Monday Notebook

The Tragedy of the (Parking) Commons: Nearly everyone I know drives. That means everyone I know parks. I’ll only speak for my own experience, though: The most detestable part of driving is getting stuck in traffic; the second worst, which is almost the same as the first, is parking in a busy commercial district. I love seeing drivers circling blocks or parking lots looking for a choice space: I call that “the great lazy American pastime”; though often enough, even in a place as self-consciously environmentally correct as Berkeley, any space is a choice space.

What’s the cumulative effect of our need to park right now, right next to wherever impulse or necessity have driven us? A piece in Salon this morning, “We paved paradise,” reviews the impacts and possible solutions. One tidbit:

“… [T]here are few frustrations like driving around looking for a parking space, which has its own environmental impacts. [A researcher] studied a 15-block district in Los Angeles and found that drivers spent an average of 3.3 minutes looking for parking, driving about half a mile each. Over the course of a year, Shoup calculated the cruising in that small area would amount to 950,000 excess miles traveled, equal to 38 trips around the earth, wasting about 47,000 gallons of gas, and producing 730 tons of carbon dioxide that contribute to global warming.”

Massive Final Half-Off Double-Points Blow-Out Sale of the Century: I bought something from Performance Bicycle Stores ( at some point, and boy, they sure won’t let me forget it. Here’s how one of my email in-boxes looks this morning:


That’s 11 sale emails in eight days. Another word for it is spam, and you wonder whether the deals they’re offering outweigh the irritation engendered by the swarm of offers. I rarely open the emails; the main reason is that I’d like to support my local bike shops instead of spending my money with a chain. Performance did open a shop here in the last couple years, though, and I’ll admit I go in there to buy the bike drink mix that I use; the prices charged elsewhere are simply too much of a gouge.

Technorati Tags:

One Reply to “Monday Notebook”

  1. One of the non-compensatory perks at my job in the suburbs is free parking. I always mention this whenever I interview someone. Baltimore and DC (especially) are notoriously difficult to find parking in. In fact, I rarely drive into DC for that very reason. It makes me crazy driving around trying to locate a spot. (And, BTW, of the drivers in my family, I am the only one brave enough to parallel park.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *