Budweiser bike bottleCourtesy blurofinsanity.comEric DePlace at the Northwest policy shop Sightline responds to my question about why we mandate parking at bars if driving in general and drunk driving in particular both harm the public good:

One thing that does work as an alternative to drinking and driving — and I can vouch for this — is walking. Taxis work well too. So do buses. Heck, bikes can do the trick, though I don’t necessarily recommend it.

There’s a larger lesson here though, and it’s that “parking minimums” are nuts. Although they are a staple of land use codes in virtually every North American city, they produce all kinds of strange distortions and lousy outcomes.

Fortunately, there is a solution: free market parking. We should stop forcing property owners to provide parking if they don’t want to. In fact, stripping parking minimums from the books would be a great free market reform that would make for solid public policy and better social outcomes.

Right. Anything that improves public health, cuts fossil-fuel pollution, and reduces cumbersome local-government regulation should be appealing across the political spectrum. What the solution requires is active local citizens who can cajole local councils and planning boards into improving their codes.

As far as biking home from bars, drunk biking is illegal in the handful states I researched. Ethically, it’s preferable to drunk driving, since you’re more likely to injure yourself than anyone else, and a bike can’t do nearly the damage that a Ford Explorer can. But it’s also a bad PR move that won’t help bikers get more respect and better infrastructure.

What say ye, readers: Is intoxicated — but carbon-free — transportation ethically defensible?