This is the final installment of a five part series documenting parking minimums across the United States. Future graphs will explore parking minimums on a more local and conceptual level and will eventually include on-street parking policy as well.
There is no consensus on how to calculate minimum parking for high schools. The methods are so varied that I ended up leaving several cities off of this graphic in an effort to simplify comparisons. Still, despite my best efforts to use current national averages to build a fair basis of comparison, the numbers shown and the corresponding ranks of each city represent only one possible scenario and could shift significantly if different assumptions were used about student and staff population, built area, and/or the number of classrooms. The real lesson from this graph is the haphazardness with which minimums are calculated and the huge consequences for cities like Mesa that get it horribly wrong. Providing plentiful free parking to high school students gets them hooked on driving from an early age. It sets the expectation that driving is a rite of passage into adulthood and that any other method of getting around is immature or inferior. In a country with an obesity epidemic, that doesn’t seem to be the best lesson to teach. In a setting where equality should be a virtue, it provides a benefit to wealthier students, who have the means to drive a car, with funds that could go towards providing students (including those less well off) with a higher quality education.
Rather than make specific observations about the graph, I want to explore the real world effects of parking minimums for high schools. I chose at random two schools from Mesa, Arizona (the city with the highest requirement) and three from Milwaukee, Wisconsin (the only city listed that does not require parking). The five images show that Mesa requires far more parking than what seems from above to be typically used. On the other hand, Milwaukee’s lack of minimums does not translate to a complete lack of parking, but the difference is stark. Only a very small patch of each campus is allotted to parking, and the spaces provided are fully utilized.
Obviously these schools are not all exactly the same size, but the track shown in each image can be used for a sense of scale.
Mesa High School, Mesa, AZ
Dobson High School, Mesa, AZ
Madison High School, Milwaukee, WI
Vincent High School, Milwaukee, WI
Riverside High School, Milwaukee, WI
Do you have any observations? Feel free to leave them below.
As always, the graph in a vector format: high school