Downtown Providence:
An Excess of Parking

This is a map of all the parking in Downtown Providence. For the purposes of this page, “Downtown” refers to this area, adapted from official sources.

You can open the above map in a new tab.

This page is generated from OpenStreetMap data, much of which was added by me. Therefore, these counts aren’t official, and are definitely prone to error. If you see a data error and feel up for fixing it on OSM, eventually the change will be reflected here. This page was last updated on 29 October 2020.

monospaced red text like this indicates a number or text that was computed programmatically.

☞ Recommended Reading: The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup.
Please support local booksellers (Books on the Square | Riffraff | Symposium).

Findings

Parking Type Facility Count Parking Spaces Accessible Spaces Area % Downtown Area
Surface 194 8,311 167 2,723,750.92 ft2 12.54%
Structured 19 13,904 127* 1,005,244.73 ft2 4.63%
Underground 11 1,832* 9* -- --
On-Street -- 2,220 -- 339,660.0 ft2 1.56%
Combined 224 26,267* 303* 0.1459 miles2 18.725%

* Indicated figures are based on incomplete data and are low.

Street Parking

There are approximately 2,220 on-street parking spaces. Some are metered or otherwise restricted, others are not. In some areas, like on Eddy Street behind City Hall, people regularly park on sidewalks.

If we approximate the dimensions of the average on-street parking space as 9 feet by 17 feet, we find that on-street parking accounts for 339,660.0 ft2. The total area of the Downtown neighborhood is 0.78 miles2, so street parking accounts for approximately 1.56% of the Downtown land area.

Surface Parking

“Surface parking” refers to parking lots that are exclusively on ground level and are typically uncovered.

There are roughly 8,311 spaces in 194 surface lots. The average capacity of surface lots is 42.8, and the median capacity is 27.

Surface lots, combined, have a surface area of 2,723,750.92 ft2 (0.0977 mi2), which translates into roughly 12.54% of the Downtown land area. The average area of these is 14,039.95 ft2, and the median is 8,122.03 ft2.

Unlike on-street parking, which is typically parallel and relatively space-efficient, parking lots often have inner service roads or lanes, so that cars have space to turn around and maneuver. Given the total area and number of spaces, we can calculate that each individual parking space is responsible for an area of 342.0 ft2. If the average spot is assumed to be 9 feet × 17 feet = 153 ft2, each surface space accounts for an additional 188.69 ft2 (55.22%) for service roads, turn-around space, etc.

Note: some commuter lots have notably higher space efficiencies because they block cars in.

OpenStreetMap has a capacity:disabled tag to indicate the number of spaces which are considered (in the US), to be handicapped-accessible. I’ve done my best to catalogue these, but paint or signs indicating this in many lots is faded or out of date, so counts may be notably low. That said, the current data on OpenStreetMap suggests that there are 167 of these accessible spaces in 57 surface lots, approximately 2.01% of the total count of surface lots spaces. Lots with any disabled spaces have an average of 2.93 accessible spaces (median of 2.0 accessible spaces).

Structured Parking

“Structured parking” refers to multi-story, above-ground structures with a primary purpose of providing parking, indicated by the OpenStreetMap multi-storey tag.

There are roughly 13,904 spaces in 19 structured lots. The average capacity of structured lots is 731.789, and the median is 350.

Structured lots, combined, have a surface area of 1,005,244.73 ft2. The average structured lot area is 52,907.62 ft2, with a median of 32,400.19 ft2.

If we calculate the average area per space, we find that it is 107.18 ft2, 68.63% lower than the average space required for a surface space.

127 accessible spaces in structured garages have been indicated in the OpenStreetMap data. However, several garages do not publish this information and have not, as of yet, responded to my requests for it. Thus, there is low confidence in this figure… it is likely higher.

Underground Parking

Unsurprisingly, this refers to garages that are entirely underground.

There are roughly 1,832 spaces in 11 underground lots. The average capacity of underground lots is 166.545, and the median is 160.

While some area is used for entrance/exit ramps to these garages, it is negligible and will not be considered.

9 accessible underground spaces have been indicated in the OpenStreetMap data. As with structured parking, this figure has low confidence and is likely higher than reported here.

Data Download

Here are some (possibly) useful CSVs you can download. “area”s are in square meters, and “efficiency” is a measure of area per space in square meters. Indices are OSM IDs.

Credits


Data Collection, Analysis, and Website by

Chris Sarli

View Calculations

View Project on GitHub


Inspired by

Greater City Providence


Requested By/In Support of

Providence Streets Coalition


Data Stored On/Sourced from

OpenStreetMap