Wednesday, November 9, 2011

From private parking to public parking: part of the Adaptive Parking agenda

From private parking to public parking: part of the Adaptive Parking agenda
Alvin drives to a shopping district. First he needs some pliers, so he parks his car in the parking lot of the hardware store. Next he needs the bank, some stamps and a haircut. All are available nearby so he leaves the car where it is and heads off on foot. When he returns to the car, the owner of the hardware shop is angry that he parked there for an hour while running other errands.
Who is right?

The hardware shop parking is private and intended for customers. So maybe its owner has a point. But Alvin did buy something and it would have been ridiculous to get in the car to drive 50 metres for fruit, then again for banking, and again for the haircut. It seemed natural, once he was parked, to treat the hardware shop parking lot as public parking.

We have a conflict and a dilemma. The free private parking that is encouraged by conventional parking policy becomes a source of conflict in mixed-use neighbourhoods. By contrast, both parking management and market-oriented approaches to parking (such as Adaptive Parking), encourage public parking which is well-suited to such areas.

Don't be confused by the word 'public' here. I am not talking about government-owned parking. I am talking about parking that is open to the general public. So public parking is often privately owned.

The conventional suburban approach to parking policy assumes that most parking will be associated with just one premises. In fact, it asserts this as the norm by requiring parking with every development. In extremely automobile-oriented locations, such parking is private simply because many parking lots and buildings are isolated.

This Jeff Tumlin graphic illustrates how parking arrangements in car-oriented suburbia inflate both parking demand and traffic.

Destinations like those portrayed above have nowhere else to walk to easily. So they don't worry too much about spillover and they usually don't need signs like this one below.


However, we have a problem when suburban-style parking policy is imposed on places that are even slightly more dense and urban. Ample parking requirements often keep parking prices at zero. But parking once and then walking seems the natural thing to do. The assumption that each parking lot serves its own premises clashes with the reality of walkable neighbourhoods with multiple destinations. So we see disputes like Alvin's with the hardware store owner.

The Oregonian's commuting columnist and blogger, Joseph Rose, grappled with a similar real-life example in April (although in that case, the on-street parking is priced). And here is a follow-up.

Adaptive Parking prefers public parking over private. 

In fact, this is one of the five central reform principles for Adaptive Parking, which aims to get more of the benefits of market responsiveness into our parking systems.

Why does Adaptive Parking call for more parking to be open to the public (or at least shared) and for less of it to be private? Primarily because Adaptive Parking seeks market responsiveness in parking. This requires park-once districts. And, for various reasons, park-once districts work best with most of their parking open to the public.

Here is the park-once district alternative in another Jeff Tumlin diagram. By the way, the Atlantic Cities profiled Jeff's parking work recently.

If your community decides that it likes the idea of Adaptive Parking, you will need to promote park-once districts with mostly public parking and discourage the practice of keeping parking private.

But how would that solve the conflict between Alvin and the hardware store owner? Adaptive Parking would encourage all of the businesses in the area to make their parking public and open to each other's customers and clients. If demand is high enough, it would also encourage them to price their parking using performance pricing. This would ensure parking availability in the area and allow retailers to stop worrying about free riders, like Alvin, parking in their lots.
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Introducing Adaptive Parking

Introducing Adaptive Parking
[UPDATE: For a more detailed explanation of Adaptive Parking, here is a short conference paper I presented in late 2013 (PDF).]

I ended a recent talk in Delhi with a few words on 'Adaptive Parking'. Now I want to start explaining it in more detail. I also want your feedback so please leave a comment.

So what is Adaptive Parking?

I suggest the name 'Adaptive Parking' for various parking policy reforms that focus on increasing the market responsiveness of our parking systems.

Parking policy in a city that embraces Adaptive Parking would have a clear focus on this goal of making parking more market responsive or adaptive.

But market-responsiveness does not have to be the ONLY goal. You could still use parking policy as a tool for worthy objectives like traffic restraint or helping local retail businesses. But with Adaptive Parking, you would make sure to pursue such goals in ways that also preserve market responsiveness in the parking system.

Parking arrangements in suburban centres are usually far from adaptive. Supply is heavily regulated to produce oversupply, so that the price is zero, killing most market processes in parking. Most parking is private (customer or employees only) so even occasional localised demand in excess of supply will cause a spillover problem and prompt pleas for even more supply. 

Guiding Principles for Adaptive Parking reform

Monday, October 31, 2011

Around the block: parking policy links

Reinventing Parking has been too quiet lately. Sorry!

Here is a quick 'links' post to help me get going with blogging again. By the way, most of these links are drawn from my Twitter feed (where I tweet about parking as well as some wider urban transport themes). I haven't been in the habit of re-posting them here. But I think I should.

Macau is proposing to vary its parking fees by area and time - making it costlier to park in peak hours and in the busiest areas. It looks like they are thinking of this in terms of traffic restraint rather than making parking occupancy the focus of pricing decisions.

at Parking Today blog picked up on my coining of the term "Adaptive Parking" in my last post here. Encouraging. Thanks John!

A Westfield shopping centre in Brisbane just started charging for parking (the first three hrs are free) in order to deter 'free-riders' using it as a park-and-ride lot. Seems reasonable to me, but local reactions seem to range from shock to horror.

Streets Blog has a series of posts on parking reforms brewing in New York City. There are some promising signs and some rather worrying ones.

Park-and-ride Metro-North parking lots in the Connecticut suburbs of New York City have multi-year waits for passes and some screwed up pricing policies. Felix Salmon had some brief and pertinent comments (but a misleading headline). 
The small New Zealand city of Rotorua plans to vary its parking prices in space (but not yet in time).

This one could be big if India's states decide to follow through on it. A review of India's vehicle registration system has recommended requiring car owners to prove they have access to parking before being allowed to register the vehicle. One part of India recently started doing so and Japan has for decades.
Social engineering that promotes automobile dependence: an example of how parking minimums erode inner urban vitality.

Parking reform in California that would have prevented local governments from having excessively high parking minimums near transit stops (among other reforms) has been killed by lobbying.

Creative parking policy reforms in Montgomery County, Maryland. Nelson/Nygaard helped the county navigate a minefield to achieve pro-urban parking policy settings in its urban districts. But abolishing parking minimums was a step too far.

The unfairness of Delhi's extremely low parking prices: The Hindu.

UK's coalition government has announced parking policy changes. Not good. Thoughtful commentary here and here.

Fascinating first hand insights on how residential parking works in urban Japan.
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