The real world has too much parking for SimCity

An interview with SimCity designer Stone Librande contains a revelation about real-world urban design that's stuck with me:

The Philosophy of SimCity: An Interview With the Game’s Lead Designer. The Atlantic. Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley (2013-05-09). [We] were originally just going to model real cities, but we quickly realized there were way too many parking lots in the real world and that our game was going to be really boring if it was proportional in terms of parking lots.

Librande mentions measuring various places in Google Earth for the game, and that's an exercise worth doing to understand your own neighbourhood.

When I started measuring out our local grocery store, which I don't think of as being that big, I was blown away by how much more space was parking lot rather than actual store.

The same is true here in Vancouver, where the parking bylawParking By-law. By-law 6059. City of Vancouver. requires space for one car per 20m² of supermarket floor space.

A typical Safeway in Vancouver's Collingwood neighbourhood, and its equally large parking lot

Since each parking space takes up 14m², the parking lot is practically guaranteed to be bigger than the grocery store itself.