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Car Park Problems: Increasing Numbers of Large Cities With Growing Parking Needs

Posted by itsparker on May 21, 2010


My post of 10/30/09 entitled “Car Park Problems: The World Search for New Parking Space”, outlined the trend, particularly in the U.S., toward large parking lots and garages; the world growth in vehicle ownership and the accompanying extensive need for more parking. As cities grow larger, even though they include various forms of transit systems, they will have more cars and more drivers accessing their many centers – the center of the city itself; transit stations, airports, shopping centers, medical centers, universities, etc. – requiring more parking space.

Business Week in its November 13, 2008 issue provided a good perspective on the implications of high growth in cities, changing our historical world perspective on the geography of cities. The article, entitled “China Prepares for Urban Revolution”, projects what is apt to happen to Chinese cities up to the year 2025. Some of the article highlights:

  • China will have 8 megacities (if megacities are defined as >10 million population) or 23 megacities (if they are defined as >5 million population). China will also have about 221 cities with a population over 1 million.
  • The Chinese growth in cities dwarfs that of all of Europe which now has 35 cities with populations over 1 million. And European city average annual growth rates range from 0.3% downward to annual population losses. The fastest growing urban area cited? Beihan, China – 10.58% per year!
  • The Chinese city growth is expected to require the construction of 50,000 skyscrapers above 30 stories over that 15 year period – an average of 3,333 high rise buildings per year. How many large adjoining parking garages will be required, considering the phenomenal growth in car sales underway?
  • The Economist, in an article on 11/13/08, entitled “The Art of the Possible”, projected car growth rates for China. It expects that China will have overtaken the U.S. in car fleet size in 20 years, by 2030. By the year 2050, China will have almost as many cars as the entire world today!

Two excellent sources of information on city and urban area growth around the world are:

Demographia, for example, indicates that the world currently has 342 urban areas with populations of 1 million, to in excess of 5 million. Its data also indicates that the world currently has 10 megacities with populations over 10 million; 55 total megacities with populations over 5 million. It also lists 171 urban areas with populations >2 million, including:

  • China – 25
  • USA – 21
  • South America – 20
  • Europe – 17
  • India – 15
  • Japan – 5

Note: Typical USA urban areas with populations around 2 million include Denver, St. Louis and Baltimore.

The City Mayors web site indicates that urban areas with populations >1 million, include:

  • China – 100
  • Asia (other than China, Japan and India – 64
  • The Americas – 45
  • Africa – 19
  • India – 18
  • Europe – 18
  • Indonesia – 16
  • Japan – 12

If China is going to have as many cars as the U.S. in just 20 years, where are they going to park all those cars? How about all those other fast-growing cities around the world with huge annual growths in car ownership rates? It would appear to represent a terrific multi-billion dollar/year big business opportunity – especially as ITS-Park deployment is initiated and expands.

Its parker

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Car Park Problems – Airport Terminal Space and Remote Park Issues

Posted by itsparker on November 8, 2009

Here’s another part of the nature of parking problems, and the need for a much better solution.

You and the family head for the airport, flying somewhere on a vacation trip. You must make a choice between two necessary evils: (1) you can park at a remote parking lot to minimize the cost of parking while you’re away; or (2) you can park in the airport’s long-term parking structure and pay a higher price, with a long hike to your gate. Choosing the lower cost remote lot you follow the parking operator’s minibus to a vacant stall; maybe stand outside in the cold while the driver assists another traveling group; load all your luggage; climb aboard in a tight squeeze; wait through other passenger pick-ups and endure a usually rickety ride for ten minutes or so; unload your luggage again at the airport entrance and tip the driver. Or, you enter the airport’s huge long-term parking structure and search for an open slot, hoping to get lucky before you have to spiral up three, four, five or even six floors. You then unload all your luggage, carry and pull it to the elevator; wait; ride the elevator down, and hike further to the terminal entrance. Upon your return you can expect to pay maybe $15 or $20 per day storage fee for being gone for a week. And, anxious to get home with tired kids, wait in a long line at the cashier kiosks to do so.

Airport Growth

ICAO (The International Civil Aviation Organization) expects world airport traffic to grow at an annual rate of about 3.5% over the next decade, or approaching 50% over a decade. international travel will grow at a rate of 5.2% annually, around 1.75 times over a decade.. This means continued huge growth in land takings for parking needs – and difficulties in finding it. Also, airports themselves are becoming edge cities. Travel related businesses – hotels, offices, restaurants and remote parking facilities cluster close by. Most of these uses typically depend upon separate free-standing parking lots or garages.

Detroit Airport Parking Choices in 2008

 Getting to an airport by car and finding appropriate parking has become big business. Detroit’s airport, for example, has the following variety of choices, for a total of about 34,000 lot and structure spaces available, with most in use during busy holiday periods.

  • North Terminal – 4,100 covered spaces, costing $10 daily for good long-term parking spots and $9 for less convenient ones
  • Yellow and Green lots for $10 per day
  • McNamara Terminal – 11,500 covered parking structure spaces, costing $19 daily for long-term parking (This terminal is now planning to introduce a new program called “Select Park”. This program will cater to rushed travelers willing to pay more for spots closest to the terminal. Customers will be able to go online and reserve a specific spot within a special area of the garage. An attendant will point them to their reserved spot. Of course, these users will pay an additional premium for this service).
  • Off-site parking – four different sites, one with 5,000 spaces charging $11 daily or $59 per week; one with 1,000 spaces at $8.25 per day or $58 per day; one with 4,000 spaces for $10 daily or $54 per week; one with 5,000 spaces at $10 daily or $55 per week.

How do the Detroit prices and parking choices compare with yours? Do you get frustrated – with cost, convenience, searching, riding a shuttle, standing outside in foul weather, and/or long walks – every time you drive to your local airport? Shouldn’t there be a much better way? How soon do you think we can get there with automated car parking?

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Car Parking Problems – Park Free Opens Big Mall to Edge City Issues

Posted by itsparker on November 4, 2009

You head for a regional mall to do some shopping. You drive halfway around its ring road and enter one of the many large surrounding parking lots. It’s a bit busy today but still you  park only about 12 or 15 cars from a store entrance. There’s plenty of parking, the parking is free, you feel very safe with all the other people coming and going in the parking lot, and your walk takes only a minute or two. Once inside you have a climate controlled stroll past several hundred different stores, like the downtown you experienced growing up – but even better because you’re never exposed to any bad weather problems. You spend an hour or two shopping, then head for a close-by restaurant to meet friends for lunch. You get in your car and drive once again, even though it’s only a thousand or so feet away. You park again, free and conveniently, with another short to the restaurant’s entrance.

 Another day, you drive to a smaller mall, a “strip mall”, and the free parking is even more convenient, the walk to the cleaners or drugstore only fifty or a hundred feet. Maybe you also go to an office building or to a big box retailer (Think Wal-Mart, Target or Home Depot) with the same parking convenience. There are all kinds of free standing commercial buildings located an easy drive of five miles or less, each with its own surface parking lot. The City Administrators, through stringent zoning controls, have dictated how many parking spaces are required for each kind of business activity – from malls to offices to restaurants to medical centers, etc. And each one guards its parking spaces from intrusion by parkers who might be going elsewhere. Transportation analysts cite this as the reason for undesirable suburban sprawl – requiring everybody to get into their personal car, to go anywhere. And it all gets worse as malls, and the areas surrounding them grow and expand.

Growth of Regional Malls

 Regional malls that start out relatively small, keep on growing over the years – sometimes in exceptional terms. Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, started as a regional mall in the late 60’s, with one to one and a half million square feet of shopping space. In the 70’s it added hotels and office buildings, growing to house some 30,000 employees. By 2008 it had grown to 120,000 jobs and 28 million square feet of office space. It also included huge amounts of parking space – about 40 million square feet in total, enough to house 135,000 cars! It has more parking than jobs; more parking than office space; more parking than in downtown Washington, D.C. One visitor is quoted as saying: “It’s almost impossible to walk here”. Yet current planning is underway to grow it even further.

The Houston Galleria mall opened in 1970 with 600,000 square feet of retail shopping space. By 1986 it had expanded to 1.6 million square feet of retail, plus office space and two hotels. By 2003 it had further expanded to 2.4 million square feet of shopping, with other upscale shopping centers nearby, plus it included three big office towers.

How do you transform such traffic-clogged “edge cities” into vibrant, people-oriented, park only once, downtowns? What do you do with all those building isolating parking lots and structures? ITS-Park offers appropriate – and needed – new answers.

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Car Park Problems – Management, Design and People Use Issues in Cities

Posted by itsparker on November 2, 2009

We hear and read a lot about the macro aspects of automotive transportation – freeways and streets and congestion; much less about the micro aspects of the end of a journey – putting away that “people-container” we rode in – car parking. Yet parking management decisions have huge impacts on the overall design of communities and their appeal to the people using parking and the adjacent streets and sidewalks. The list of community related parking problems is extensive, including:

1. Parking supply and demand:

  • Inadequate parking supply that is inconvenient, difficult to find or expensive; too little near the front door of where you’re going
  • Lack of affordable parking space preventing financially feasible development of land use parcels  into desirable housing and parks
  • Excessive parking supply- too many large lots and parking garages that impose environmental costs as well as excessive indirect costs on users
  • Zoning laws that specify minimum parking requirements and require single use projects developments; emphasize parking supply solutions: accumulating anywhere from 3 to 5 parking spaces per car or as many as 11 spaces per family; leaving us with churches and big box retailers providing parking areas twice as large as building size

2. Parking location and access:

  • Lack of user information – ease of obtaining parking information
  • Poor convenience of walk from parking space to final destination; poor pedestrian accessibility
  • Negative streetscape impacts that interfere with people use and discourage active street life; detract from downtown vibrancy
  • Bad land use policies replace store fronts with lots or garages
  • Excessive auto dependency that requires getting into a car for every trip

3. Economic, environmental and social impacts:

  • Impervious paving of parking surfaces causing stormwater runoff problems
  • Heat island effects from acres of blacktop paving
  • Huge social costs where consumers pay parking costs indirectly
  • The cost of off-street parking for small businesses
  • Tax policy that encourages speculative retention of downtown property by conversion to parking lots

4. Community design and quality of life:

  • Excessive separation of buildings creating sprawl and forcing excessive car use for individual trips
  • Boring parking lot and/or parking garage “dead zones” which interfere with community aesthetics and degrade walkability

The Victoria Transport Institute website, TDM (Transportation Demand Management) contains a comprehensive review of most every conventional parking solution you can imagine – some 39 pages worth! A highligfhted section on that website is entitled “Parking Management Paradigm Shift”. It goes on to say that the paradigm shift is from an emphasis on parking quantity to an emphasis on parking quality – shared parking, parking pricing, adequate parking information and walkability improvements.

The introduction of ITS-Park can/will introduce new opportunities for enhancing the management, design and people use of cities – stay tuned for further discussion of these opportunities.

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