Free parking for free people: German road laws and rights as constraints on local car parking management

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The paper is based on research conducted with support from the German Academic Exchange (DAAD) Research Stays for Academics funding. While German cities vary in their transport patterns and mobility cultures (Klinger et al. 2013; Scheiner 2012); they have in common federal laws including those defining the purpose of public streets and the basis of rights to them. This paper examines how such higher-level legal norms and rights relating to public streets shape and constrain parking management across heterogenous German cities. Following Treib et al.'s (2007) typology of modes of governance, the paper argues that certain binding or ‘hard’ federal policy dimensions frame competing claims to curb space. They do so in ways that privilege parked cars as traffic; and that constrain the limited political frameworks within which German cities may vary their approaches to parking. They also define the conditions through which emerging forms of mobility are able to be established (Marsden et al. 2020). The paper draws on interviews, primarily with transport planners, undertaken to compare car parking approaches across 8 German cities with different transport mode shares; and on a desktop review of parking and related laws mentioned in these interviews.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-33
Number of pages11
JournalTransport Policy
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Australia
  • Curb space
  • Germany
  • Governance
  • Mobility culture
  • Parking
  • Parking policy
  • Rights

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