The Peculiarities of Parking in Pennsylvania

One thing that I never anticipated about this trip is the amount of mental energy we would spend on parking! In fact, this is my second blog post about it – intriguing stuff, I know. In Houston, everywhere we’ve ever lived has come with plenty of parking included, and it’s just not something you have to think about very much. In Montreal and Philadelphia, we rented a space in a parking garage, and here in Pittsburgh, it’s kind of a weird situation where we have free parking at a nearby bank on nights and weekends, but have to pay to park it during the day. It’s working out so far because we’re using the car a lot more frequently.

And here’s a weird thing I’ve noticed in Philly and the ‘burgh: people will get creative when it comes to maximizing parking spots. There’s a section on Broad Street in Philadelphia where people can park their cars right in the middle of the road. Check it out! To me, that’s a turn lane! But there, it’s a median, and apparently primo parking real estate. I even think it might be free?

And here in Pittsburgh, they don’t park in the middle of the street, but it’s totally cool to roll up on a sidewalk to make sure there’s enough space in a narrow street for traffic to get by. The other day, I saw a van parked fully on the sidewalk, within inches of the adjacent building. A pretty impressive maneuver.

The thing is, limited parking is the tradeoff we make in exchange for living in the kind of areas we want to live in: super dense, urban centers with high walkability and public transit options. In Montreal, with its incredible metro system, the only time we used the car was for our trip to Burlington – and I don’t think we even used Uber the whole time we were there. In Philadelphia, we took the car out several times to visit the suburbs, took the subway once, and ubered two or three times. But in Pittsburgh, with its hills and looser urban layout, we’re already much more dependent on taking the bus, calling an uber, and using the car… especially as the weather turns colder. We definitely prefer driving less and walking more – it’s been interesting to experience the different shapes that can take.

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