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HCoFP: chapter 11, Cruising

Chapter opens with a quote about paying for parking being like going to a prostitute. "Why should I pay when, if I apply myself, maybe I can get it for free?" -- George Constanza, Seinfeld character. Pun on "cruising".

Then an analogy to ocean fishing, and the depletion of common property resources. Ah, we're moving from the costs of mandatory off-street parking to the costs of curbside parking. People search for free or cheap curbside parking to save themselves money, while costing everyone else in congestion and pollution -- and often costing themselves in time.

Anecdote about desperately looking for parking in 1920s Connecticut, back when there were traffic officers at every corner.

A 1975 Colorado Supreme Court decision used the word "autoists". Never seen that before.

The first cruising study, in 1927 downtown Detroit, found 19% of traffic was cruising at one point, 34% at another, between 2 and 6pm.

In 1933 DC, cruising was 19% of trip time, and reduced overall speed from 14.2 mph to 8.5 mph.

In 1960 downtown New Haven, cruising was at least 17% of total miles traveled.

Cruising congestion particularly hits buses, making them slower and more irregular, as they're using the same lanes, and the cruisers are going particularly slowly as they look for spaces. IME it affects bicyclists as well... Bad buses encourage driving, which makes the congestion and buses even worse...

In 1977 Freiburg it was estimated that *74%* of the traffic was cruising.

Cruises of more than 5 minutes are common, or even more than 10 minutes.

1985 Cambridge Harvard Square: average of 11.5 minutes in cruise time, range of 2-25 minutes, average distance traveled 1.27. Estimate that 30% of traffic was cruising.


Mobile parking! When one person drives round and around while someone else runs and errand. At 12 cents a mile and 10 miles an hour, this can be $1.20 an hour, cheaper than lots of parking. Also 'live' parking, where a driver remains in a stationary car in a spot that would be illegal to simply park in. Provo sends zoning inspectors in pairs, one to inspect a property and one to tend the car. Given the cost of labor that's pretty expensive.


If average search time is 3 minutes per downtown space, and a space sees 10 cars a day, it's generating 30 minutes of cruise time a day. At 10 mph, 5 miles of cruising, just for that space. At 33 spaces a block, 165 miles per day per block, or 60,000 miles traveled per year -- more than two trips around the Earth.

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Damien Sullivan

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