transportation that requires any type of asphalt. If this idot is using any type of transport other than walking, he is a hypocrate. Okay this retard makes a 'green' point. It makes sense in a fantacy world. Does he recommend an alternative?
        Auctiontommy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @g.torino
        I like how you say that, yet you may be the most uneducated person on here. Where is you MIT degree?? What research have you done? He wasnt advocating an asphalt free world you "RETARD" he was just stating facts. Im sorry facts are so foreign to you.
        mawhalen53
        • 2 Years Ago
        @g.torino
        What are you so mad about?
        Firefly
        • 2 Years Ago
        @g.torino
        Are you okay? Do you need a cookie or something?
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