When cities car-centric more people drive, which leads to unhappy traffic time and toxic CO2 emissions. Several of the most successful cities around the world utilize more public transit and design the streets for more pedestrian opportunities. While redesigning a city is a massive project, reducing the need for parking isn’t.
Lovely walks in the sunshine become demoralizing when you’re faced with a soulless stretch of black concrete. Not only are these flat spaces demoralizing, but they’re also extremely expensive. Abundant parking lots contribute to even more car use, which then compounds the initial problem of sprawling, auto-centric cities.
Citizens and city planners can take a step in the right direction by supporting and utilizing developing parking technologies. Parking apps can help users find available spots faster. Self-driven cars can join profitable sharing fleets and reduce the need for ownership. Bike shares and robotic parking towers can encourage a healthier means of transportation. These developing technologies will begin to reform urban mobility as we know it.
While the goal is to remove parking lots as much as possible, we can start by using the ones we have more effectively. Usage of current parking is more efficient with continuously updating apps to track available parking. Cities like San Francisco, NYC, Boston and Seattle are already widely utilizing apps like VoicePark, Can I Park Here? and PrimoSpot to find spots faster. In addition to saving drivers time and money, these apps reduce the need to build more parking garages.
San Franciscans use an app called “Park.It”, that helps you find legal spaces and sends alerts if you run over a time limit or spot is no longer safe. The app works through the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency, which provides open-source data for live sensor updates on available spaces. New York City planners got creative and hosted a competition for parking apps, to help improve transportation. Cities can improve one step at a time, and streamlining current parking usage is a great first step.
Perhaps one of the most exciting oncoming vehicle technologies is the self-driving cars. Test runs are already being conducted for in U.S. cities like Pittsburgh and self-driving truck platoons taking pilot journeys through Europe. The technology is here, and the simple issues will be resolved within the next few years. Engineers are working out the kinks of endless potential obstacles, and stakeholders are testing the waters of public opinion. As Tesla and other leading companies advance in autonomous driving technologies, we are likely to experience a significant transportation shift.
Once regulators approve the technology, self-driven cars will become a type of vehicle chauffer. Not only would cost be lowered, but the need for soulless parking lots would greatly drop. With increased sharing possibilities, workers won’t need to park their cars. Sharing fleets will enable owners to send out their vehicles to generate additional revenue. Since most owners only use the car for 5 to 10 percent of the day, the added income would drastically lower the actual ownership cost and greatly reducing the need for parking lots.
Once you’ve improved usage of current parking and reduced to need for car ownership, it’s time to support a healthier form of transportation: cycling. To fit their extensive populations and support sustainable transit, cities like Tokyo have built robotic towers as valet systems for bicycles. Many of the self-parking garages are underground, which is even more space-efficient. These bike-parking towers provide the next level for city design and effective parking.
Like a vending machine for bikes, these robotic towers will store your bicycle for as little as 25 cents. Often in a hexagonal framework shape, the machine has rows of slots for convenient parking. The robotic tower is in a hexagonal framework shape. It can cost as little as 25 cents for usage. Places like Tokyo are already utilizing the underground valet systems for bicycles. Though the United States isn’t quite on board with these robotic parking techniques, places like Washington D.C. and New York City have bike shares, which go a long way in improving storage efficiency.
Another way to promote sustainable transit is by increasing bike-friendliness with more bike lanes. Though nowhere near as advance as European cities like Paris and London, several U.S. cities are slowly jumping on the cycling bandwagon. For example, Salt Lake City converted several blocks of parallel parking into bike lanes. Not only does that directly eliminate parking spaces, but also begins to reduce the need for car usage. As an additional perk, cyclist customers on average spend more than their driver counterparts. In Salt Like Cities, retail sales on transformed streets rose nearly 20 percent.
Improving or Eliminating Parking
The best way for cities to improve quality of life for their citizens is to improve or eliminate parking. By using and supporting development of parking technologies, everyone can make a positive impact in city design. Staying informed and taking part on city budget allotment is another great way to participate. Start using parking apps, envision the future of autonomous driving, look for bike lane opportunities, and start the conversation for parking reform.