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30% Cruising rate isn’t really accurate…. Don Shoup

It seems that the discussion about the 30% cruising rate is continuing. Here is an email stream between UCLA’s Don Shoup and Steven Polzin, Director, Mobility Policy Research, Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida.  Highlighting is mine.

First Shoup starts the discussion:

Hi Steve,

I agree with what you say about the 30 percent in your Planetizen post.

http://www.planetizen.com/node/87288/playing-telephone-transportation-data

I appreciate that you mentioned the “appropriately qualified data in the original paper.” Unfortunately, many people who have never read The High Cost of Free Parking often think I said that 30 percent of city traffic is cruising for parking.

I did summarize the results of 16 studies of cruising in 11 cities on four continents.  Researchers found that between 8 and 74 percent of traffic was searching for parking, and it took between 3.5 and 13.9 minutes to find a curb space.  For the 16 studies the average share of traffic that was cruising was 30 percent and the average search time was 8.1 minutes.

As I explained in the book, the data in these studies, which date back to 1927, were probably not very accurate when they were collected, and the results depended on the time of day, the specific place, and the season when the observations were made. The studies were selective because researchers measured cruising only when and where they expected to find it—where curb parking is underpriced and overcrowded. Nevertheless, cruising today is similar to what drivers have done since the 1920s, and the studies at least show that searching for underpriced curb parking has wasted time and fuel for many decades.

On most streets at most times, no one is cruising. But many people want a number, and I can’t stop anyone from saying that 30 percent of traffic is cruising. Nevertheless, on busy streets where all the curb spaces are occupied and traffic is congested, a substantial share of traffic may be cruising.

For example, when researchers interviewed drivers who were stopped at traffic signals in New York City, they found that 28 percent of the drivers on one street in Manhattan and 45 percent on a street in Brooklyn were cruising for curb parking. This doesn’t mean, however, that 28 percent of all traffic in Manhattan is cruising for parking or that 45 percent of all traffic in Brooklyn is cruising for parking.

On a congested street where all the curb spaces are occupied, one simple way to estimate how much of the traffic is cruising is to observe whether the first car that approaches a newly vacated space parks in it. If, for example, the first or second driver who approaches a newly vacated curb space always parks in it, this suggests that most of the traffic is cruising for parking.

An even simpler and quicker (though perhaps less humane) way to sample the traffic flow is to approach the driver-side door of a car parked at the curb with a key in your hand, as if to open the door. If the first driver to see you with a key apparently poised to unlock the door always stops to wait for the space, most of the traffic is probably cruising. The stopped car blocks a lane of traffic just like a double-parked car. Unfortunately, you must then use body language to suggest that you have changed your plans and have decided not to leave, regrettably disappointing the driver who expected to park in the space. If you do this several times, and the first or second driver to see you with a key in your hand always stops to wait for a space, what share of the cars in traffic would you think are cruising? When I did this on Pike Place in Seattle, the first driver who saw me with a key in my hand always stopped traffic to wait for the space.

Because most streets usually have some vacant curb spaces, the share of traffic that is cruising on most streets is probably zero. Because curb parking is underpriced and overcrowded in the busiest parts of most of the world’s big cities, however, the sun never sets on cruising.

Don Shoup

Steve Responds:

Thanks for getting in touch. As you can tell, my frustration was that people have generalized your results to “cities” leaving off reference to time, location, and geographic scale over which the numbers could appropriately be applied. It was pretty obvious to me that the 30% number was incidental to your work but the number that folks latched on to. In light of the nature of the data it would’ve been perhaps better to not calculate or show a simple average.

Regarding current trends in cruising for parking, my perception is that in many areas the fundamental nature of how we provide parking now versus decades ago could be changing the extent of cruising. Much more parking is in structures integrated with destinations and less appears to be on the street. Perhaps some of that cruising is circulating within garages. I don’t follow this body of data but my guess is variation in context is huge. In many of the newer cities, Dallas, Houston, Tampa, Atlanta, etc. that developed primarily during the auto era I suspect the extent of cruising for parking is very limited.  If I had to guess I would suspect that cruising for parking is less than a percent of total national vmt. Also curious as to what share of VMT used to be spent by people looking for a location before we had GPS?

Steven E. Polzin, PhD

polzin@cutr.usf.edu

And Don responds:

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your message and for your post in Planetizen questioning whether 30 percent of traffic in cities is caused by drivers looking for parking.

I agree that most cruising occurs in older areas were built before cities invented minimum parking requirements. Since the 1950s most cities have required so much off-street parking for any new development that few drivers need to cruise to find a free space. Cities have “solved” the problem of cruising for on-street parking by requiring plenty of off-street parking everywhere. As a result, cruising as a share of total VMT in the US must now be very small. Nevertheless, cruising as a share of VMT in areas built before minimum parking requirements can still be very high.

Minimum parking requirements, however, are an extraordinarily expensive and damaging way to reduce cruising. Minimum parking requirements are propagated by pseudoscientific data that come from Institute of Traffic Engineers’ publication, Parking Generation. Unlike a careless statement that 30 percent of traffic is cruising for parking, the ITE’s parking generation data have done enormous damage, as I tried to explain here and here and here.

If researchers want to delve into transportation numbers with dubious pedigrees, they have a target-rich array of data to debunk, starting with the ITE’s Parking Generation and Trip Generation.

I appreciate your calling attention to the frequent claim that 30 percent of city traffic is cruising for parking. I agree with your explanation that newer parts of cities have much less cruising because they provide so much off-street parking.

I hope more transportation academics will follow your lead and challenge other flaky transportation numbers, especially the ITE’s parking and trip generation data. Placing unwarranted trust in the accuracy of uncertain data can lead to disastrous policy choices.

Don Shoup

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Cities in UK skipping “Smart City” programs

Research published in ITS International has noted that cities in the UK simply don’t see “Smart City” programs as a priority. They lack budget, leadership and capability. Here is what the article said in part:

New research, commissioned by street lighting experts Lucy Zodion and conducted by independent research agency DJS Research, has highlighted the risk that many local governments are lacking the budget, leadership and capability to progress smart initiatives and connected technology in cities across the UK.

The research, involving 187 councils from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, reveals that smart cities are not deemed a strategic priority for the majority of councils in the UK and identifies barriers to delivery that are stifling progress in many local authorities. Without a clear roadmap to delivery from Government and a coherent, cost-effective approach, the UK risks lagging behind other countries with an inconsistent and delayed roll-out of smart cities.

Five major barriers to delivery were highlighted during the research: a lack of funding, a lack of internal prioritisation, a lack of evidence, insufficient collaboration, and a general lack of confidence amongst council leaders. A model of momentum, identifying six key stages on a council’s road to smart cities, also maps out the lag between those leading in smart cities and those yet to engage.

It seems to me that the issue is simple. “Smart City” is a complex, expensive program and city councils (Local Authorities in the UK) don’t understand it. Or maybe they do understand but don’t see that the investment will make life easier for Britons or return dividends, like say a good parking enforcement program or a review of their tax structure might do.

Politicians in large cities are only too quick to jump on the next bandwagon (Green, Apps for everything, light rail, Smart City) to garner favor with voters and burnish their high tech bonafides. Often they have no clue what they are advocating. “It contains “tech,” it’s new, it must be good.”

Seems to me like the city mums and dads in the UK are taking a longer view of this program before jumping in.  Maybe reducing crime, replacing infrastructure, providing solid education is on the top of their lists.

Perhaps Sydney, London, Los Angeles, and even Columbus Ohio have the resources to bring huge dollar amounts and intellectual capital to bear on this topic. Smaller cities may not.

I’m certain companies with vested interests like Cubic, Xerox, IBM, Google, Siemens, and the rest will be knocking on their doors. That’s a lot of heavy hitters to hold off. Time will tell.

JVH

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Shoup — Istanbul weighs in

Got this from Turkey:

Dear John,

I have just seen your blog piece “The SHOUP Controversy – Are 30% of the cars in a given neighborhood looking for parking?” It is possible to “estimate” how many cars are induced to cruise for parking in response to one more car parking at a parking location. One does not need expensive surveys or measurements; administrative parking data is sufficient to estimate this. We explain the methodology in the following paper.

http://econpapers.repec.org/paper/tinwpaper/20150117.htm

For example, in our application of our methodology to a parking location in Istanbul, we find that a marginal car parking at the location results in on average 3.6 cars to cruise for parking in the next hour. The external costs created by this is substantial and is in the same order with the external costs of traffic congestion. I cannot cite any recent statistics on the percentage of cars cruising for parking in traffic, but I agree with Shoup that external costs created by cruising is as important as those created by traffic congestion while dealing with them (with policy) is relatively easier.

The paper in the above link is a former version. We have a revised draft, which I can share with you if you want.

All the best,

Eren

Eren Inci
Associate Professor of Economics
Sabanci University
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Orhanli-Tuzla
34956 Istanbul TURKEY

Web: http://myweb.sabanciuniv.edu/ereninci
E-mail: ereninci@sabanciuniv.edu

We have a very long reach, sports fans.

JVH

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Want a Parking Management Marketing Report? They left out WHO?

I get emails about everything. Today, for instance, I got an email hawking a “Parking Management Marketing Report.”  Wow, that seems interesting. So I asked for the ‘brochure’ which describes the document.

It was extremely interesting and seemed to cover all aspects of the management market, particularly the equipment suppliers. The headline listed: Xerox, 3M, IBM, Siemens, Kapsch, Swarco, Amano are some of major players in Parking Management System Market.

I had certainly heard of all those — but began to wonder a bit at the inclusion of 3M, since it closed its parking division well over a year ago. I then took a close look at the table of contents and found  a list of companies included in the report. They were: Xerox, 3M, IBM, Siemens, KAPSCH, Swarco, T2 Systems, Amano, Cubic, and Skidata.

Understand that this is a comprehensive list. But – what about TIBA, Designa, ParkingSoft, Hub, IPS, Cale, Scheidt and Bachmann, Parkeon… and that’s just off the top of my head.

Oh and you can get this “comprehensive” 160 page study for a mere $4250.  They take all credit cards.

One wonders if they asked anyone in the parking industry to take a peek at the report and see if there was anything that might have been left out? If you want a report on parking management systems that left out Scheidt and Bachman but included 3M, drop me a note and I’ll forward the link.

JVH

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Barter Agrees with Shoup — Kinda

Paul Barter commented on my Shoup post — I thought it worth of bringing out into the light of day. Here it is:

I agree to some extent. There has been a lot of sloppy quoting of the 30% thing!

But it is not as bad as you imply here. Cruising for parking CAN cause a huge mess, especially in busy areas, at busy times, and especially when parking is mismanaged.

How much traffic is cruising for parking? Well, it depends. Often there is no cruising for parking. But at the places where it really matters, there it is potentially a LOT of cruising (sometimes more than 30% of traffic).

I tackled this question too: http://www.reinventingparking.org/2013/10/is-30-of-traffic-actually-searching-for.html

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Could Shoup be RIGHT?

The Shoup Dog read my blog below and responded — Here it is:

Hi John,

I sympathize with your friend who doubted that 30 percent of city traffic is cruising for parking. Unfortunately, many people who have never read The High Cost of Free Parking often quote me as saying that 30 percent of city traffic is cruising for parking.

I did summarize the results of 16 studies of cruising in 11 cities on four continents.  Researchers found that between 8 and 74 percent of traffic was searching for parking, and it took between 3.5 and 13.9 minutes to find a curb space.  For the 16 studies the average share of traffic that was cruising was 30 percent and the average search time was 8.1 minutes.

These studies date back to 1927.  The data were probably not very accurate when they were collected, and the results depended on the time of day, the specific place, and the season when the observations were made. The studies were selective because researchers measured cruising only when and where they expected to find it—where curb parking is underpriced and overcrowded. Nevertheless, cruising today is similar to what drivers have done since the 1920s, and the studies at least show that searching for underpriced curb parking has wasted time and fuel for many decades.

On most streets at most times, no one is cruising. But many people want a number, and I can’t stop anyone from saying that 30 percent of traffic is cruising. Nevertheless, on busy streets where all the curb spaces are occupied and traffic is congested, a substantial share of traffic may be cruising.

For example, when researchers interviewed drivers who were stopped at traffic signals in New York City, they found that 28 percent of the drivers on one street in Manhattan and 45 percent on a street in Brooklyn were cruising for curb parking. This doesn’t mean, however, that 28 percent of all traffic in Manhattan is cruising for parking or that 45 percent of all traffic in Brooklyn is cruising for parking.

On a congested street where all the curb spaces are occupied, one simple way to estimate how much of the traffic is cruising is to observe whether the first car that approaches a newly vacated space parks in it. If, for example, the first or second driver who approaches a newly vacated curb space always parks in it, this suggests that most of the traffic is cruising for parking.

An even simpler and quicker (though perhaps less humane) way to sample the traffic flow is to approach the driver-side door of a car parked at the curb with a key in your hand, as if to open the door. If the first driver to see you with a key apparently poised to unlock the door always stops to wait for the space, most of the traffic is probably cruising. The stopped car blocks a lane of traffic just like a double-parked car. Unfortunately, you must then use body language to suggest that you have changed your plans and have decided not to leave, regrettably disappointing the driver who expected to park in the space. If you do this several times, and the first or second driver to see you with a key in your hand always stops to wait for a space, what share of the cars in traffic would you think are cruising? When I did this on Pike Place in Seattle, the first driver who saw me with a key in my hand always stopped traffic to wait for the space.

Because most streets usually have some vacant curb spaces, the share of traffic that is cruising on most streets is probably zero. Because curb parking is underpriced and overcrowded in the busiest parts of most of the world’s biggest cities, however, the sun never sets on cruising.

Don

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Yes, Its Been 20 years.

The September Issue of PT will be our 20th anniversary issue. Folks are asking me what we are going to do. I thought a retrospective would be nice – Parking News Tidbits from two decades ago  — or even a reprise of my mystery story Death by Parking.

We need to thank our first advertisers and those wonderful ones that are still with us after all these years.  Perhaps poke a little fun at the ones who said we would never make it (can you say Pierre?)  Or how about reviewing all the predictions I made and see just how accurate they were. If I remember correctly I ate a lot of crow over the years.

The issue will be fun.  I’m looking forward to creating it. If you would like to see anything special, let me know.

JVH

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Could Shoup be WRONG?

Most of the support for Don Shoup’s theories is based on the concept that 30% of all cars driving in the city are actually looking for parking and if they took the first available spot, it would cut down traffic by a third thus saving whales, polar bears, and a lot of gasoline.

In fact, many of the parking programs like SF Park, and others, justify, either in whole or in part, on this 30% reduction.

I had dinner the other night with a parking guru who said, in essence  “balderdash.” He told me that he had personally done a survey and he thinks the real number is like 2%. He said that you can’t just follow cars and somehow determine which are looking for space and which are driving directly to their parking destination.

You must first categorize the cars.  In other words, have they passed their location and are beginning a search. In other words, you must actually interview them after their park and find out where they were going. If you don’t do that, how could you know whether they were wandering aimlessly or they were focused like a laser beam on their destination parking spot?

He told me that he actually did this, informally. He followed a set number of cars (I think over a few weeks about 200 and actually asked the driver what their destination was. The response in the vast majority of cases was that they were going to the building adjacent or very near their parking space. He noted that they didn’t circle back looking for space, but found a space and parked. He did this as a part of a traffic survey he had done for a major US city.

My friend admitted, after a few adult beverages, that his method wasn’t the most scientific but commented that students standing on rooftops in Westwood near UCLA had little more idea of where people were going or who was cruising and looking.

He added that this number is too critical to how parking programs are approved to be left to a number that was perhaps a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) estimate. He felt a grant needed to be garnered and a true survey done with actual interviews of drivers after they parked.

I have sent this to Don and asked him to respond.

JVH

 

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Read Parknews.biz and Win BIG!!!

I’m told that there is a new contest running on parknews.biz 

All you have to do is find your name listed in Parknews.biz, drop a note to Editor Astrid, and you win.  I hear its $50. You name also goes into a sweepstakes and you have a chance to win an all expense paid trip to the Parking Industry Exhibition next March in Chicago.

Just check out Parknews.biz every day for your name. We get the names at random from our Parking Today mailing list. If you get PT, you are already entered.

Actually you win three ways — First, you are guaranteed to win in that you learn everything that’s going on in our industry. You are up to date with what your colleagues are doing across the world. Second, you just might win $50. and third, you are entered in a drawing to get a free trip to PIE 2017.

Here’s the link:  Parknews.biz

Start today

JVH

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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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