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No Parking, Cities Rethink Parking with Fewer Personal Cars.

I know, I know – I’m a contrarian.  Someone says up, I say down. Someone say white, I say black. I get this from being right so many times. (No arrogance there).

My contrarian roots got tickled by an article in the Wall Street Journal. Astrid grabbed it and the story can be found on Parknews.biz. Its title is “No Parking, Cities Rethink Parking with Fewer Personal Cars.”

This article is heavily researched. They quote everyone from UCLA’s Don Shoup to Walker’s Mary Smith to Flash’s Don Sharplin to Las Vegas’ Brandy Stanley to Parkway’s Robert Zuritsky to Gensler’s Andy Cohen. These are some pretty heavy hitters in our industry and far be it from me to be contrary to them. However…

The gist of the article is that with the advent of self driving cars and the popularity of ride hailing services, traffic in central cities would be down as much as 70% and all the folks quoted spoke of different uses for garages from mobility hubs to mobile kitchens, from parks (on the roof) to offices and apartments. Fair Enough.

However, I wondered if the editors of the august WSJ actually read their own newspaper. There have been a number of articles as recent as last week saying that basically self driving cars were a non starter and that it will take a complete change in how artificial intelligence works before the true self driving vehicle can actually hit the streets. These articles said that the advent of these mechanical marvels could be up to thirty to forty years out.

There have also been stories crying the blues for ride hailing services, noting that prices are skyrocketing in the face of too few drivers to meet the demand. That has caused folks to rethink their usage and going back to privately owned vehicles.

Another article stressed that young folks were actually buying cars and driving rather than taking rapid transit (granted this was due to covid) but the so called ‘trend’ to young people giving up cars seems to have stalled.

I understand that the world want’s electric vehicles to happen and everyone is on that bandwagon, but from where I stand there are a few pesky details that need to be resolved, including the extremely disruptive mining for materials needed for batteries, the ongoing problem with the electrical grid and its inability to service a fleet of EVs, and the fact that the vast majority of drivers don’t seem to be on board with the higher cost of EVs, range anxiety, the time it takes to charge, and the like.

Taking all the above into account, should we start a wholesale demolition or renovation of downtown garages? Although planning for the future is a good idea, should we not also be realistic about what we see when we look out the window?

It was interesting that the author of the WSJ article didn’t mention any of the above issues, or have any quotes contrary to the point of the story. Was it agenda driven, or was it simply a naïve author who made a bunch of phone calls and asked questions that didn’t truly cover the topic?

Just sayin

JVH

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2 Responses to No Parking, Cities Rethink Parking with Fewer Personal Cars.

  1. Bruce Cousin says:

    It is indeed interesting to see all the visions and strategies for the future of parking. Indeed, vehicle traffic is a part of the transportation planning for any city, they are not going away. To that end, the slow move over to EV vehicles will still require a space to park. Ride shares need a place to park when not in service and awaiting a new customer. Self driving cars, once you are dropped off, does the car need to park and wait for you to call for a ride home? The increased installation of bike lanes in cities cores will continue to remove street parking spaces which will increase traffic to off street parking. Tax increases on gas and parking operations are not a bottomless pit to fund transit and will continue to be an issue politically. This may require transit fare increases which are even more politically negative than tax increases.

    I believe the pandemic was hard on everyone from a business aspect. There will be a reduction in traffic for stay at home work , which will continue, but how many of these workers were parking every day and how many were transit users? the reduction of traffic will be minor for this change brought on by the pandemic. Offices will open, restaurants will be back, events will take place at stadiums and arenas ,and cars will be back on the road looking for a place to park.

  2. Peter Guest says:

    I just don’t see the connect between autonomous vehicles and fewer vehicles. And the assumption that future autonomous cars will not be privately owned. Sure cars spend 95% of their time parked or whatever, but we still have peak hours and peak demand and everyone is still going to want to drive to work in the morning. I know that lots of people work from home right now but pundits here are seeing that tailing off pretty quickly once the world gets back to something like normal.
    So demand will be heavy and directional twice a day, not much chance for a reduction there. What about the non journey to or for work? In theory yes there could be a saving from re-using the JTW cars during the day but who is going to check out the vehicles between trips, especially if they are being used intensively? Jo takes the car to work and eats his breakfast burger on the way; why not he doesn’t have to drive so he can stay in bed an extra half hour? An hour later the car turns up for Fred and still smells of breakfast complete with ketchup dripped on the seat. anybody who knows anything knows that people take less care of stuff when they are not directly responsible for the item. Why should a hire by the hour car be any different? Fred isn’t going to be happy and will perhaps look at having his own vehicle again so that he can control what happens in it.
    I also don’t see the obvious reduction in traffic. My car is outside the door when I want it. I drive point to point, or at least to the nearest car park. With an autonomous shared vehicle fleet, it comes to me, a wait and extra mileage; at my destination it goes and park, extra mileage and then goes to service someone else, extra mileage. Have I missed something?
    Who checks the car is OK? For sure cars have increasingly sophisticated monitoring systems already, but they are not comprehensive and we still pick up faults in our cars by seeing, hearing or feeling a change. If all I am doing is taking a single trip in a car, I don’t car if there is a funny noise, I am only in it for a few minutes.
    I am at an age now where, in the UK at least, the government can decide that my faculties have degraded to the point where I should no longer be trusted to control a car. The idea of being able to step into an autonomous vehicle and say “Take me to the shops/pub/girlfriend” is therefore very attractive. But when that time comes, I want it to be my car a lucky dip from a vehicle store the other side of town won’t cut it.

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