UConn's Chris McCahill enjoys researching many of the same things. In a recent study which has been picked up at The Atlantic Cities and at Felix Salmon's blog, among other places (unfortunately not freely available on the web), McCahill and Professor Norman Garrick examined three New England cities – New Haven, Hartford and Cambridge – and attempted to track the change in downtown parking over a period of 50 years, using historic aerial photos as a guide. The results of this meticulous study were contrasted with the change in population and employment in these same cities, with an eye toward testing the hypothesis that increased access to parking is correlated with commercial and residential real estate development.
Courtesy of Chris McCahill
"This study reveals a need to reassess the impacts of the demand-driven approaches to parking provision that are conventional in most U.S. cities, including New Haven and Hartford. A more balanced approach to parking provision, like the approach taken in Cambridge, would address real parking demands in a way that acknowledges that excess parking contributes to increases in automobile use, which in turn exacerbate parking issues."