Transportation Enhancement Districts: Improving access and strengthening neighborhoods - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Transportation Enhancement Districts: Improving access and strengthening neighborhoods

From San Francisco to Portland to London, cities have discovered a successful mechanism to spur economic growth and improve the vitality of their commercial districts. Now, it's Chicago's turn!

From San Francisco to Portland to London, cities have discovered a successful mechanism to spur economic growth and improve the vitality of their commercial districts. They are finessing the valuable public real estate currently devoted to free or cheap parking to enhance access to and use of their local shopping area. Now, Transportation Enhancement Districts, or TEDs, are slated to be tested in Chicago’s neighborhoods.

TEDs charge market rates for parking on the street and use part of the increased revenue to make the area more accessible by foot, transit, bike, and car. They are managed similar to a Special Service Area. Popularized by UCLA professor Don Shoup, TEDs promise to solve much more than a perceived or real lack of parking. By pricing meters according to the time of day – so that at any given time 20 percent of the spots are vacant – drivers are assured easy access to their favorite shops and restaurants, retail establishments do not lose customers to districts with plentiful parking, and the municipality and community share in increased revenue. Everyone is a winner.

Of course, the ultimate value of Transportation Enhancement Districts is not making it easier for drivers to find a parking spot; the goal is attracting more people to local establishments and strengthening neighborhoods. Enhancement districts can be used to make the area more walking-oriented and connected to the larger neighborhood, improve transit connects, invite more bicycling, and revitalize the streetscape to reflect the character of the neighborhood.

Through the collaborative efforts on the part of the Metropolitan Planning Council, the Department of Planning and Development, Aldermen, and community organizations, the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Traffic Control and Safety passed a resolution in early 2007 to explore the implementation of Transportation Enhancement Districts in three pilot areas: 53 rd Street in Hyde Park; Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square; Clark Street in Andersonville, and in the Bryn Mawr shopping district in Edgewater. These trials will iron out the kinks and quirks of the TED strategy and define a clear policy that can be transferred to other areas across the region.

The City of Chicago has the unique opportunity to be at the forefront of innovation for parking management. Unlike existing model TED locations, Chicago has an especially rich and expanding walking culture, a strong transit system, and more and more people bicycling. Our neighborhoods are fortunate enough to have these assets, and the TED program aims to further capitalize on their ability to anchor neighborhood development and feed on our city’s particular strengths.

Read the fact sheet on TEDs.

Find answers to frequently asked questions on TEDs.

Read MPC’s testimony to the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Traffic and Safety on Transportation Enhancement Districts.

Read the TED resolution .

Read Pursuits; Cities: The Parking Fix (The Wall Street Journal).

Read Traffic plan calls for pricier parking along busy streets (Chicago Sun Times).

Watch a presentation from Donald Shoup on his book, The High Cost of Free Parking .

Read Turning Small Change into Big Changes by Donald Shoup and Douglas Kolozsvari.

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