Often underestimated in liveable community planning, parking deserves more attention than it gets. With numerous urban centers facing a shortage of available and convenient parking, there is no better time for communities to start addressing such concerns to improve sustainability and liveability.
A pressing challenge that municipalities today face is striking the right balance between parking supply and demand. When additional parking spaces are built without properly managing existing supply, demand for parking increases, adding to the pressure on land. Effective management of existing spaces is thus important to reduce demand and encourage citizens to use underutilized parking spaces.
Parking design and management have a serious effect on a community’s liveability. A necessity in residential and commercial areas, parking demands proper attention as a crucial aspect of urban living that affects travel behavior and our environment. Just the perception of available parking can immensely influence a commuter’s choice of mode and the economic competitiveness of an area. A common solution proposed for a shortage of spaces is to build additional parking lots. However, they are expensive to build, with revenue potentially not being able to cover costs.
Communities need effective parking management
The primary goal of parking management is to create improve space availability near businesses and commercial areas so customers can easily find a spot. Municipalities can undertake different parking management strategies to this end:
- Regulate pricing to limit off-street parking while incentivizing alternative modes of transportation. By pricing parking spaces with high demand at low rates, municipalities can ensure that adequate space remains available for customers. If rates are too high, customers will go elsewhere; if they are too low, long-term parkers will stay in the premium spots; when they are optimal, one or two spaces will be available at each lot throughout the day
- Design ‘park-once’ districts that allow customers to park and walk short distances between locations, thus reducing overall parking demand
- Create transportation demand management strategies that increase transportation efficiency by changing travel behavior and parking demand
The objective of parking management strategies is to encourage users to shift to different modes of transportation, drive at different times of day, combine trips etc. Ultimately, such actions help reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
When it comes to paying for parking, the process should be made as simple as possible. Here, smart parking solutions can help by offering users a variety of payment options. For example, a business meeting might need someone to park for an uncertain period of time. In such a case, the ability to remotely add time to a meter (facilitated by smart parking) would be extremely convenient.
Planning for liveable communities
The impact of parking management strategies varies according to a number of factors. Moreover, they are likely to have a significant impact when commuters have alternative transportation options. Either way, parking strategies can be effectively employed to affect land use, congestion, and environmental degradation, freeing up parking spaces for short-term use.
By understanding existing supply and demand and communicating parking costs associated with the public, municipalities can implement the right parking policies. How they plan for and provide parking will affect how liveable our communities will prove to be.