Quite often, most cities focus on traffic issues due to the menace of high levels of traffic congestion. People dread the thought of being stuck in traffic congestion since it has a tendency to get worse and may take several hours to clear. But what is more problematic than traffic congestion is the parking problem, which is hidden in plain sight as it is not considered to be as much of a problem.
When people consider the problems vehicles present, they tend to look at the vehicles in motion and overlook the vehicles at rest, but it is the latter that takes up more space, resources, and infrastructure than the former. Whether it is work, shopping, dining, watching a movie, hospital visits, or anything for the matter, the first thing that comes to mind is finding a parking spot, let alone a convenient one.
The consistent rise in the number of vehicles is the primary reason for parking issues in the majority of the cities and the lack of a proper parking management system has only added to the woes.
What Studies Say?
In numerous cities, real estate developers are required to provide a certain number of parking spaces in anything they build as mandatory parking minimums. Sadly, vehicles at rest are consuming a major part of our cities with oceans of asphalt covering them. Some analysts have revealed that Western Europe has in excess of 300 million parking spots and the United States boasts of over 2 billion parking spots.
The usage of these parking spots is a variable that is left unused for a minimum of a quarter of a day, while these many parking spots are still not enough during the peak hours. According to research, a standard single parking space measuring a little over 6*3 meters is equivalent to the space needed for a Parisian studio apartment, three office cubicles, or a low-income house in India.
The largest parking lot in the world is at the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, and it boasts of more than 20,000 parking spaces. The total landmass of West Edmonton Mall’s parking lot is as much space required to house a neighborhood of a minimum of 500 homes. This is one such example of wasted landmass for vehicles at rest and if we calculate all the landmass that is occupied by parking lots around the world, the figures would be mind-boggling. This is an example of a poor parking management system.
What is the Current Scenario?
With the rise in global living standards and accelerated urbanization, particularly in India and China, several cities across the globe have witnessed a massive spike in ownership of motor vehicles and thereby the demand for parking space. In India, the number of privately owned vehicles grew by a whopping 400% between 2001 and 2015, which is a growth from 55 million vehicles to 210 million vehicles. In 2017, China witnessed a shortage of 50 million parking spaces, as reported by the central government.
The impact of the rise in parking spaces and improper parking management system has been drastic since the covering of large landmasses with asphalt is directly resulting in deforestation, climate change, increased heat, etc., along with wasteful usage of the landmass. Unfortunately, cities are losing their battle to the rising need for more parking space, which, sooner or later, will result in fateful effects with regard to the environment, economic, housing, farming, etc.
How Can Parking Issues Be Solved?
First and foremost, we need to understand that the parking issue is a land-use problem. Next, we need to understand that building more parking lots is not the solution to parking issues. So, can this issue be fixed?
- Turn Parking Minimums to Parking Maximums – Every city has mandatory parking minimums, but what about parking maximums? Very seldom do the people, corporations, government, etc., think about mandating parking maximums. Conversion of parking minimums to parking maximums is one of the strong points of a good parking management system.
- Implementation of Parking Management Software – This is perhaps one the best ways to curb the need for more parking space as it allows the users to book their parking spot anywhere for a set duration. The users will have the freedom to check the availability of parking spots, book it, and pay for it. Prepaid parking spots will also help mitigate the overuse of a parking spot by a user as it will attract a penalty. Parking management software also ensures hassle-free and smooth flow of traffic.
- Better Infrastructure – Research has revealed that in the city of Mexico, 250,000 parking spaces were built at 10,000 USD per parking space between 2009 and 2013, which could have been used to build 18 lines of rapid bus transit that is capable of moving more than three million people a day. In short, the money funded to build parking spaces could have been used to build better transport infrastructure, which will eventually reduce the need for more parking spaces.
- Dynamic Parking Fee – This is also a subdivision of the implementation of parking management software. A dynamic parking fee system will change the parking fee by assessing the demand for parking space. In short, more demand for parking space means a costlier parking fee. This will directly reduce the demand for parking space and ensure fewer vehicles resting at public places.
- Vertical/multi-story Parking Lots – Parking lots spread out over a large landmass is always preferred over multi-storey parking lots for convenience purposes. However, in this case, it is necessary for real estate developers and the government to prioritize the proper use of landmass over convenience.
It is now or never, the majority of the cities have already lost about 40% of their landmass to parking lots, which is more than housing units. Going at this pace we are bound to lose more landmass than ever to parking lots, which are essentially idle spaces. It is the responsibility of the authorities as well as the people to be mindful of the landmass we have already lost and mitigate the further wastage of landmass through parking spaces. RentPark can help develop the most intuitive and dynamic parking management software to ensure a resourceful parking management system.