As the City of Omaha considered changes to parking rates in downtown, the Douglas County Health Department studied parking from a different perspective – health. As part of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), staff reviewed scientific literature, conducting interviews with business owners and developers and studied the health consequences of circling block by block to look for a parking space. The results are outlined in a Downtown Omaha Parking HIA summary report.

It turns out that circling for a parking spot can increase stress, contribute to air pollution and physical inactivity (because people walk less if they park right outside their destination). According to the HIA report, these health impacts can be minimized by the recently announced parking management changes designed to move traffic, free up on-street parking spaces and encourage individuals to park in a nearby garage or lot (for a more affordable price).

The map below shows an aerial view of downtown parking, the amount of garage and surface parking.

From a health perspective, if more people are walking around downtown it contributes to a more vibrant area, improves air quality and reduces the stress of trying to find a parking space.