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Self-driving Car Fatality Shakes Industry

Self-driving car makers are coping with the ramifications of a road death in a self-driving car. It’s a tragedy that should be of note for the parking industry, as well. I saw the headlines a week ago, when a Tesla with the autopilot system activated crashed into a semi, and I though immediately that this was going to affect the development, testing and proliferation of these vehicles. According to theatlantic.com:

“What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S,” Tesla said. “Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.”

Read the article here.

My stance is that no computer is going to have the same ability to react to a million different driving scenarios that a human does. Sure, humans make more mistakes, but computers have limited perception and comprehension.

Whether or not self-driving cars will become a widespread reality, and whether or not they rearrange the entire parking industry when/if they do, a change in vehicle use is material to parking.

One issue driverless car makers are focused on right now are the legal ramifications of a fatal crash that occurred when a computer was at the wheel, so to speak.

A law firm in England says laws will have to change to accommodate this new technology, reports thisisthewestcountry.co.uk.

Clarke Willmott partner Philip Edwards said: “Existing in-car technology including self-parking systems, cruise control, lane departure warning and intelligent braking programmes are creating whole new territories which remain to be decided in law.

“While self-drive cars could bring long term benefits in terms of safety, reduced emissions and even social mobility, legal protocols will need to be put in place capable of being tested in the courts at all levels.”

When accidents occur, law enforcement and insurance representatives have to establish fault or responsibility. How is that done when a computer is driving? There is a lot of information swirling around the death of Joshua Brown – some news outlets have reported that he was watching a movie while his car drove, others say only that investigators found the remnants of a portable DVD player at the crash. Either way, Brown did not brake and neither did his car. Makes it hard to decide who’s responsible for the accident.

We will see how the legal adaptations play out, but they will be significant to the success of these vehicles.

Read the article here.

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Vets-Only Parking Creates Controversy

Earlier this month, retired Navy Veteran Rebecca Landis Hayes used a “vets only” parking spot in Concord, North Carolina and found a nasty note on her windshield accusing her of disrespect and selfishness. The note’s author, someone who saw Hayes and decided she must not be a veteran, wanted to make it clear that Hayes was in the wrong, reports foxnews.com.

As is the way in the era of Social Media, Hayes went to Facebook to make the world aware of this injustice, and the response was intense – so intense that public opinion on the matter circled back to the accuser and invoked an apology.

The dustup began when Hayes Landis parked in a vets-only parking spot June 13 at a grocery store in Concord. After she went in the store, a person who apparently saw her park – and believed she was not a veteran – placed a note on her car: “This parking is for veterans, lady. Learn to read & have some respect.”

Hayes published the apology she received from the still-anonymous writer of the letter, and hopefully, the world can move on. I don’t mean the minimize the importance of our veterans or say they don’t deserve recognition and gratitude for their service, but maybe dedicated parking spots are not turning out to be the perk they’re meant to be – especially because enforcing them is impossible.

Reserved parking spots for vets seems like a great gesture and it’s possible they love the privilege – but it’s possible they don’t. Maybe someone should ask them. Maybe this is a situation where too much is just too much. If I were Hayes I wouldn’t go anywhere near a vets-only spot in the future – who needs the aggravation?

Read the article here.

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And So it Begins

I have been musing for some time on the topic of parking industry ‘outsiders’ buying up parking suppliers. What is going to happen when well knows firms are purchased by the giants of the economy (Google, Microsoft, Ford, IBM, Xerox)?

It looks like we are going to find out. BMW has purchased Holland’s Parkmobile Group . According to the brief news release announcing the April purchase, the auto giant made the move “in order to offer more services to its customers and to become more than just a car manufacturer.” They also comment that the technology will be available to other car companies. Fair Enough.

When I read the piece Astrid put up on parknews.biz I was surprised by how short it was, merely six sentences. It also described the app company as supplying the user with parking availability and notification if their parking time is running out. Strange that it didn’t mention what I would consider the central aspect of Parkmobile, pay by cell.

This is the problem. BMW buys Parkmobile, and no one in the BMW PR department knows what it is they bought. Oh, I’m sure they will catch on, but its unfortunate that such a dynamic company as BMW can’t get their act together.

It seems to me that the Bavarian car maker wants an app to integrate into their ‘connected car’ program and after an investment into US’s Parkmobile LLC in 2014, purchasing the European Unit makes sense.  They can integrate it into their smart dashboard and you will be paying for you parking without ever touching your phone.  I suspect that the app will grow with the power of BMW behind it and will begin to operate into more and more markets, along side other Pay be Cell companies. After all, what good is it if you buy a BMW in Nashville and Parkmobile doesn’t cover Music City.

As one of the Hunt Brothers supposedly said, a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you have some real money. BMW has deep pockets. Putting more money in a Parkmobile, now a division, is as simple as sending a memo.

Consider what it means when major economic players begin to gobble up not just high tech app companies but viable PARCS companies as well. This won’t be a 3M fiasco where they bought Federal’s unit to get one technology and were forced to take another, too. These will be strategic purchases to grow their product lines, and our marketplace.

All you suppliers out there better dust off your PR and be ready when someone calls from Detroit, or Redmond, or Silicon Valley. Mark my words, they will.

Parkmobile is only the beginning.


Update:  Parkmobile in the US has been quick to point out that BMW purchased Parkmobile Group, or PMG, which is a Dutch company and a separate company from Parkmobile GLobal US. They note that the purchase will have little effect on them. More info as it is available.



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Metered Parking for Sale by the Day

In Montclair, New Jersey, parking meter spaces can be rented by the day, reports northjersey.com. It’s not a new policy, but an old one that’s been brought into the open in an interesting way. Franco Porporino, general manager of Fresco, pays for the use of two metered parking spots in front of his restaurant on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and uses them to provide valet parking for his customers.

Porporino is taking advantage of a parking policy that allows movie making crews, street fair organizers and other entities to rent the metered spaces by day for $20. Residents get a 50 percent discount on that rate, so Montclair locals could technically buy use of a space for the entire day on any day they want for only $10. But this is not a perk they’re really aware of.

“If this is the policy, then the public should know it, and I don’t think the public knows it,” said David Jones. “Then there is the deeper question of if this is a good policy when applied in this manner. People have to make their own judgments about that.”

It may be that Montclair city leaders will be facing an open can of worms with this policy. Its original intent was to provide for activities that had limited duration, but the valet service at Fresco is going on every week, year round.

“I honestly don’t know whether he’s exploiting a loophole or not. We’re aware of it, and we’ve laid off of it while the parking study was underway. Now that it’s coming to a conclusion, we’ll have a meeting and we’ll talk about this, not just for Fresco, but for all downtown restaurants,” at-Large Township Councilmember Rich McMahon clarified.

As a civilian, I wouldn’t pass up a chance to buy a parking spot for the day and use it however I want. I can’t see the benefit for my city financially, but I could use a guaranteed space for several excursions I’ve been planning. I’m going to have to see if this is an option where I live.

Read the article here.

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Don’t Take It Out on the Meters

A 30-cent per hour increase in parking meter prices in Southwest Washington, D.C. has allegedly incited acts of vandalism against meters in the area. According to afro.com, the higher prices have made parking more difficult in an already congested neighborhood. The vandalism is seen as retaliation. It has drawn attention because of widespread destruction of meters during the middle 1990s when more than 3,000 meters were smashed to pieces. Those incidents cost the city millions.

While some residents voiced disdain over what they perceived as predatory increases in parking and speeding fees, others are concerned that the city is witnessing the beginning of public service-related acts of destruction – reminiscent of those in the 1990s that cost the city roughly $500,000 a month in lost revenue.

Whose to say these recent events are in response to meter increases or just random theft? But the destruction of parking meters is a bad sign. Either criminals have reached a high level of comfort stealing in public; or people are genuinely so upset about parking rates that they are taking it out on city property.

Whenever there is a change in the cost of parking, it’s a good idea to provide publicity that includes something like a 24-hour complaint hotline or a large suggestion box placed in a central location. People need an outlet for their angst when public policy affects them in ways they feel are negative. Social media has everyone feeling more committed to their right to be validated, so before meters start going down, give residents an official opportunity to vent. Being heard does a lot to dispel anger.

Read the article here.

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Street Repair as an Allegory for Life

As you know, My neighborhood has been going through the rebuilding of our streets. This has been going on for a year.

We were told that we had to replace our curbs before the streets could be done. That project started a year ago. We had new curbs and old streets, with driveways disrupted — the new curbs didn’t fit the old streets. Things were worse than before they started, and that was last summer and fall.

Then they began rebuilding the street.  First trimming the first layer of asphalt off, then actually replacing it with a temporary covering (they said they wanted the streets to be nice for us over the Christmas Holidays).

It seems we also needed new water mains, so the street work stopped and the water folks started (so the new street surface would cover the cuts in the street.)  They dug a ditch, installed the mains, filled the ditch and paved over it.  They then cut the street again in front of each house and hooked up the mains to each service, replacing the meters with ‘smart meters.’ And paved those cuts.  That took a couple of months.

Construction then began in earnest. Huge machines were brought in and all the pavement was removed. Road graders reshaped the ground under the streets and a first layer of asphalt was laid down — Another six weeks passed.

Note that it seemed that between each part of the process, the city had to stop and take a breath. Crews disappeared. Machines left and then a week later returned.

Finally the big day came. The base was finished. The next day, the road surface was installed. It took only one day to lay down the actual roadway. But an entire year to prepare for that big event.;

I guess life is a lot that way. We spend years preparing for an event (college graduation, the Olympics, the Super Bowl, that new job, marriage, having children, retirement) but the event itself is over in the blink of an eye.

The adventure isn’t the new road that we now drive on every day, it was the year of preparation, the complaints, the joys, the frustrations. Its almost like the road construction, like that pole vault at the Olympics, is over in a moment.

From my point of view, the journey through life is what that is important. Like the construction of the roadway, its all in the preparation. That preparation is life.

We watched the crews and learned a bit about how roads are made. We marveled at the machines that took up half a block. We laughed at what seemed to be complete folly, as the street was scraped, paved, cut, filled, and then scraped and paved again. And we cried a bit when cars backed into open ditches and had to be pulled out.

Today the crews have moved on to another neighborhood to start all over again. Today life continues. Lunch with a friend, frustration with a broken sprinkler, a cut that takes forever to heal, damn Microsoft, Verizon becomes Frontier and service sucks. Like my street, just more weaves in life’s rich tapestry.





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Anything Can Happen in a Parking Lot

There’s no end to the list of unusual things that happen in parking lots. Babies delivered, deer hunted, murder, and the occasional proposal of marriage. Something on the happy end of weird recently occurred in a parking lot in in Anchorage, Alaska: a baby moose was born.

According to and.com (Alaska Dispatch News), the mama moose settled down in a Lowes parking lot and gave birth. Alaskans are used to seeing moose, so they weren’t surprised to find one in the parking lot, but they were very excited to witness the baby’s arrival.

Anchorage wildlife photographer Coby Brock, 38, drove out to the Lowe’s at the Tikahtnu Commons shopping center on Muldoon Road after hearing about the newborn on Facebook. He said the pair were sitting in the shade in front of a Jeep, and the baby was still pretty wobbly.

The moose paid the price for her choice of delivery location by having to give birth in front of 100 cell phones, but both she and her calf looked to be doing well. Lowe’s staff put up a few barriers to block foot and auto traffic until the moose and baby left the area.

For the rest of the article, including pictures, click here.

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Women in Parking — It is Sexist?

I am working with Colleen Niese on the WIP issue of Parking Today. Melissa Sterzick wrote an article for the edition which pointed out that one of the problems women have is that they are trying so hard to be the same as men, but they aren’t.

She noted that Australia has a garage with “pink” parking spaces reserved for women. Some, including some women, consider this sexist. She titled her article “Different but Equal.”

An article I read about special parking bays for women made me contemplate how I really feel about accommodating the differences between the sexes. The Pier Street Car Park, in Perth, Australia has designated 28 parking spots just for women. The spots are painted pink and labeled and the area includes upgraded lighting and extra CCTV cameras. Compliance is optional and the parking garage’s management hopes the honor system will handle enforcement for them.

When I try to think about it objectively, my opinion is that men and women need different things to succeed and they need different things to be safe. Fulfilling those needs is a good idea.

Anyone who has lived on this planet for more than a few years knows that men and women are different. Not only in their physical abilities, but also in how they think and how they live their lives. So its not unreasonable for an organization to be founded with the idea that there are differences, and that both sexes need to have those pointed out and considered.

There is no question that women are most often targeted for crime. Its also a fact that women shy away from parking structures and would prefer to park in an open lot. They know inherently that a surface lot is safer than a huge structure. So why is it unreasonable to have spots with extra security, lighting, and locations near elevators and exits.

It is also true that as Melissa points out, men and women need different things to succeed. A woman might need more information to move forward with a project than a man. Not that the man is smarter, but a woman is wired to want to be as knowledgeable as possible. Lets face it, men often succeed by simply ‘muddling through.”

But often those additional tools a woman needs to succeed aren’t apparent. Having a mentor (From Women in Parking, for instance) to help her overcome the frustrations of lack of information isn’t only handy, it can be essential.

There have been few studies done to ‘prove’ women multitask better than men. In one study there was the following conclusion:

Men and women under time pressure had to juggle simple mathematics problems, answer the phone and decide how to find something lost in a field. During the study, the women were found to be calmer, better organized and planned more carefully than the men. But even if this difference is real, we still don’t know whether it is biological or culturally imposed.

And frankly, do we or should we care (Biological vs cultural). Its it there, its there.

I think Melissa has hit it on the head.  Different but Equal. Read her entire article in the upcoming July issue of Parking Today, powered by Women in Parking.


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All Hail, Parking

Storm season isn’t over in the Plains states. Another ugly bunch of weather is circling the region right now. Reading about the tornadoes, hail and floods hitting the middle part of the country reminds me of my years in Texas and the seasonal fear of possible damage to myself, my home and my car. I’ve seen what hail can do to a car and I remember well the rows of Cadillacs protected by covered parking at dealerships where I lived.

Car dealers in Texas and other areas hit by hail recently are trying to sell off their damaged stock, some of which was damaged by hail, repaired and then hit again in a subsequent storm. According to automotivenews.com:

San Antonio is the latest victim, with a storm last week piling on more damage after one in mid-April that the Insurance Council of Texas declared the costliest hailstorm in state history.

More than 110,000 vehicles throughout the storm zone were pelted by large hail, causing about $560 million in damage, the group said. The April 25 storm was less intense, but that was no comfort to dealers already scrambling to deal with thousands of dented vehicles.

That’s a lot of dented cars. Because these storms are infrequent and impossible to predict, dealers take their chances showing cars out doors and buy insurance in case the worst happens. They call this rush to sell damaged inventory “hail mode” and some are willing to point out the silver lining.

“It actually is not always bad,” Islam Hindash, general manager of Mission Mitsubishi in San Antonio said, “because people want to take advantage of the dollars.”

If I were selling cars for a living in Texas or anyplace where golf-ball-sized hail is an option, I’d want them under covered parking, or better yet, indoors.

Read the article here.

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The IPI Convention — Where everyone who is anyone in Parking Goes to Meet

Yes, this week is parking week in the US, and ground zero is Nashville. the IPI has planned an exciting event for members and non member alike. If history is any gauge, this one should be a humdinger.  If you want to learn about it, go here.


Nearly 300 suppliers and Lord knows how many people will converge on the home of Country Music to teach, learn, network, and just have a good time. It looks like Shawn and Bonnie have again done a super job.

Parking Today Media will be there in booth 1923 and will be showing off our brand new web site (check it out here.)   Plus find out everything about parknews.biz , Parking Today, and the Parking Industry Exhibition 2017.

I’ll be around, plus Astrid and Marcy will be adding excitement to our presence and maybe to the conference as well.

We look forward to a great week in Nashville, and to seeing old friends and making new ones.

Plan to drop by.





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