University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Framing Local Parking Restrictions as Climate Change Mitigation Policies

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June 2018

Ian McKenny


Local policies aimed at reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change are growing in popularity in the United States, but progress on reducing vehicle emissions remains incremental. Cities are slowly shifting away from zoning policies that require excessive amounts of parking in favor of limiting parking, which could reduce driving. This study analyzes the content of media coverage to determine the role of vehicle emissions and other concerns in discussions about restrictive parking policies. This analysis finds that emissions concerns play a small role in such discussions, and the prevailing concerns are much more immediate and visible to localities. Traffic congestion, public safety, alternative modes of transportation, and the economics of parking itself all weigh much more heavily in media coverage of parking restrictions than vehicle emissions. These results suggest that while emissions concerns support restricting parking, factors affecting day-to-day travel and activities are more motivating.

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