Often the problem is not lack of parking, but a need to park "closer." Which makes your car more likely to get nicked or scraped as well. (Or maybe the senses of urgency and panic are actually misidentified and are, in fact, sublimated desire for liberation from the car and frustration that we cannot find a way to do it?)

Props for the Snark comment. I was just reading the Ethicist column in the Times where a Very Tall Person uses the "my superior planning skills means I keep my bulkhead seat and don't switch with the mom with three kids" (who also probs has terrific organizational skills but perhaps did not know she had to go to a funeral three months in advance? I am convinced tall people can't look others in the eye and are never properly socialized.)

"Cyclists." If only I could drive on sidewalks and in the middle of roads in the country and slow down traffic and endanger lives and then complain about everyone else on the road.

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I guess where you live cyclists haven’t devolved into the self-important menaces they are in Europe.

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This shouldn’t be a problem if bike lanes and pedestrian sidewalks are properly separated.

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That anxiety will “melt away” when society at large is presented with alternative options (such as walkable/bikeable streets)...it’s the lack of other reasonable and safe options that has humanity backed into a “fight or flight” corner...squabbling over the crumbs of asphalt that make your day either “easy” or, a congested hellscape...Oh, and, ”good luck”!

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People have known for decades, since before the introduction of cross-country and urban-ripping expressways, that everyone having a personal car simply wasn't going to work in modern society unless an insane amount of space was dedicated just to car storage and driving right-of-way. It would require destroying both natural land and developed neighborhoods.

And they did it all anyway.

It's not just powerful, it's aspirational. The first car owners were not the common man, they were rich people... because the first cars were not cheap in absolute or relative terms! The kinds of people who ended up with cars were the types of people who owned homes with stables and horses and servants to tend after them, and personal horse-carriages to go with them. The tendency was that no one who wasn't already invested in that kind of personal transportation could afford a car anyway! The original "parking problems" were conflicts among rich people & predated cars, so I'm sure their very down-to-earth opinions about this echoed in municipal and state leaders' heads as urgent problems to solve.

Then the Model T came out... and it meant that _slightly less rich people_ could now afford cars if they could also pay for the garaging... as public parking wasn't a thing yet! And of course, there were still few, narrow intercity and cross-regional routes for cars (driving one coast-to-coast was unheard of). Naturally, that led to conflicts and undersupply issues too, undermining the potential convenience of driving right from your home to wherever you wanted to go & back. Again, there were complaints, but less of an ability for private parties to just buy property to solve it. "Couldn't you give us a break on this?", these people said to government officials (who, again, had their ears open for some of their most important constituents).

And this just repeats itself over and over again. Truly poor people do not own reliable cars (if any at all) because it's just a big dirty steel baby that needs expensive coddling on top of a stiff purchase price, and the poor do not own parking spaces. (which still tends to be expensive real estate!) The middle class now owns cars, but under the aspirational guise of "if I stretch to afford the nicest one my finances allow, even though it loses value and is a poor monetary investment, it'll signal my worth to friends and lovers" - and, despite the vast destruction and astronomical expenses incurred by automobile infrastructure, _it's still not enough_ to live up to the marketing of cars (with V8-engine SUVs and sports cars whipping around cities on empty highways, presumably filmed at 6am on Sunday in June, with no mention of the expense of 10mpg travel or the inconvenience of those oil changes and tire rotations). As it turns out, drivers in cities skew toward wealthier demographics because driving and parking in cities is even MORE expensive than it is in the average suburb/exurb like Hunterdon County, and the only people able to afford such regular expensive use are the same "just under the horse-stable-owning class" folks from a century ago for whom we didn't have to room to accommodate in cities back then and we still don't have the room to accommodate now.

Cars are deadlier, dirtier, and costlier than ever for the people expected to own them; evolved, sane places give people public transit options in case they want to opt out (even in suburbs!), but 'Murica thinks it is different. For all the grief about what Robert Moses did, he at least did it in a city that had good transit systems that he couldn't destroy (he did not succeed in eliminating the other options for people), and he didn't get to the point of clearing out most of the urban acreage of the city altogether with urban renewal programs like some Midwest cities did (e.g. St. Louis) prompted by his work in wiping out select NYC neighborhoods. Shameful examples of car-focused tradeoffs, expenses, and demolitions are everywhere, and notably they did not do a single thing to make driving less miserable for people.

This all sounds like NIMBY grief, and there are bigger problems in life, and it's definitely a step up for a rural property owner to have a pickup truck instead of a horse (and there's probably ample parking at the general store/market in a rural town, so that doesn't really count as "miserable").

The point of all of this is... it's very curious, from a mass psychology perspective. The math/physics don't work, the environmental impacts are awful, and the driving experience feels really bad (and is becoming more unsafe for everyone), and even though a car projects status, much of our status is now projected over the Internet where a personal car is mostly meaningless.... so, what are we holding onto here? The idea that we could all be just like the ultra-rich and enjoy the luxury of pulling up to the door of everyplace we wanted to go, with a minimum of weather and horse shit and oil slicks, if we only complained harder about it to local officials and destroyed more housing and walkable downtowns to make space for it? I think that is a very specific kind of entitled perspective that isn't as widespread as it seems, and it echoes a concern I've had about the media and public discourse: "some people" (in reality, a few loud busybodies with few money issues to worry about) are always one of the main subjects/stakeholders of political issues. If we just tuned them out when they were wrong, we could realize immediate improvements in the quality of life - sometimes simply by dialing back 120 years to place design that actually worked.

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I’ve lived in a lot of places and learned over the years there are two things necessary to get ppl out of cars: parking has to be difficult AND there have to be pleasant/convenient options. Walking a mile is no big deal if there are paths or sidewalks and tree cover; it’s awful if you’re schlepping alongside a major road with no green space. Biking is more pleasant than and almost as fast as driving if you’re not feeling pushed to pedal as fast as possible to keep up with the cars rushing around you and there’s plenty of bike racks. Cities with a well-maintained and thorough public transit network are easy to move around in.

And if parking is a pain and/or expensive, then it’s just a lot easier to use one of those other options. But in places with wide roads and no sidewalks, where bus coverage is spotty, it’s just a lot easier to drive even if the distance is short and the weather pleasant. I’ve lived in cities where I’d walk several miles a day just to get around, and it was pleasant and easy, and I’ve lived in towns and small cities where I ended up driving even just a few blocks to pick up some milk bc the walk involved crossing several lanes of traffic and wide parking lots.

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Yeah, we make a concerted effort to walk my son to school every day (taking public transit when it's below freezing). The walk is ~10 minutes, and you can see the school from the road. But to accommodate drivers, they use the door on the far side that's adjacent to a road that can have people stop for drop off, so there's an extra 5 minutes of walking to get around to the back.

And of course while there's a bus stop at either end of the road that goes to the back of the school, rather than having two crossing signals, they have one that's in the middle (and can't currently be reached from the school because of construction) so you have to add another 4-5 minutes to walk from the intersection (where you can see the bus stop) down several hundred yards, wait for a crossing, then walk back the same distance, all just to catch the bus. And if you miss the bus while doing that, it's an extra 15 minutes minimum, which you're waiting in the cold for.

So of course people drive, it's the logical response to the fact that the infrastructure doesn't really support walking, but of course the reason the infra doesn't do that is because they're supporting driving first and foremost. I don't know the "right" way to cut the gordian knot, but I just know every time I look at that bus stop sitting there across 4 lanes and then sigh and start hustling, hoping we can make the walk down and back in time to be there for the bus, I can feel just how broken the system is...

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I think part of the problem is the feeling of one more way government, i.e. the powers that be, are controlling our lives so often because there are few parking spaces, partly because of restrictions and limitations for a gazillion reasons, some logical, some not.

A bicycle is much easier to "park!"

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My anxiety comes from understanding that the big hunk of metal could take my or any other persons life at any given second. That’s something that’s not entirely in my control! It’s frustrating, scary, and anxiety inducing.

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I've never experienced this panicked feeling in a parking lot, for exactly the reason you mention - it just takes a few minutes for a spot to open up. Parking lots may be ugly eyesores, but they never fail to do the job of providing parking. (To a fault, as you know, since they're usually mostly empty.)

I *do* experience that panicked feeling in urban street-parking scenarios, because the prospect that you might have to circle streets for 45 minutes in search of a legal spot is a real one. Adding to the anxiety is that if you miss a spot opening up by a split-second, some other guy will grab it and you're in for another indeterminately long period of circling. "Reality impinging on possibility" as you put it is a good way to express what makes this so aggravating.

It's not unique to the car, though, as anyone who's had a nightmare NYC subway ride can tell you.

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