Lauren Goode: Do you mean you personally or the collective you?
Gideon Lichfield: I mean, it’s always about me, isn’t it?
Lauren Goode: Of course. [Chuckle]
Gideon Lichfield: So anyway, I ride a bicycle, I use public transport. I don’t own a car.
Lauren Goode: But you own a motorcycle though.
Gideon Lichfield: Thank you for the street cred, but I keep it in storage most of the time.
Lauren Goode: OK, so here’s why you should care about parking.
Gideon Lichfield: I’m all ears.
Lauren Goode: This isn’t just about the future of parking, it’s about the future of the. And you care about cities, right? You’re a city dweller.
Gideon Lichfield: True, I am. And I think we all care about the future of cities, especially after the pandemic, we’ve been wondering what it’s going to be like aschanges.
Lauren Goode: Exactly, this is a theme that has come up before on this show. And I think as we have filtered back into the real world, the physical world, it’s hard not to notice how our use of space has changed.
Lauren Goode: I mean, for me, I think one of the most obvious signs of this when you walk around cities is thosethat have popped up on streets outside of restaurants.
Gideon Lichfield: I love that we call them “parklets,” like we can’t let go of the idea that they’re also a form of parking.
Lauren Goode: Exactly, yeah. And whether you call them a parklet or a shack or an extension of a restaurant probably depends on how you feel about the parking spaces they occupy.
Gideon Lichfield: Yes, and then there’s the way that we’ve just seemingly decided that some streets can be closed to traffic so people can walk on them and enjoy the outdoors.
Lauren Goode: Yeah, there are a couple of good examples of that in San Francisco, right? JFK Drive and Golden Gate Park is now closed to cars, which personally, I love. I ride my bike there a lot.
Gideon Lichfield: OK, so what’s the connection to parking?
Lauren Goode: OK, so here’s the connection. Our guest today, Henry Grabar, believes that parking explains a lot about how we use the space in our cities. He’s a writer for Slate Magazine, and this new book, Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World, talks all about how we have built up this parking infrastructure in cities to mirror the suburbs, and how that really informs a lot of other uses of space in our downtowns and maybe that’s not a good thing.
Gideon Lichfield: OK, so what is his argument?
Lauren Goode: Well, he says that we need to rethink the idea that parking needs to be so abundant because cities are not suburbs, so we shouldn’t treat them that way.