The Role that Off-Street Parking + Curb Cuts Play in the Urban Environment

Urban Planning Thesis

Naomi Delphin

David King, advisor

Despite the population density, level of mixed-use and transit connectivity of many neighborhoods in New York City, off-street parking facilities are prevalent throughout the City. These off-street parking facilities, often required by the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York, greatly impact the pedestrian streetscape. Each off-street parking facility requires a curb cut in the sidewalk for access between the parking facility and the street.  These curb cuts hinder the pedestrian experience and put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.  Each additional curb cut increases the risk of a pedestrian-vehicular collision. This study analyzed three areas in the inner ring neighborhoods of New York City.  These three study areas each have high population densities, high levels of mixed-uses, and high levels of connectivity to the New York City transit system, yet the percentage of sidewalk taken up by curb cuts in each of the three study areas greatly impedes upon the pedestrian environment.  Rather than encourage automobile use as off-street parking facilities do, New York City should instead refocus its efforts on improving the pedestrian streetscape by reducing the number of off-street parking facilities, thereby eliminating the curb cuts needed to access them.  The three study areas are compelling cases as to why parking as well as driving on a regular basis is unnecessary given the plethora of amenities available in these areas and the transit access and connectivity of these study areas.