Parking Management
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Easy-to-find, affordable and close-to-destination parking spaces have an important economical value to a municipality and its local businesses. On the other hand, parking spots take up a lot of valuable space and encourage car use by making it the most convenient mode of transport. In many cities, parking demand is significantly higher than the available capacity, causing cars to cruise around looking for a parking place and contribute to the city's congestion and air pollution. Parking management aims to manage parking demand and use existing parking places more efficiently. If implemented wisely, it can do a great deal to increase the attractiveness and the use of sustainable modes. In this e-update, we will see why parking management is an indispensible tool for Mobility Management.



Managing parking, managing mobility

According to the very recent ITDP paper "Europe's Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation", several European cities have taken the lead in reinventing parking policy. As 50% of traffic congestion in these cities consisted of drivers looking for the cheapest parking place, parking policies switched to managing parking demand rather than providing more parking capacity. The ITDP paper presents the most innovative parking measures and case studies of 10 forerunner cities in Europe.

Parking management can reduce car traffic in a city by making drivers switch to other modes, having them park their cars in more remote parkings and reducing traffic searching for a parking place. As a consequence, speed and reliability of public transport services can improve. Reducing on-street parking makes space available for bike lanes, bike parking or bus lanes. Permit schemes, taxes and fines raise revenue that can be - or should be - invested in a sustainable transport system.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, for instance soft modes are severely hampered by a failing parking policy. Each day, 800.000 cars congest the city's streets, thereby also reducing the speed and attractiveness of public transport. The number of available parking places in the city centre is only half of what is needed. Few places are charged for, and at a very low rate. As a result, streets and pavements are filled with parked cars, leaving little room for cyclists and pedestrians. In the framework of the BENEFIT project and the EPOMM-PLUS national network, a new parking policy was proposed and discussed with various stakeholders. Through the construction of park and ride facilities and underground car parks, an increase of prices and taxes and an extension of the daily charging period, the municipality hopes to reduce traffic in the city by 25%. Implementation will start in May 2011.



Reserved parking spots for sustainable travel

A first step towards more sustainable travel, is to reserve good parking spots for more sustainable forms of car travel, such as car pooling, carsharing and clean vehicles. Car pool parkings, located near highways or major arterial roads, make it much easier for people to carpool. More and more European cities reserve parking spots for car sharing vehicles. The region of Paris, France, for instance, is preparing to implement a large-scale car sharing system called Autolib' (FR) in October 2011. 700 Autolib' stations in the capital (and 1400 in the whole Paris region) should guarantee a free parking place at all times. Especially in the city, where parking spaces are scarce, this tremendous advantage should be able to make car sharing much more attractive. Furthermore, it was stipulated that all 3000 Autolib' vehicles should be electric cars. This constitutes a big step for the introduction of this type of vehicle to the general public. In some boroughs of London, the take-up of clean vehicles is stimulated by a parking permit scheme where fees depend on CO2 emission - electric cars park for free.



Parking pricing and enforcement

Pricing is a very powerful instrument to influence drivers' behaviour. Prices that aim to recover the full cost of the parking facilities usually reduce parking demand by 10 to 30% as compared with free parking (TDM Encyclopedia). In order to avoid parking problems in areas without parking charges and to assure efficient turnover and the optimal amount of empty spaces (15%), it is crucial to establish the right price for the right place. Parking prices should also be compared to public transport prices, as this will determine the relative level of attractiveness of each mode. According to the ITDP paper mentioned earlier, European cities generally still charge too little for both on- and off-street parking.

As for the public transport services, good information on parking prices and the existence of remote parkings and park and ride facilities is of crucial importance. Motorists are willing to change their habits if it can save them money or time. Marketing campaigns can give habitual drivers the little nudge they need to try out alternatives and experience just how convenient they are.

The effectiveness of parking regulation and pricing heavily depends on proper enforcement. In France, CERTU Centre for the Study of Urban Planning, Transportation and Public Facilities) has recently conducted a research to take stock of 20 years of parking policy in French cities (FR). The study revealed significant progress in the implementation of parking policy, such as an augmentation in the number of on-street parking places that are charged for and an increase in the number of car parks. Prices have also been raised and diversified (e.g. season tickets for small vehicles). However, the incentive force of pricing policy has not realised its full potential due to inadequate enforcement . The study found that the rate of fines has dropped from the equivalent of 22 parking hours in 1985 to 8 parking hours in 2005. Drivers were also found to have less respect for the parking rules: whereas parking on an on-street parking place is on average charged for 5 to 6 hours per day, only 2 hours were actually paid for.



Taxation of parking spaces


The city of Nottingham, United Kingdom, is planning on introducing the UK's first workplace parking levy (see the communication leaflet here). Under the scheme any company with 11 or more parking spaces will be charged £250 (appr. €300) per year for each space rising to £350 (appr. €415) within two years. Employers can choose to pay this themselves or pass it onto their staff. It is expected that the levy, which will raise funds to upgrade the city's tram network, will be adopted in other councils too, hence affecting workers on a wider scale. In Nottingham alone 40,000 commuters will be affected. The plan provoked a lot of debate and opposition. Some businesses are already considering the cost implications, and whether it would be better to re-locate outside the town centre.



Regulations for new housing or business developments

Up until now, common policy has been to impose minimum requirements for the number of parking spaces on contracters and owners of new developments. This common practice can be very counterproductive for MM efforts. They cause developers to build more parking than the market requires and stimulate car use. For companies for instance, it feels highly contradictory that they should invest large amounts of money to meet legal parking space requirements, only to be asked afterwards to reduce single car use - and parking space occupancy - through the implementation of a company travel plan and related MM measures. In Japan and in some parts of India, the need for parking requirements for residential buildings and residential parking permits was avoided by the proof-of-parking regulation. Before bying a car, you need to prove that you have a parking space available - one you own or one you lease nearby your home (read more about it in this blog or in this review of parking policy in 17 big Asian cities.) More and more cities replace minimum requirements for the number of parking spaces by maximums. To take into account the context and the accessibility of each area, the Netherlands introduced an "ABC policy" in 1989. Urban areas were devided into three types of zones, depending on the level of public transport access and car access. Each zone has its own parking minimum and maximum (read more here: ITDP paper). Even though the ABC policy has been officially terminated, many cities still use the same principle when applying minimum or maximum parking requirements.

Parking regulation should also stimulate or force developers and owners to work out a MM strategy. One way to do this, is to provide the possibility to "buy off" required parking spaces by setting up a mobility plan for the site and by implementing MM measures. In Dortmund, Germany, for instance the allowed number of on-street and surface parking spaces at the re-developed business park Phoenix-West (see MAX case study C5) was limited due to building regulations. As an underground car park would have been far too expensive to build, the developers were not able to meet minimum parking space requirements. Instead of paying a penalty, the developers set up MM measures to reduce the need for parking. At the new business park Goudse Poort in Gouda, the Netherlands (see MAX case study C4), a maximum number of parking spaces was defined, limited to 1 space per 50 m². Instead of installing parking places at each building, the developers and owners agreed to reduce the number of spaces by having a central parking space. Transport was also included within the service fee that landowners and occupiers pay for centrally-provided services at Goudse Poort.



Coordination and integration

As any mobility management measure, parking management benefits from the integration with other measures, ideally in an urban mobility plan. Also, the coordination between on-street and off-street parking prices and supply should be considered. Some cities, like Zurich and Hamburg, choose to freeze the existing parking supply in the city centre. When an off-street parking place is created, an on-street space had to be removed (read more here: ITDP paper). Here are some examples of integration of parking management with other Mobility Management measures:
  • Walkability
    By improving the quality of the walking environment between parking areas and destinations (see walkability in the TDM Encylopedia), the need for on-site parking decreases and opportunities for shared parking increase (e.g. supermarket parkings can also serve places of entertainment at night). Improved walkability of the environment also encourages "park once trips", where visitors park their cars and then walk to several destinations, rather than driving from one location to the next.

  • Access restrictions
    Experiences in the CIVITAS programme show that combining parking management measures with access restrictions can produce a very effective synergy. Together, they can do much to improve a city's attractiveness and give local trade a significant boost. After the second round of CIVITAS projects, a policy advice note was produced on the integration of parking management and access management (other language versions are available here). In the CIVITAS II Final Brochure (EN, FR, DE), results are presented from the CIVITAS cities that succesfully implemented a combination of measures (p.56-59). The city of Burgos, Spain, managed to decrease the number of cars crossing the city centre from over 2000 to 200. In Toulouse, parking search time dropped from 23 minutes to 5 minutes. The CIVITAS brochure stresses the absolute need for stakeholder consultation and engagement to gain the necessary support for this kind of measures.

  • Public transport improvement
    The city council of Brighton and Hove (UK) integrates its parking policy with the improvement of the local bus network. Since the city council has taken over responsibility for parking enforcement from the police (decriminalised parking enforcement), the city has made it a priority to keep bus lanes and bus stops clear. The parking charges were increased significantly to ensure that parking charges are consistently more expensive than the cost of a daily travel pass on the local bus network. Surplus revenue from parking is reinvested into sustainable transport schemes. By working in partnership with the local bus company, bus services continue to be improved. As a result of these parallel efforts, bus use grows by 5% per year, while the national trend is declining. Within three years, city centre traffic was reduced by 10%. Furthermore, 37% of households in Brighton and Hove have no car, compared to only 19% in the surrounding region (source: OSMOSE database; Brighton and Hove case study).



Saving space


Watch your car park itself, in these automated car parks in Rotterdam, NL (YouTube video left side) and Japan (YouTube video right side).



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