Monday, July 19, 2010

The Best Way to Green the Planet -- Mentally

A recent survey by Colliers International ranked the most expensive places to park.

Topping the list, is London, England where residents pay on average US$933 per month, while the average parking fees people in Hong Kong pay aren’t far behind – it came in second on the most expensive places to park list – at US$744.72.

Some places didn’t seem all that bad, residents in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada only pay on average US$116.94 per month to park their vehicles. The most expensive Canadian city? Calgary, Alberta at US$453.38 – and Calgary is the only Canadian location to make the top ten of the international most expensive places to park.

Today’s press will no doubt focus on how ridiculous it is to pay these prices for parking. They’ll probably do what journalists call “streeters” – those one-line sound bites from passersby on the street, getting reactions from angry drivers.

However, the municipalities which made the list should be congratulated, despite complaints from local drivers.

Whether you drive a Hummer in mid-town New York – the most expensive place to park in the United States – or a Lorry in London, UK – the most expensive place to park in the world – parking fees should be high.

Higher parking fees discourage people from driving in major urban centers, reducing the amount of vehicles in confined city spaces. Not only will this reduce commute times, thanks to the reduction in overall traffic, but all those nasty greenhouse gases spewed out from those vehicles is reduced too.

What a hassle – you say – how am I to go anywhere?

You’ll find a way.

We always do.

As more buildings a jammed into our already overcrowded urban areas, there are fewer and fewer spots to park. This generally increases the costs associated with parking, which is a good thing.

It forces people to think of alternative modes of transportation – such as taking public transit, riding a bike, walking, or if a car is absolutely required, car pooling.

Ironic how environmental disasters like British Petroleum’s oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico bring attention to the need for more green solutions, but what really brings about change is our own discomfort.

As parking spots in our urban centers are eaten up by newer developments, bringing even more people into the urban centers with cars and trucks, it constantly takes longer and longer to circle the block looking for a parking spot.

As those parking spots are increasingly rare, the cost to use them constantly increases.

Both the high fees and the hassle of finding a spot to park work on us psychologically, forcing us to think of other ways to get around.

Maybe the solution to our dependence on fossil fuels lies in our minds?

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