Monday, March 1, 2010

Parking Management key to successful transportation system

When I left the Perimeter Transportation Coalition (PTC) to come work for Lanier Parking Solutions, many people asked how someone who worked so hard to promote alternative transportation could work for a parking company. I would say that I am a big advocate of paid parking, because it encourages people to think about the cost of driving trips, and as a result they may change their travel behavior (i.e biking, walking, transit, and carpooling). Ninety-nine percent of all U.S. driving trips end in free parking spaces, but when the economic and environmental consequences are considered, these parking spots are not free at all. Smarter parking management, which is what Lanier has touted for the past decade, will benefit consumers and businesses in time and money saved. This has now been confirmed by a recent study by Insitute for Transportation and Development Policy (TTDP).
"U.S. Parking Policies: An Overview of Management Strategies," co written by Professor Rachel Weinberger, John Kaehny, and Matthew Rufo, illustrates how parking management in most U.S. cities creates additional traffic and air pollution and feeds auto dependence. As long as parking is considered independently of transportation policy, parking demand and traffic will continue to increase in the form of excess auto trips, on-street parking shortages, and a decline in the overall pedestrian’s environment. This is not only true from a macro level (region and city) but also from a micro level (mixed use development and retail establishment). Traditional parking policy prioritizes private automobile use, undermining the use of public transit, walking, and bicycling as travel modes, spurring significantly higher household travel costs for all.
A balanced transportation system, with the automobile and parking being one component, is the end game. The parking policy of the past 30 years has been a huge impediment to creating such a system. But as the ITDP study indicates, there seems to be change in the air. Download the full report.

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