Monday, December 13, 2010

Around the block: parking links roundup #2

Around the block: parking links roundup #2
It has been a long time since the last roundup of links. No matter. Here goes.

View from the rails, 1972 Credit: Flicker user Hunter Desportes (cc) (via Yonah Freemark)
New Jersey Transit Authority has an enormous number of park-and-ride parking spaces which are now proposed for privatization. Market Urbanism, Yonah Freemark and Felix Salmon think it is a rotten idea. A key danger is that this will cut off numerous transit-oriented redevelopment opportunities long into the future.

Julie Anne Genter of McCormick Rankin Cagney con
sultants talks to New Zealand Radio about Shoup-style parking policy. Clear explanations and insight on parking in suburban NZ. Hat tip Pete Goldin at Parking World blog.

Beijing is reportedly considering strong traffic constraint policies. Unfortunately in the short term the rumours have prompted much debate and a surge of panic car buying. The plans are reported to include a Japan-style proof-of-parking rule. 

An academic paper has estimated the number of USA parking spaces (maybe 500 to 800 million!) and their environmental impacts.

photo of a "vertical parking lot" in Chicago, circa 1930. I am amazed these existed so early.

Residents in the West Lakes suburb of Adelaide, South Australia, are outraged, OUTRAGED!, that the local Westfield mall wants to implement paid parking (although the first 3 hours will be free). I should know better but I still find it odd how angry people can get about the prospect of priced parking in car-oriented suburbs.

Mumbai, India has second thoughts about its year-old policy that allows developers to build bonus floor space ("bonus FSI") provided they also build public parking to hand over to the municipality.

GTZ's Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP) has launched a Video Portal on urban transport policy innovations. It includes some parking policy videos.

Mark Chase at the Parking Reform blog asks, How much should parking cost?, and makes us think by reframing the question in various ways:
  • How much parking do we need at "you-name-a-price"?
  • Often the assumption is not-enough-free-parking or not enough cheap parking. Really the question is what is a target price for parking?
  • Another key question is should we subsidize parking? If yes, for everyone? 
  • What is the right *target* price for parking. This goes beyond just setting the price to achieve a good occupancy rate. Really we're asking: how high will we let price go before we build (or require a developer) new parking?

Karthik Rao-Cavale on "Parks vs. Parking: What do Indian cities need?" on his blog, India lives in her cities too!    "Chennai had prepared a plan some years ago for a multi-storey parking deck in T. Nagar where the Panagal Park now stands..."

Market Urbanism finds a paper on parking politics in 1920s Boston. The issues sound strangely familiar.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Alternative ways to get the Parking Policy in Asian Cities report

[Update: the Study can also be downloaded via SSRN.]

If you had any problems seeing or downloading the Final Consultant's Report version of Parking Policy in Asian Cities via my last post, there are alternatives below.

I had feedback that downloading from Scribd requires you to sign up or login with a Facebook account. It is also blocked in China. Oops!

So I have made a Google Docs alternative for downloading the report.

And here below is a link via SlideShare which should work in China (but this still requires a log in if you want to download)
Parking Policy in Asian Cities final consultants report nov 2010
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The "Parking Policy in Asian Cities" report is here!

Today I am releasing the Final Consultant's Report version of Parking Policy in Asian Cities. Below you can browse or download the report which investigates parking issues in 14 large Asian cities.

Many thanks again to everyone who has helped with the study. I hope it will be useful. Please do give your feedback and reactions!

I plan to draw your attention to various specifics from the study over the next few months. But here below is the whole thing for you to dip into yourself. Try clicking "fullscreen" at the top of the Scribd window below. 

I have made many corrections and improvements since the May 2010 draft which I shared with various people. Today's version is now very close to final. ADB is expected to publish the study more formally after more editing to bring it in line with their publication guidelines.

[UPDATE: If you have problems with the Scribd version below, there are more options to get the report in the next post.]

Parking Policy in Asian Cities Final Consultants Report Nov 2010
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who should enforce on-street parking rules? Not the Police!

Who should enforce on-street parking rules? Not the Police!
Police tend to have bigger things on their priority lists than enforcing parking rules. But parking enforcement is important!

So most parking experts say the police force is a poor choice to tackle an illegal parking problem.

Which agency handles parking enforcement where you are? Is it working well?

Since 1991, local governments in the UK have been able to take over their on-street parking enforcement from the Police (and most have done so, such as this example). Peter Guest at the Parking World blog tells the story of "one of the decisive moments in the history of parking in the UK".  The trigger was
"... a terrible incident in London when illegally parked cars blocked fire access to an apartment building and as a result several children were burnt to death. At this point it became clear that the Police could not do the job and the argument changed from trying to get them to do a better job to taking it off them." 

Of course, that doesn't eliminate griping from UK motorists about 'overzealous parking wardens'. In fact, effective enforcement probably increases these complaints. Hint: if complaints about parking enforcement outnumber complaints about illegal parking, then enforcement is probably doing OK.

Here is a team of European experts on who should get this responsibility:
Powers for enforcement should be delegated to the local authorities in ways comparable to the Dutch, Spanish or UK approach. Legislation also must make it possible that income from parking fees and fines are made available to the local authority, being the authority in charge of enforcement. ...  This legislation should also provide for the possibility to contract the actual work out to private parties.  ...   The result is that enforcement of parking rules need not compete with the other priorities of the police and so get the priority that is needed.
[Source: "Parking Policies and the Effects on Economy and Mobility" (pdf) report of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action 342.] 

Singapore joined the club this month when its Land Transport Authority took over the enforcement of illegal parking offences from the Traffic Police. And in Japan, a set of 2006 reforms greatly improved the effectiveness of parking enforcement by allowing local police to delegate parking enforcement to private contractors.

Of course, the authority to write parking tickets is useless if you can't impose any consequences for non-payment! This is the problem faced by Malaysian municipalities. 

Malaysian police officers in action against illegal parking in Kuala Lumpur.
If you ignore this fine, you may be unable to renew your registration next year.

This Kuala Lumpur City Hall enforcement officer is also writing citations for illegal parking (photo taken 5 minutes after the one above). However, ignoring his ticket will NOT land your car on a blacklist. For some reason, the Federal Government hasn't agreed to cooperate with local governments to make this happen. No surprise then that many motorists simply ignore parking fines issued by local governments in Malaysia. 

So in desperation, the Malaysian municipality of Subang Jaya in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, is trying something new
... motorists who double-park at USJ 10 (Taipan) may find a yellow tag attached to the side mirrors of their vehicles.  To have the tags removed, they must drive to the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) headquarters across the road and settle an RM80 fine.  The enforcement officers will then remove the tags when the motorists present proof of payment.

Again, which agency handles parking enforcement where you are? Is it working well?
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This new parking management guide is a gem

This new parking management guide is a gem
Parking Management: A Contribution Towards Liveable Cities was released this month by GTZ's Sustainable Urban Transport Project

You can download it HERE (4MB pdf) or visit the SUTP web site to read a summary before downloading.   

The 50-page booklet is by Tom Rye, Professor of Transport Policy & Mobility Management at Edinburgh Napier University.

It is a wonderful resource, rich with detail on parking management policy options and real-world examples. Even better, it has a special emphasis on the needs of cities outside the 'West', with examples from every populated continent.

I don't agree with everything in it but that doesn't stop me from recommending it whole-heartedly. I would urge anyone with an interest in better parking policy to download it and digest it carefully.

I will try to post a detailed review when I get some time.

For now I will just mention that, in terms of the parking policy 'paradigms' discussed in this post, GTZ's sourcebook is firmly in the 'parking management' camp in which parking is viewed as a tool for serving wider goals in transport policy and urban planning. If you like the sound of that, you will like this booklet.

This is the poster on Parking Management by GTZ which was shown
at the recent Better Air Quality Asia Conference in Singapore. 
Click the image to magnify. 
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Presentations from Melbourne's "High Cost of Free Parking" seminar

Presentations from Melbourne's "High Cost of Free Parking" seminar
On the 4th of November, Australia's Institute for Sensible Transport (gotta love the name!) hosted a parking policy seminar at the Melbourne Town Hall with the title "The High Cost of Free Parking".

As the name suggests*, a highlight was the keynote by Professor Donald Shoup of UCLA. Also featured were Profs Graham Currie and William Young from Monash University.

You can now download presentations and audio files from the event from HERE.

The downloads available include:
  • A podcast of Professor Shoup's keynote address
  • Two Shoup presentations: One on parking pricing policies and one on minimum parking requirements.
  • A podcast of Professor Currie's keynote address
  • Prof Currie's presentation on the impact of the Melbourne car parking levy
  • GTA Consultants presentation on car parking strategies in activity centres

While in Australia, Prof Shoup also spoke at the 12th Australian Parking Convention and Trade Exhibition (APC2010) which was held in Sydney on 7 to 9 November.


*  "The High Cost of Free Parking" is the title of Shoup's now famous book on parking policy.


Update: fixed a broken link to the Town Hall seminar.
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Parking basics: contingency-based planning in parking policy

Parking basics: contingency-based planning in parking policy
Many municipalities would like to lower their minimum parking requirements a little to make them less excessive or to make them better match the local conditions of each site. This might seem a small and easy reform but even this most modest of parking policy changes often provokes controversy, with fearful voices raising the specter of parking chaos.

This is where "contingency-based planning" can help. Here is Todd Litman's Online TDM Encyclopedia to explain:
Contingency-Based Planning is a Planning strategy that deals with uncertainty by identifying specific responses to possible future conditions. ...
A contingency-based plan typically consists of various if-then statements that define the solutions to be deployed if certain problems occur: if parking supply proves to be inadequate then we will implement certain strategies, and if those prove to be insufficient then we will implement an additional set of strategies. 
For example, a Contingency-Based parking plan might initially allow developers to build fewer parking spaces than required by conventional minimum parking standards, with a list of solutions that will be applied if that proves inadequate and motorists experience significant problems finding parking or neighbors experience parking spillover problems. 
These solutions might include a combination of additional capacity (some land might be reserved for future parking lots, or a potential budget identified to build a parking structure, if needed), various Parking Management strategies (such as programs to encourage employees to use alternative modes, arrangements to share parking facilities with nearby buildings, and increased regulation and pricing of onsite parking), and improved enforcement if needed to address any spillover problems.

Contingency planning allows extra supply to become a last resort not the default choice.

So requiring 'potential parking' rather than parking itself (as I mentioned in a recent post) is one example of contingency-based planning applied to parking. 

In response to that same post, Donald Shoup emailed to point to an example from the Silicon Valley which is mentioned in his 2005 book:
To deal with the uncertainty in predicting the demand for parking, some cities allow developers to provide fewer parking spaces if they set aside land that can later be converted to parking if demand is higher than expected. Palo Alto, California, allows reductions of up to 50 percent in parking requirements if the difference is made up through a landscaped reserve, and none of these landscaped reserves have subsequently been required for parking. One apartment development was granted a request to defer 22 of the 95 parking spaces required by city code, using the land instead for a family play lot, a barbeque area, and picnic benches, Nearly 15 years after construction, the landscape reserve has not been needed for parking, and the open space constitutes an important environmental and social benefit for the community.
[See page 43  (and a chapter endnote from there) in the High Cost of Free Parking.]

Litman's Online TDM Encyclopedia page provides an example of a contingency-based parking management plan for a development that has been permitted to provide fewer parking spaces than traditionally required. It lists 20 interventions that could be tried (in phases) if any parking problems emerge. These would be tried BEFORE considering resorting to increasing supply. They include:
  • Improve parking information with signs and a parking facility map.
  • Shift from dedicated parking spaces to “open” (shared) parking spaces in each lot.
  • Impose 2-hour limitations on the most convenient parking spaces.
  • Encourage employees to use less convenient parking spaces.
  • Improve enforcement of parking regulations and fees.
  • Establish an evaluation program, to identify impacts and possible problems.
  • Price the most convenient parking spaces.
  • Arrange shared parking agreements with neighbors that have excess parking supply.Install bicycle storage and changing facilities.
  • Establish a commute trip reduction program.
  • Gradually and predictably increase parking fees (e.g., 10% annual price increases).
  • Improve area walkability and address security concerns.
  • Provide real-time information on parking availability using changeable signs 
  • Develop overflow parking plans for special events and peak periods.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Should all parking be easily convertible to something else?

Should all parking be easily convertible to something else?
Yesterday, I suggested an alternative to minimum parking requirements: requiring a certain amount of space in a building site be convertible to parking. I wondered if this could help wean cautious municipalities away from excessive minimum parking requirements.

That prompted me to speculate about the CONVERSE.  Should we require that parking be easily and cheaply convertible to something else? 

Could the parking levels in this condo easily be converted to other uses if car ownership drops in the future?

How could it work? 

Maybe an addition to building codes could require developers to submit a plan explaining the renovation steps that would convert the parking to general floor space. A cost estimate for these steps  would need to be below some reasonable threshold.

But why bother?

The idea is to reduce the extent to which the parking supply is locked into the landscape. This could be very important in places without much surface parking, such as many parts of many Asian cities where most parking is within buildings (in basements or parking floors above ground) and sometimes in stand-alone structures. Some of these cities are currently requiring 2 or more car parking spaces per 100 square metres of built space. Are we sure they will need that much for the lifetimes of those buildings?

If you live in a city where most parking is surface parking then you may not see an issue here. However, some layouts of surface parking relative to buildings would be easier to build on than others.

Making parking space easier to convert would be prudent if there is a good chance of a significant drop in demand within the next decade or two. An epidemic of Shoupista reforms could do that? So might peak oil or serious climate change policy action. Pedestrianization of city-centre streets can also leave parking facilities stranded, so car parks in such locations would be good candidates to be designed for easy conversion.  

How much would this add to the initial cost of a parking facility? I am not sure.

If the extra costs are relatively low but the chances of a big drop in parking demand seem high enough within a short enough time horizon, then requiring convertibility might be a good idea. I haven't done any such calculations yet but it seems like something worth thinking about.

Does the real estate industry currently foresee a big risk that today's parking supply may end up being surplus to requirements? I don't think so. What would it take for such a risk to prompt voluntary efforts to design parking for convertibility? What would it take for parking convertibility to be a selling point for buildings?

Has anyone heard of examples anywhere in the world?

I know that  a few years ago several shopping centres in Singapore did convert some of their basement parking into retail space. Junction 8 in Bishan is one example, I am told. This came after Singapore lowered its minimum parking requirements. Owners of existing buildings are allowed to reduce their  parking if it is in excess of the new standard. I don't know how challenging these Singapore conversions were or how expensive. Maybe this suggests that conversion is already relatively easy?

Anyone?

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Require "potential parking" rather than parking itself?

Does abolishing minimum parking requirements (as Donald Shoup suggests) sound too radical? Is there a low-risk alternative?

Maybe local governments don't really need to require parking itself. Maybe they could simply require POTENTIAL parking?

I am imagining a municipality that still wants to make sure parking supply meets demand and wants to avoid the risk that the parking associated with a new development spills beyond its parking lot into the streets or into neighboring lots.

I can imagine a conservative version of this idea, in which a city allows developers to have less parking than the current minimum but the city reserves the right to later (and at short notice) require that the on-site parking supply be increased (up to the current minimum for example) if there is evidence of any serious spillover. Such a policy would allow developers to start with modest parking supply but they would have a strong incentive to design their sites in ways that allow parking to be easily expanded.

A more ambitious and reformist version could simply require that the site have a certain amount of 'potential parking' (space which could be 'easily' converted to parking space) but then leave it to building managers whether they ever actually do any such conversion. This would be closer to a Shoupista-style deregulation and abolition of parking requirements, except that the risk of getting locked into a serious shortage is reduced. Of course, we would need to define what we mean by 'easily' converted.

This is not a new idea, by the way.

It seems to be an old one which has been forgotten. The suggestion to require convertible space rather than parking itself was apparently first made by a young Gabriel Roth in his 1965 Hobart Paper, Paying for Parking.  Roth's paper should be downloadble via VTPI - go to the bibliography at the bottom. However, I can't get the link to work right now so maybe it is broken.

I think the idea deserves more attention and debate. 

Does it sound feasible to you? Could a suburban municipality be open to requiring potential parking instead of requiring parking itself? If anyone knows of any analysis of this proposal or something similar I would love to hear about it.

I also wonder why Roth's original suggestion was ignored? (or did I just fail to find the debate?) Was it because his publisher was a right-wing voice in the wilderness at the time?
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