A big thank you to everyone who stepped outside on Friday to photograph the wasteful presence of excessive parking in your towns for our annual #BlackFridayParking event. We saw so many examples of unused parking in towns large and small, at strip malls, at big box stores, and at shopping centers.
Your photographs made the definitive point that, if on this most popular shopping day of the year, we still can't manage to fill those parking spots, we have overbuilt our parking lots and garages far beyond what could ever possibly be needed.
Here are some of the best photos from #BlackFridayParking this year:
We pay an enormous cost to have unneeded & unused parking spaces. That's true whether or not you personally take advantage of that handout. Help push back on the cultural consensus that you simply can't have enough parking. #PlaidFriday #Syracuse #BlackFridayparking pic.twitter.com/Odn0cFKiE2— Chris Fowler (@ChrisH_Fowler) November 24, 2017
We are working in the postwar strip all throughout the Midwest. It is a relic of an outmoded, overbuilt way of doing one-and-done business. Here’s an image from one of our areas on #BlackFridayParking in #JeffersonvilleIN. It’s time for a new model. pic.twitter.com/5fxiB3L66q— Joe Nickol (@J_Nickol) November 25, 2017
#blackfridayparking About 9,500 parking spaces surround Destiny USA mall in Syracuse, NY. Only 1,000 or so unfilled today! Of course, as I rode my bike around the parking lot, there were lots of people driving around close to the mall waiting for someone to leave a spot. pic.twitter.com/oFjIY9o89l— Kathryn S. Downing (@KSimmonsD1) November 24, 2017
In addition to these examples of the typical suburban-style parking lots, a couple Strong Towns members got creative with their photos.
Bruce Nesmith posted a picture of an abandoned big box store's parking lot. At first glance, this might seem beside the point of the #BlackFridayParking exercise. Of course an empty store would also have an empty lot. But look a little closer and you'll realize this is exactly the point.
Many of the malls and shops pictured in the images above are hanging on by a thread. Check back in with them for #BlackFridayParking 2018 and some will undoubtedly be closed. Not only will they leave behind a dilapidated building that's unlikely to be repurposed for anything else, they'll also leave behind a vast wasteland of asphalt. That makes the oversized nature of their parking lots even more problematic. One vacant store on Main Street can sit empty for a few months or even years without damaging the tax base or appeal of the surrounding street very much. On the other hand, an abandoned big box store leaves an entire city block (or sometimes several blocks) completely empty and neglected:
Meanwhile, our friend Monte Anderson (who was recently featured on the Strong Towns podcast to talk about parking and small scale development) posted this photo to show how the traditional main street model contrasts with the suburban mall/big box model:
This year, many news headlines focused on the growth of online shopping, suggesting that the "need" for parking is getting even smaller. Now more than ever, it's time to rethink our parking policies and start putting this wasted land to better use. Learn more about how to end parking minimums.