This four-level parking structure received LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in March 2013. Walker Parking Consultants

This data shows the quantitative reasons we need to rethink parking in the future, along with the mental shift it will take for users accustomed to driving their own cars and having their own parking spaces.

For decades, providing downtown parking was a top priority for urban planners. Huge parking garages for commuters’ cars occupied prime real estate that otherwise might have been used for housing, stores or offices.

But ride-hailing services and autonomous cars are going to revolutionize parking in cities across the country — in garages, in lots and along curbs. By 2030, 15 percent of new cars sold will be totally autonomous, according to one estimate. One in 10 will be shared. And as it becomes easier for people to summon shared or autonomous cars when they need them, fewer people will want to own their own vehicle, meaning fewer cars overall.

The bottom line: We’re going to need much less space to store cars. Some cities are gearing up to take advantage of the shift.

“Urban parking lots are dead or dying, and how we use the curb is changing,” said Rich Barone, vice president of transportation for the Regional Plan Association of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The RPA released a report in October urging cities to “get ready” for autonomous vehicles. It predicts that by 2045, 70 to 90 percent of all cars in major urban areas could be autonomous.

Parking in downtowns is going to “morph from being big massive surface lots and garages to much smaller areas configured for pickup and drop-off of autonomous vehicles,” Barone said. “Cities will be more walkable, more people-friendly, and there will be more space for parks and other amenities.”

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