One of the paradoxes of automobile-dominated cities is that they cannot function without public transportation. Most of the people who do the low-paid work without which modern cities cannot survive can't afford to buy and operate cars – and if they could, cities would be paralyzed by gridlock. Urban capitalism depends on minimum-wage jobs and precarious work, so the state has to provide some level of transit service for the people who do that work.
All too often, however, the service provided is inadequate and unreliable. Why spend more money than absolutely necessary to serve the needs of working people and the poor, who are often immigrants and members of racialized minorities?
Parking can be a problem, no doubt about it. Front yard parking, however, is no solution.
1. Front yard parking frequently means fewer parking spots, not more
Front yard parking is attractive (if you don’t mind paving over your front yard) because it guarantees the person who has it a parking
spot. With on-street parking, you can't prevent other people from parking on the street in front of your house. With front yard parking, you can.
However, your gain is often other people’s loss, because
front yard parking commonly results in fewer parking spaces on the
street overall. This is because the street frontage in front of
each front-yard parking spot is no longer available for parking,
and the space remaining between one front yard and the next is frequently
too small to accommodate a car, given the typically small size of
city lots. The result: fewer total parking spaces: not more. In
other words, front yard parking benefits those who have it, since
it guarantees them a parking space, but it often makes parking more
difficult for everyone else.
This in itself acts as an incentive for more and more home-owners to get front yard parking for themselves, once it is established, since fewer on-street parking spots are available. The parking problem in the neighbourhood gets worse, not better.
Front yard parking is dangerous for children
The more front yard parking there is, the more cars there are backing to and fro across the sidewalk. Children, especially small children, are fast-moving and unpredictable, hard to see, and don’t have much traffic sense. At present, they are safe from cars as long as they stay off the street. With front yard parking, the sidewalk is no longer a car-free safe area. Every year, children are killed by cars backing over them. With increased front yard parking, the question is not whether more children will be killed, but how many more.
Front yard parkings kills trees and contributes to global warming
Front yard parking has serious negative environmental impacts. Front yard parking kills trees, prevents new trees from being planted, and significantly reduces the total amount of green space, replacing it with asphalt. Trees mitigate global warming, pavement makes it worse. Allowing front yard parking is a built-in incentive for people to pave over the green spaces on our streets. Dennis Laffan, a forestry co-ordinator with the City of Toronto, has stated that front yard parking is the biggest killer of street trees in Toronto today. Even when trees are not cut down to accommodate parking, their roots are often severely damaged by laying pavement or bricks, which also cut them off from moisture and nutrients. And of course once a yard is paved over, no new trees are going to grow there.
Front Yard Parking is a Bad Idea
The negative effects of front yard parking are significant, and affect us all. The benefits are small, and go only to a few. It should not be available.