Urban fast food joints need limited parking

During my recent trip to Vancouver, I walked by the Dairy Queen in the picture below.


The parking shown in this picture above is all this fast food restaurant has. So, about 7 spots total. Here’s an overhead view:

Screen shot 2013-08-01 at 6.24.36 PM

That seems about right. This Dairy Queen is located in Vancouver’s West End, which is very accessible on foot or by bike; there’s little need for any more parking.

By contrast, the Carl’s Jr. in downtown Salt Lake City has a parking lot with more square area than the building has square feet:

Google image of the downtown SLC Carl's Jr. parking lot.

Google image of the downtown SLC Carl’s Jr. parking lot.

I counted more than 40 spaces at this Carl’s Jr.

The ironic thing is that the Vancouver Dairy Queen actually serves more people. The surrounding neighborhood is more dense, has more businesses and is part of a much larger city. In other words, there’s more potential demand for parking spaces in Vancouver.

The obvious reason the Salt Lake City restaurant has more parking is because it’s in a traditionally “car-centric” town. But that’s both a descriptive and a prescriptive statement; Salt Lake is car centric because we continue to let it be car centric. Or in other words, calling it “car-centric” seems to imply that car-oriented design is one of many acceptable solutions. It isn’t and we’d be better off just calling Salt Lake City’s land use policy “inferior” to Vancouver’s. Other words that come to mind are “flawed,” “ugly,” “expensive,” “wasteful,” and “inefficient.”

That isn’t to say Salt Lake is a bad city. It isn’t. But in this regard, it lags behind. And in the end, the point is that Vancouver needs less parking because it has less parking.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Parking demand will never go away while parking remains well-supplied | About Town

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