When asked about what cities like Winnipeg get wrong about parking, Donald Shoup is frank — "most things."
Shoup is a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles and the author of two books on parking, The High Cost of Free Parking and Parking and the City.
He will be in Winnipeg Thursday to speak about ways he believes cities can rethink and transform parking policies so they are more equitable. The Green Action Centre and Downtown Winnipeg BIZ are hosting the keynote at the RBC Convention Centre.
"I’m not going to tell Winnipeg what to do… but what I’m going to talk about is reforms other cities have been making and that have worked out very well and I think Winnipeg should consider offering them," Shoup said.
His recommendations? Charge fair prices for on-street parking, use city parking profits to invest in metered neighbourhoods and remove city bylaws around parking requirements for different buildings.
Cities in the United States, including Buffalo, Hartford, Minneapolis and San Francisco, have adopted his reforms.
Shoup is in favour of a "graduated parking fine" system, where cities hand out a warning on a first offence and begin ticketing drivers with incrementally higher fees after each repeated offence.
"A small number of repeat violators are responsible for most of the tickets," he said.
"Without really penalizing the occasional violator — all of us can make a mistake — it focuses on hitting the serial offenders and keeping them accountable."
This method also allows for leeway with visitors who might not understand a city’s parking system and could be deterred from returning if they get a ticket, Shoup added.
As far as he’s concerned, cities should not rely on parking fines to raise money since that requires people to violate laws.
Rather, he said, cities should adjust prices depending on demand in a given area and on the time of day.
That will ensure there are some spots available at all times and relieve stress motorists face when searching for a spot, he said.
The professor is also a staunch supporter of getting rid of all off-street parking requirements, so that no establishments are required to have a certain number of spaces.
"I think a city where everybody happily pays for everybody’s free parking is a fool’s paradise," he said, adding that patrons who do not drive to a restaurant, for instance, should not have to pay extra for their meal to make up for the price a restaurant has to pay to maintain a parking lot.
In Winnipeg, a restaurant or club requires one spot per 100 square feet of floor area inside.
By getting rid of such requirements, cities can open up space for development and encourage active transportation modes, Shoup said. He applauds Vancouver’s policies on limiting off-street parking and Montreal’s tax on surface parking lots in its downtown.
In downtown Winnipeg, parking ranges from $2.50 to $3.50 an hour during weekdays. Parking is free after 5:30 p.m. on those days, as well as on Sundays and holidays. Motorists receive two hours complimentary on Saturdays during the day.
Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.