Will DC’s New Parking Czar Take Parking Reform to the Next Level?

There’s a new sheriff in Washington, at least when it comes to parking.

Washington, DC has been experimenting with performance parking. Does a new hire mean the city is going to make more sweeping changes? Photo: We Love DC

New DC parking czar Angelo Rao has all the trappings of a real reformer, according to John Hendel at TBD on Foot, and his selection by Mayor Vince Gray could be telling.

For a few years now, Washington has taken some important steps toward a smarter parking system. Among them: a pilot project in performance parking began in 2008 under then-mayor Adrian Fenty, and the City Council voted this week to let the pilot expand citywide. Gray’s recently stated goal of making three out of four trips car-free by 2030 also presumably carries major implications for parking policy.

Rao seems like an apt choice if Gray is serious about parking reform, Hendel reports:

Parking in particular will play a crucial role as D.C. struggles to manage its gridlock and transportation priorities. Mayor Vince Gray identified parking as one of the short-term priorities in his Sustainable D.C. plans, which call for three out of four trips to be car-free within 20 years. Of the two short-term actions the city needs: “Reduce building parking minimums and increase the availability of on-street parking through citywide performance parking districts.”

Luckily Angelo Rao’s sensibilities seem to fit right into the direction that D.C. is heading — although they have apparently provoked controversy in the past.

In a 2009 presentation down in Florida, Rao named his father Giuseppe as his hero and referred to his motto: “If I can’t walk or take a streetcar to it, it isn’t worth going to.” In the presentation, Rao emphasizes right-of-way concerns and pedestrian rights. He shows how the speed of cars coincides with pedestrian fatalities. His slides point to traffic calming measures. “Think pedestrian first,” Rao advises, and “share the road.”

If that wasn’t endearing enough, rumor has it that Rao was let go from his job as transportation director of St. Peterburg, Florida for his “controversial” “vehicle-slowing devices.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike PGH celebrates the coming unveiling of Pittsburgh’s first on-street bike corral. Rust Wire outlines greater Lansing, Michigan’s regional sustainability initiative. And Twin City Sidewalks presents a partial list of why St. Paul, Minnesota is a great biking city.