By reducing parking space requirements, cities can reduce car culture – and encourage the development of healthier grocery stores – in underserved areas. Photo by Wenzday01
Today, the New York Times alerted me to a problem that I had no idea sustainable transportation could solve.
It’s well known that low-income urban neighborhoods are “food deserts,” where supermarkets are rare, understocked and overpriced. Greater Greater Washington ran a great piece detailing this phenomenon in the District earlier this year. What’s more, I’ve been familiar with attempts to increase access to supermarkets, including in D.C.
The New York Times, though, mentioned that one of the strategies New York City is using to attract more supermarkets into food deserts is to change the city’s zoning laws that would “free smaller supermarkets from having to supply parking spaces.” Reducing or eliminating parking minimums for new development is good urbanism. But if it can help provide affordable, accessible, and nutritious food to low-income residents of the District – which is already a District goal – the planning commission has one more very good reason to wean us off of cars.