Parking & Access Management

Transit-supportive design should not neglect parking. Rather, parking should be integrated as an element that can bolster the vitality of a local area and, if managed properly, not compromise the effectiveness of transit service and access.

Parking Location

Parking should be considered a secondary means of access to transit. (The exception may be at designated park-and-ride areas. However, long-term planning should consider the transition of park-and-ride areas into transit supportive development districts.) No parking, whether it is designated for a specific use or park-and-ride purposes, should be located such that a pedestrian must pass through the lot to reach adjacent uses. Parking could be located immediately adjacent to a transit stop if there is no use on the other side that relies on pedestrian access from the stop location.

Parking for disabled persons should be provided throughout all developments, including on-street and on-site parking. The locations of these parking spaces should meet local municipal requirements and consider proximity to transit stations.

See RTA's Access and Parking Strategies for Transit-Oriented Developments for standards regarding parking ratios, parking maximums, and other strategies for reducing the amount of parking for new transit-oriented developments.

Parking Lot Access

Curb cuts and driveways that provide access to parking areas often disrupt pedestrian access to transit. Access to parking lots should be designed to minimize disruptions to the sidewalk network between a structure and the nearest transit stop. The following are tools that can be used by developers and local municipalities to encourage good access management.

Thoughtful site design can minimize conflicts between motorists and pedestrians. Driveways and parking aisles should be sited and designed to provide pedestrians uninterrupted paths to transit and the public sidewalk network. Where sidewalks and driveways must cross, raised crosswalks, bollards and lighting, and/or pedestrian signage can be used to give pedestrians the priority.

Secondary parking lot access should be encouraged. Rather than providing multiple curb cuts from the primary street that is most likely to accommodate pedestrian traffic, development should be encouraged to provide all parking access from a secondary street or alley. Where no secondary street or alley access is possible, curb cuts should be limited to one curb cut, across which a consistent sidewalk is maintained.

Cross-access between sites is an effective way to manage on-site traffic flow. It allows adjacent sites to reduce the number of curb cuts, thereby maintaining a constant public sidewalk environment. It also removes traffic from the roadway, enhancing transit operations and other vehicular traffic flow.

On-site Parking Capacity

Many places in the Chicagoland region require extensive on-site parking capacity to accommodate cars. However, transit supportive environments should minimize parking requirements to preserve land for development and foster pedestrian mobility. The following are tools local municipalities can use to help manage parking capacity in order to create transit supportive areas.

Local zoning ordinances can establish transit supportive districts that either waive or reduce parking requirements. Zoning can also be used to incentivize quality development and bike parking through reduced on-site parking requirements.

Shared parking agreements can be encouraged. Such agreements permit uses that generate parking demands during different times of the day or week to share the capacity of one facility. For example, an office may use the capacity of a lot during the work week, while a church uses the lot for evening or weekend events.

A municipal parking program can effectively manage parking in a transit environment. Lots, structures, and signage provide the infrastructure and information necessary to enhance an area served by transit. Communities typically use fees in lieu of parking or local economic development tools to implement such programs.

Parking Design Standards

Zoning ordinances establish standards for the design of parking facilities, including parking space dimensions, aisle dimensions and configurations, and landscaping. While the design of parking lots is not specifically a transit supportive issue, it can have an impact on how much land is used and the way it is used. Parking design standards should use minimum dimensions in order to maximize the use of land for development density. The following table compares typical suburban parking design standards to more transit supportive standards.

Parking Lot ElementTypical Suburban RequirementTransit-supportive Metric
Drive Aisle (with no parking)
Drive Aisle - One-way
  A1 45-degree parking13-15’13’
  A2 60-degree parking18-20’18’
  A3 90-degree parking24’22’
Drive Aisle - Two-way
  B1 45-degree parking24’22’
  B2 60-degree parking24’22’
  B3 90-degree parking24’22’
  B4 Parallel parking24’22’
Standard Parking Space
  C1 Width10-11’8-8.5’
  C2 Depth20’18’
Parking Bay Depth*
  D1 45-degree parking20’18.5’
  D2 60-degree parking22’19.5’
  D3 90-degree parking20’18’
Source of dimensions from Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE)

Parking and Access Management Implementation Checklist

Guideline PrinciplesImplementation Tools
Locate off-street parking areas so that they do not interfere with pedestrian circulation routesLocal zoning regulations?
Minimize disruptions to the sidewalk when designing a parking lotLocal zoning regulations
Maximize multi-modal infrastructure within existing right-of-wayLocal subdivision regulations, local public works/engineering standards, D.O.T standards
Reduce the amount of required off-street parking through lower ratios, parking maximums, incentives, etc. Local zoning regulations
Use minimum dimensions for parking lot designLocal zoning regulations, local subdivision regulations