I recieved this email from TM reader Gerardo Vildostegui:

Dear Transit Miami,

I hope you’ll consider writing a reply to this column by Daniel Shoer Roth.

Shoer Roth is a friend of mass transit and has written often (mostly in El Nuevo Herald) about the problems with sprawl and with auto-oriented development in South Florida.  But this article seems to suggest that what Miami Beach needs is more parking–which can’t be right.  If you can bring him over to the anti-parking viewpoint that would be a huge win.

Thanks Gerardo. Daniel, who is a friend of Transit Miami and usually a great advocate for transit, falls into a trap familiar to neighborhood groups and civic leaders alike: blaming parking supply for problems that come along with urban development. Let’s get this out of the way: the problem with the cost of parking on Miami Beach is not that there is not enough parking, but that there is no other viable way for people to get around without a car.

Now to explain: it seems counter intuitive, but a similar logic applies to parking supply as to road traffic volume: there is a finite capacity, so we need to be proactive in setting the level of parking we want based on established data and goals, not simply as a knee-jerk reaction to the perception of expensive parking. Comparatively speaking, parking in Miami Beach should be more expensive than it is when one accounts for the hidden costs of car ownership (such as pollution, decreased quality of life, pedestrian and cyclist death/injury, blight in communities affected by highways..etc),- not to mention the fact that the initial cost of constructing parking is subsidized in some way by the consumer.

In his seminal work “The High Cost of Free Parking” parking guru Donald Shoup describes the problem best:

Parking is free to the driver for most vehicle trips. Free, but not cheap. According to evaluations by Mark Delucchi of the University of California at Davis, we spend about as much to subsidize off-street parking as we do on Medicare or national defense. The additional driving encouraged by free parking also increases traffic congestion, air pollution and accidents. To fuel this extra driving, we import more oil, and pay for it with borrowed money.

Daniel does what many normal people do, which is to take aim at the problem of parking and its cost by blaming “the lack of development regulations” rather than addressing  the fundamental problem which is the lack of transit infrastructure. We have seen what the future looks like when we oversupply cheap parking: Dadeland Mall circa 1975 – parking lot city.

Daniel the real answer to your ‘parking crisis’ lies not with regulating development, as advocate Frank DelVecchio suggested in your column, but with the future of the stagnant People’s Transportation Plan, and how the lack of a new agenda for PTP expansion has led the feds to pass us over on (potentially) the biggest federal investment in urban mass transit in twenty years.

The real question you should be asking is what happened to Bay Link, and are we ever going to have a functional transit system?

Transportation infrastructure is all connected. Parking, roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, highways, metro-rail – they are all interconnected, and cannot be adjusted piecemeal without affecting the entire system. Most of our mobility problems have to do with lack of transit options.

The real lesson to be learned from Daniel’s parking crisis is that infrastructure is expensive. Someone has to pay for infrastructure – if the end user doesn’t pay, then who foots the bill? Cash strapped cities are going to be less likely to fund transit expansions without a change in the way we pay for/ value transit service.  We should be setting the value of transit, as we do with parking – only in a way that reflects its cost. Daniel doesn’t want to pay for parking what is costs, only what he deems it to be worth – which is not much, yet we charge him for it anyway. Why not do the same for transit?  If we charged for transit what it was worth – and provided a better experience for the end user – we would have a much more successful transit system.

Not to mention people like Daniel would have a solution to their parking crisis – take the train!

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5 Responses to Oh the Humanity!

  1. @j2dahizzay says:

    I have the best plan, however super progressive it may appear, that will work. All cars find a “transition station” on the main land. The transition station is a place where gas powered, private, motor vehicles are abandoned and swapped for “beachside” friendly golf carts. Commercial vehicles are still permitted to cross the causeway(business as usual.) Golf carts have a max speed of <20mph. Commercial vehicles use Alton Rd while golf carts use Ocean and Washington. Pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers/skateboarders now have plenty of freedom to commute safely. Less pollution on the beach allows for a quality "al fresco" dining experience. Less noise pollution from obnoxious combustion engines. All around much friendlier place to be. Again, taxis, buses, and delivery trucks allowed but highly taxed. think about it. I proposed the samething when I resided on Sanibel/Captiva Islands. They liked the taxing part. Now it is $6 dollars to take your vehicle to those islands.

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  2. Jeffrey Bradley says:

    Thanx, Tony! My SunPost Politics column this week will channel that Herald parking article and reflect alot of what you say. I’m trying to rock n’roll ‘em here on the Beach on a weekly basis over their ingrained, outmoded autocentricity, aka the Dermerite Suburbanite mentality.

    Keep up the good work!

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  3. brody says:

    What ever did happen to Baylink? Was it Miami Beach that killed the plans for it or was it funding? Why can’t it be resurrected and brought to the federal level for funding?

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  4. Prem says:

    Golfcarts are a bit farfetched mr. hizzay
    but perhaps if there were better ways to get around using public transportation cars could simply be banned on miami beach :D
    hahahahaha.

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  5. Anthony says:

    I support public transportation, bike lanes, and other methods of alternative transportation. But, as a small businessman(1 man company) I find that raising the cost of parking is not the way to go about it. There does need to be more parking on the beach because it is not just us locals that go there. It is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the United states, so you have to be able to have enough parking and roads for those people that come down to support our tourist economy down here. Also, for lots of people it is not practical to use a bicycle or other human powered vehicles to get to their jobs and clients. Then there is the problem of the arrogance and stupidity of the drivers down here as well.

    That being said, I’m all for limiting the speed of cars by narrowing the lanes and having bike lanes put on the roads as they are being repaved.

    There has got to be a way to find a middle ground between the car culture and the alternative transportation culture where everyone may not be happy but could live with it.

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