by Ryan Avent
The New York Times has asked three different writers to recommend ways to get New Yorkers moving around their city faster. The results suggest that we're still not thinking as clearly as we ought to be about improving mobility in a sustainable manner.
Hope Cohen writes that the city needs to quit being soft on stationary objects. This includes curbside parking, which she says should be eliminated on major thoroughfares, but also sidewalk cafe tables on Broadway. What's more, the city needs to start building more parking garages, so that drivers aren't constantly looking around for curbside spaces. In other words, the way to get things moving is to give cars more lanes and more parking spots.
This is the armchair planning intuition: hey, if the problem is too few lanes and spaces let's build more. But that, planners and economists will tell you, is exactly wrong. The problem isn't the supply, it's the price. Road space in Manhattan is incredibly valuable. So are New York parking spots. Offer those things for below market value and you'll get gridlock, no matter how many new lanes you provide or parking garages you build. The solution to immobility isn't to relentlessly increase supply; it's to match it with demand.