IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Progress in immobility: How optimization of stationary traffic can improve traffic flow


  • Shoup, Donald


“Paying for parking is like going to a prostitute,†George Costanza, one of the most prominent cheapskates in the history of TV, once said. “Why should I pay when, if I apply myself, maybe I can get it for free?†Although most people would probably choose more subtle analogies, this punch line of the short and chubby Seinfeld sidekick aptly sums up most Americans’ attitude toward paying for parking. And where has this attitude led us? Where curb parking is underpriced and overcrowded, a surprisingly large share of traffic may be cruising in search of a place to park. Sixteen studies conducted between 1927 and 2001 found that, on average, 30 percent of the cars in congested traffic on city streets were cruising for parking. For example, when researchers interviewed drivers who were stopped at traffic signals in New York City, they found that 28 percent of the drivers on a street in Manhattan and 45 percent on a street in Brooklyn were cruising for curb parking. In another study, the average time to find a curb space on 15 blocks in the Upper West Side of Manhattan was 3.1 minutes and the average cruising distance was 0.6 kilometers. These findings were used to estimate that cruising for underpriced parking in this small area alone creates about 590,000 excess vehicle kilometers of travel and 295 tons of CO2 per year.

Suggested Citation

  • Shoup, Donald, 2011. "Progress in immobility: How optimization of stationary traffic can improve traffic flow," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6hz481dk, University of California Transportation Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt6hz481dk

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Social and Behavioral Sciences;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt6hz481dk. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.