Conventional wisdom says that businesses need parking spots. If would-be customers can’t pull up out front, how will they come inside?
This is a powerful idea, and it invariably animates the opposition any time cities threaten to redesign roadways, replacing parking spots with bus lanes, cycle tracks, bike racks or wider sidewalks. Remove parking, the argument goes, and business will wither.
The reality, though, is more complicated. Consider one illustration: For the last few years, Philadelphia has converted a handful of parking spots in front of neighborhood businesses into temporary “parklets” no bigger than the space that might fit one or two cars (these tiny interventions are now popular in a lot of cities). Records from adjacent businesses show sales went up about 20 percent immediately after the parks were installed, relative to right beforehand.