Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rental car company entering hourly car-sharing market

Further proof the Zipcar model works. The Wall Street Journal reports Hertz Corp. is launching an hourly rental car service in New York, London, Paris and Park Ridge, New Jersey.

Zipcar Chief Executive Scott Griffith says the news is "a complete validation of the large-scale potential of the category."

We at Lanier Parking Solutions brought Zipcar to Atlanta because we were able to see its potential in a market that traditionally wouldn’t fit the car sharing model (i.e. lower density and higher car ownership rates).
Our joint venture partnership with Zipcar in Atlanta is the perfect marriage of parking and car-sharing. It allows members to find Zipcars all over the city at great locations that Lanier helped to secure.
As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, anyone can get a discount on a Zipcar membership by applying through

Friday, November 21, 2008

Get Involved

There are many organziations working in Atlanta every day to acheive real change in our transportation system. Here are three that have had an enormous impact with limited resouces.

Citizens for Progressive Transit
Atlanta Bicycle Campaign

I strongly encourage everyone who is interested in making Altanta 's transportation system world class to check out their websites and get involved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pulling Zipcars from a Pez dispenser

Check out the Zipcar parking structure that a Boston architecture firm has designed. Modeled after the PEZ candy dispenser, it saves space and reduces parking costs, making Zipcar a viable alternative.
It's a perfect model for Zipcar, since it doesn't matter which car you get. You just take the next one in the stack.
(Photos courtesy of Moskow Architects)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Have you tried Zipcar? Here's a cheap way to have Wheels When You Need Them

One of the biggest impediments for carsharing to enter a new city is the cost and availability of parking. This is especially the case in cities such as San Francisco, New York and Boston where parking is a premium. It is also an issue in Midtown and downtown Atlanta.
Through a unique partnership between Lanier Parking Solutions and Zipcar, we were able to address this concern. Lanier provides free parking for Zipcars, enabling carsharing to come to our city years before the market would have allowed it.

Special deal on Lanier Zipcar

You can try Lanier Zipcar at a discount. If you apply using this link, Zipcar will waive the $25 application fee and cut your annual fee in half to just $25. You'll also get discounted hourly and daily rates.
Check it out, and let me know how it goes.
If you're not familiar with Zipcar, read this story that the AJC did in September.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In Vancouver, cars, bikes and people are created equal

I recently visited Vancouver, where cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles get equal priority. This is unheard of in Atlanta or most America cities, where the automobile has been a top DOT priority for the past 50 years.
There are no freeways running through downtown Vancouver, and retail stores wrap around every single block. Mixed use, high density development and bicycle lanes are everywhere, yet the streets do not feel over burdened.
Many of my friends who live and work in Vancouver will disagree with that last statement, telling me it takes them 20-30 minutes to get a few miles in their car. Of course, none of them cycles or takes transit. If nothing else, it is an amazing city where cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles co-exist on urban streets.
It's been said, if you build your city for people, you get people, and if you build your city for cars, you get cars. We should build our city for both.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mixed feelings about falling gas prices

Gasoline prices recently dropped below $3 per gallon. This has left me with mixed feelings.

On the one hand I know how much high gas prices have been a drag on our economy. With gas prices declining, it will put more money in people's pockets, which is desperately needed in these sour economic times.

On the other hand, high gas prices have resulted in a real change in people's thinking and behavior. Recently, people have been driving less, using alternatives more, and demanding fuel efficient vehicles.

I recently reported on the upswing in MARTA ridership on my blog. I also recently attended the PACE Awards where the Clean Air Campaign and local TMAs have seen unprecedented demand for their services. These have been exciting times for those of us who would like to see less dependency on the automobile.

The question is what happens if gas prices continue to fall. What if we end up with gas at $1 per gallon? Will people start driving more? Sure they will. We have seen it before, and there is no reason why it would not happen again.

But I am confident that as a nation we have turned a corner with regard to our environmental understanding, which is certain to lead us in a different direction with regard to oil dependency.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Are high gas prices driving people to transit?

With gas well over $4 for the past few months, and gas hard to find at any price in the Southeast lately, I often ask myself what impact it's having on transit ridership. Anecdotally, I have noticed more people on the trains during rush hour. But what are the real numbers?
MARTA recently reported that in the month of July, ridership on the overall system was up 13.2 percent (14 million boardings) over the same month last year. Ridership increased across the board for all modes of transit including increases of 12.9 percent (7.8 million boardings) for rail, 13.6 percent (6.2 million boardings) for bus, and 18.2 percent (37 thousand boardings) for MARTA's mobility paratransit service for seniors and disabled customers.
This does not include the impact of the recent gas shortages that we have experienced. I look forward to seeing those numbers. For more information about how to take advantage of transit in Atlanta go to

Monday, September 22, 2008

Transportation policy and the presidential election

With the presidential election right around the corner, there is no better time to delve into the candidates' positions on transportation policy. The Brookings Institute (an independent research and policy institute) has compiled a comparative list of the McCain and Obama positions on transportation policy.

Please note that most of the comparison is from policy statements found on the candidate's respective websites, but some is from press accounts.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The challenges of determing parking demand

Mary S. Smith is a senior vice president and director of functional design for Indianapolis, Indiana-based Walker Parking Consultants. She is also team leader and principle author of "Shared Parking, Second Edition". I was recently on a panel discussion with her where she spoke about the book. She has also recently written an article in the August 2008 Issue of Urban Land magazine. I was very intrigued by what Mary had to say and write because as a parking consultant, I rely on the "Shared Parking" book and accompanying model to determine parking demand for my clients.

I have often asked my self “how reliable is the standard parking model?” Mary indicates that this issue is very complex. She starts out talking about the challenge of determining demand patterns. She explains that there are many factors that affect demand over time that can not be determined prior to a development being constructed. These include knowing the strengths of the tenants, market forces in the surrounding area, and the mix of tenants at a particular location. As an example, she uses the popularity of restaurant or retail stores, which wax and wane over time. Also, office building tenants change over time, with low employee density law firms being replaced by high density telemarketing firms.

Next Mary spends a great deal of time talking about parking demand (how many spaces should be provided) and how to determine the appropriate parking demand for a particular use and or mix of uses. The bottom line is that this is an even more complex issue than determining demand patterns. However, the industry has settled on an approach that relies on determining a “design day” and adding “effective supply,” then making adjustments for paid parking, mode split and internal capture rates (no one yet has determined what those numbers should be either). I know this does not mean anything to the lay person, but the final conclusion is:

"The Shared Parking model is not intended to be a highly reliable predictor of parking demand at any particular location on a particular day, but rather the recommended number of spaces that should be provided based on a relatively (but not excessively) high standard of care to avoid negative impact on the success of the project."

In other words, the parking demand model will result in enough parking not to get you in trouble but probably more parking than you actually need.
As you can imagine, this conclusion has led to considerable controversy due to the fact that it still leads to some degree of oversupply. Donald Shoup who wrote the "High Cost of Free Parking" has had a lot to say about this.

More about that in my next post.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Get connected - voice your opinion about Atlanta's FIRST comprehensive transportation plan

I recently attended a Stakeholder meeting for the Connect Atlanta Plan and was very impressed with the City's efforts to develop a clear transportation vision for the future. If you have not heard of Connect Atlanta, it is Atlanta’s first Comprehensive Transportation Plan to evaluate all modes of transportation including roadway, air, transit, freight, bicycle, and walking facilities. Yes, I said first. The City incorporated in 1847, and some 160 years later we are in the process of our first Comprehensive Transportation Plan. I guess that is one reason why as a City we struggle so with Transportation.
The plan will guide transportation policy and investment for the next 25 years. I strongly recommend getting involved. Although the plan is well under way, there is still time to comment. The final public meetings begin next Monday.
For more information go to

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Alternative Transportation and Special Event Venues

With Lanier's recent acquisition of the parking and alternative transportation management at the Woodruff Arts Center, I have been doing a lot of research about the promotion of parking and alternative transportation online for special event venues. What I have found is that a lot of event venues around the country do nothing more than provide the traditional static parking and driving directions on their website. Even if they have transit directions, they are an after thought to the parking.
The few venues that have interesting parking and transportation programs are actually baseball stadiums including the Washington Nationals . The National's Way to Go - Transportation Choices section provides fans, at the click of a mouse, all the the information they need to make their transportation choice before they leave for the stadium. You can buy your parking or get transit and biking directions all on-line.
This begs the question as to when fans will be able to pre-purchase their transit pass on-line. The Nationals also offer bike valet. What a great idea.
I look froward to working with the Woodruff Arts Center to bring many of these ideas to Atlanta.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Parking and alternative transportation go hand-in-hand

It is inevitable that at some point in each day the question as to how a parking company can be involved in the promotion of alternative transportation is raised. I thought I would take a minute to address this issue. At Lanier, we recognize that traffic congestion in urban areas is probably the most prevalent transportation problem facing cities today. It is particularly linked with auto centric mobility and the scattering of automobiles throughout a region, which has increased the demand for transportation infrastructures. However, the supply of infrastructures has often not been able to keep up with the growth of mobility. Since vehicles spend the majority of the time parked, auto centric mobility has expanded the demand for parking spaces, which has created parking demand problems in central business districts.

Another important consideration concerning parking is that it consumes large amounts of space. In automobile dependant cities, this can be very constraining as each economic activity has to provide an amount of parking space proportional to their level of activity. Parking has become a land use that greatly inflates the demand for urban land.

One thing is clear. The automobile is not going away soon, but if we can reduce the number of cars traveling into the urban core by just a few percentage points, the entire transportation system will work more efficiently. This includes the parking infrastructure. As a result, Lanier will continue to work with our public and private partners to achieve a greater balance between the auto and other modes of transportation.