Slate’s Tom Vanderbilt has a good article about the role of parking in shaping the attractiveness of different kinds of transportation. He points out that:

parking helps make commuters—a lesson long ago learned with cars. Studies in New York found that a surprisingly large percentage of vehicles coming into lower Manhattan were government employees or others who had an assured parking spot. Other studies have shown the presence of a guaranteed parking spot at home—required in new residential developments—is what turns a New Yorker into a car commuter.

On the flip side, people would be much less likely to drive into Manhattan if they knew their expensive car was likely to be stolen, vandalized, or taken away by police. And yet this is what was being asked of bicycle commuters, save those lucky few who work in a handful of buildings that provide indoor bicycle parking. Surveys have shown that the leading deterrent to potential bicycle commuters is lack of a safe, secure parking spot on the other end.

When it finally dies, I would love to be able to replace my car with a serious electric bike (or more likely a cheap used car and an electric bike), but parking is kind of a concern. It’s one thing to park a $400 bike by chaining it to a fence; I’m not sure what I’d want to do with a bike that cost twenty times that much.

[To the tune of Ides Of March, “Vehicle,” from the album Vehicle (I give it 5 stars).]