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Portsmouth’s Parking Woes

September 18 2017

Reducing the Demand for Downtown Parking

Yes, Portsmouth has a parking problem.  Increasing the supply of parking spaces is only part of the solution.  Let’s look at reducing the DEMAND for parking.

Ultimately, there are no magic bullets to solve Portsmouth’s parking problem.  It will take a collaborative effort between the City, employers, commuters, and other stakeholders.

One method, used by communities across America and the globe plagued with traffic congestion and parking issues, is to apply the principles of Transportation Demand Management (TDM).  Reducing demand is a cost-effective alternative or supplement to increasing supply.  Studies show that when free parking is eliminated, the demand reduces dramatically and commuters change their travel behavior.

CommuteSMART Seacoast works on the demand side of the equation by encouraging commuters to switch from their habit of driving alone to carpooling, taking the bus, riding a bicycle or moped, walking, and teleworking.  We don’t advocate an all or nothing approach – even commuting sustainably once or twice a week reduces parking demand. Everything helps.

Sustainable transportation not only lessens the demand for parking, it helps the environment, improves public health, creates stronger communities, and saves commuters money. During May’s Commute Smart B2B Challenge, over 810 Seacoast workers commuted sustainably.  The Challenge resulted in 100 tons of reduced CO2 emissions; 212,500 fewer single occupancy vehicle miles driven; and $121,700 put back into the pockets of commuters.

What role do businesses have in helping to reduce parking demand?  They can provide their employees with incentives, transit schedules, subsidized bus passes, bike parking, facilitate the formation of carpools, give new hires information about transportation options, and participate in area Commuter Challenges.  CommuteSMART offers free consultation to Seacoast businesses on sustainable commuting options.

The upcoming “Conquer the Cold” Commuter Challenge, to be held Nov. 1 – Jan. 31, will encourage and reward commuters who ride a bike or moped, walk, or take the bus to work.  Let’s encourage downtown workers to try another way to get to work. For more information, visit