Everyone agrees that the average taxpayer struggles when they’re dealing with city parking problems. Usually, municipalities and policymakers share the burden of solving issues related to parking and congestion. If smart city planners and urbanists care about mobility, they need to pay more attention to innovations in parking at both tech and policy levels.
What Is Causing Today’s City Parking Problems?
The number one culprit for the eating away of road space today is illegal parking, not to mention the overpopulation of automobiles continually finding a place to park.
However, if you look closely, the city parking problems are mostly symptoms of policy failure and bad governance. It was ultimately regressive urban planning that incentivised private car ownership over other modes of transport. Another issue is the lack of data and awareness about where parking spots are available – people often have to drive around for at least 30 minutes before finding a good parking spot, sometimes having to resort to illegal parking if they are in a hurry.
For instance, a study by the RIHA revealed that Philadelphia and New York have 2 million and 1.8 million parking spaces respectively, but still faces severe congestion and illegal parking on the roads during rush hour. Smaller cities like Jackson, WY, has over 100,000 parking spots to accommodate just 10,000 citizens.
What’s worse is that misinformed policies cause car-owners to occupy elite public spaces for aiding only a few who own cars. Simply put, the present-day urban parking norms are subsidising vehicle ownership at the expense of countless citizens who use public transport.
Another area of concern is the non-integration of smart parking technologies within the policy gamut. Many a time, there are an unusual number of vehicles on the road simply because the drivers are unaware of the empty parking spaces located around them. Smart parking systems use cameras, low-cost sensors, and real-time data that equips drivers with current information on the nearest available and unavailable parking bays.
How to Rid Cities of Parking Nightmares
It is instrumental for urban policymakers in the country to develop laws that disincentivize private car ownership. Authorities can begin by completely doing away with free parking on busy streets. Counties must charge the correct market price for on-street parking. Enforcing all this will require adequate supervision by authorities along with transparent parking fee collection mechanisms.
Minimum parking requirements must be repurposed as they inevitably lead to hidden costs and underutilisation of space. For instance, parking spaces outside a commercial building reserved for employee vehicles utilised for only six to eight hours a day must be made available to cars during other time slots. Urban planners, in collaboration with policymakers, must design ride-hailing and ride-sharing pick-up and drop-off points near public transit hubs to discourage the use of private vehicles. Furthermore, policymakers must devise a framework to integrate smart parking solutions to enhance parking efficiency.
Encouraging the use of autonomous vehicles can also reduce city parking problems like congestion – a study from Rutgers University, Camden showed that the ownership of just one autonomous vehicle can benefit 20 human drivers. The study also shows just 5% of all cars in a city were autonomous, there would be a 40% reduction of total fuel consumption as a result of changing driving behaviour in the city. Clearly, smart mobility is the need of the hour.
The government must acknowledge that the time has come to center urban parking policies around future-proof, eco-friendly smart parking solutions. Drafting better-informed plans involving automated parking lots, autonomous vehicles and smart parking services and ensuring their implementation will award our cities transit-oriented development and reduce traffic congestion as well as parking woes.