Urban Mobility

Planning for Shared Mobility (Part 2): Incorporating Shared Modes into Developer and Zoning Regulations

Last month, we wrote about how city managers, planners, and public works departments can support shared mobility by incorporating it into the public rights-of-way (e.g., providing designated, on-street parking spaces).


Cities can also implement an array of policies aimed at easing zoning regulations and parking minimums to promote the inclusion of shared mobility in new developments. Commonly referred to as incentive zoning for shared mobility, these include: 1) policies that enable reduced parking and 2) policies that allow increased density.




Policies that allow reduced parking can include parking reductions (downgrading the required number of spaces in a new development) and parking substitution (substituting general-use parking for shared modes, such as carsharing parking, bikesharing kiosks/parking, and parking for carpools and vanpools).


Parking reduction policies can be beneficial in urban areas with high housing or parking construction costs. In these economic environments, parking reductions can help make housing more affordable by reducing per-unit costs and can encourage neighborhood redevelopment and revitalization by making it more economic for developers to renovate and add density to urban parcels.


Policies that allow increased density include greater floor-to-area ratios, more dwelling units permitted per acre, and greater height allowances. Similar to parking reduction, policies that allow for increased density aim at making development more lucrative for developers and real estate investors. Rather than reducing per-unit or overall project costs, these policies can increase the overall cash flow of development projects. These strategies can be particularly effective at encouraging urban brownfield redevelopment because these parcels are often more expensive to rehabilitate due to the costs commonly associated with environmental remediation.


Incentive zoning can have a profound impact on the growth and potential success of shared mobility in a city. Here’s how three cities leverage incentive zoning to encourage the growth of shared mobility in their communities:


Seattle, Washington

Seattle’s municipal code allows for a reduction of up to five percent of a development project’s required total parking spaces with the inclusion of a city-recognized carsharing program. Seattle’s ordinance reduces the number of required spaces by one space for every parking space leased by a carsharing program. For developments requiring 20 or more parking spaces that provide carsharing parking, the number of required parking spaces may be reduced by up to 15 percent of the total number of required spaces (Seattle Municipal Code, § 23.54.020). To qualify, an agreement between the property owner and the carsharing operator must be filed and approved by the city and recorded with the deed.




Vancouver, Washington

Vancouver’s municipal government allows for reduced transportation impact fees and residential density bonuses for the inclusion of alternative transportation in the city’s public transit overlay district. Impact fee reductions are granted on a percentage basis for implementing one or more alternative transportation measures, such as:

– Construction of direct walkway connection to the nearest arterial;
– Installation of pedestrian-convenient information kiosk, with maintained information;
– Installation of bike lockers;
– Connection to an existing or future regional bike trail;
– Direct walk/bikeway connection to destination activity (e.g., a commercial/retail facility, park, school), if a residential development or to an origin activity (e.g., a residential area), if a commercial/retail facility;
– Construction of on-site internal walk/bikeway network;
– Installation of paid parking facilities; and
– Installation of preferential carpool/vanpool parking facilities.

Additional measures are identified in Vancouver’s Municipal Code, § 20.550.050. Vancouver’s ordinance allows a maximum total reduction of 24 percent of developer transportation impact fees, if all alternative transportation strategies are implemented.


Indianapolis, Indiana

Last year, Indianapolis adopted a revised consolidated zoning and subdivisions ordinance. Under the revised zoning code, developers are permitted up to a 35 percent parking reduction for transportation measures, such as:

– Shared vehicle, carpool, or vanpool spaces;
– Electric-vehicle charging stations;
– Bicycle parking;
– Proximity to public transportation; and
– Shared parking.

In addition to incentive zoning, shared mobility can be incorporated as part of transportation demand management (TDM) planning. Many TDM measures offer similar incentives to developers, facility managers, and property owners for the inclusion of shared mobility and other TDM measures (e.g., bicycle parking, bicycle lockers, showers, and preferential or free parking for carpools and vanpools) in residential, commercial, and mixed-use developments.


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By incorporating shared modes into new and existing developments, cities can help create a shared mobility “network effect” where shared modes in close proximity become a multi-modal multiplier adding value to all shared modes, active transportation options, and public transit.



This article was co-authored with Adam Cohen.


Cohen and Shaheen authored the American Planning Association report Planning for Shared Mobility.


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.