Black Friday Parking 2024: Help Us Turn Bad Land Use Into Better Policy

This year we are partnering with Strong Towns for the #BlackFridayParking social media campaign. Join PRN in challenging excessive and costly parking mandates!

This article was written by Ben Abramson and originally published by Strong Towns.

(Source: Flickr/Justin F. Campbell.)

Black Friday is the day that reveals one of the worst flaws in the American landscape: We have way too much parking. Every year, on the biggest retail shopping day of the season, an observer can find vast swaths of parking at retail locations vacant. Strong Towns and our members and allies document this disconnect using the hashtag #BlackFridayParking. This year’s campaign brings together more than a dozen organizations, advocates, and influencers on social media to draw attention to how wasteful and destructive parking requirements are marring our landscapes and making our places less productive. 

Parking mandates, which require developers to provide a certain number of parking spaces for each project, play out in many undesirable ways for North America’s towns and cities. Residential parking requirements make it prohibitively expensive to build small-scale housing. Commercial mandates impede many small businesses, even ones that expect more business from customers without cars.

But nowhere are these policies more egregious, and visually striking, than in parking at large-scale commercial developments, such as shopping centers and big-box stores. As Strong Towns has shown over the years, thousands of acres have been paved over to prepare for a mythical maximum number of shoppers on Black Friday. From a municipality’s perspective, this land is completely unproductive and may become a liability. 

“Cities have parking mandates because they want to make sure there’s enough parking for a Taylor Swift concert, or for busy shopping days. Black Friday comes but once a year, and Taylor Swift once a lifetime. But parking mandates make our lives worse all year,” says Tony Jordan of the Parking Reform Network, which will be reporting and commenting on Black Friday parking on its social feeds.  

Other Strong Towns allies that will be active this year using #BlackFridayParking include Alan Fisher, YouTuber Climate Town, and Hayden Clarkin, all passionate advocates for safer, smarter, more resilient cities. Look for them to connect how something as wonky as parking requirements intersect with so many broader livability and economic outcomes. 

They’re not the only ones on board. The roster of new urbanist all-stars participating include:

  • F———Cars
  • Climate Town
  • Open Plans
  • Alan Fisher
  • ClimateandTransit
  • The Happy Urbanist
  • Urban cowboy
  • Phil Ritz
  • Hayden Clarkin
  • Better Block

The key to all these efforts is to turn these striking visuals and stirring commentary into policy changes. “If you want a strong, productive city, one of the best, fastest things you can do is remove parking mandates and subsidies,” says Strong Towns founder Charles Marohn.

Here’s hoping we can reconvene at this time next year to celebrate all the cities and towns that have done just that.

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