Sustainable Parking Helps Cities Cut Emissions, Boost Efficiency

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We've all been there: Whether the night before a major holiday, a Saturday at the local mall or in a busy area of town, finding a parking space can sometimes take an age.

Then, when you think you've found a spot, you pull up to it only to find some comedian has parked a Smart Fortwo or similarly tiny vehicle in there, hidden by the cars next to it. Cue another ten minutes of space-finding.

The subtext to all this is that you're wasting energy--fuel, money, time--doing something that could be so much better managed. And with smart parking and peak parking, that's exactly what is starting to happen.

In fact, this broad spread of "sustainable parking" is growing rapidly, and each step towards smarter parking is saving more gas and boosting the efficiency of every journey.

As Navigant Research reveals, it's an industry expected to pull in $350 million in annual revenue by 2020, up from around $60 million today.

Some of that revenue will come from new peak parking tarriffs and dynamic pricing--perhaps not a popular idea, but one that, when connected to a grid of smart meters and mobile parking apps, should help manage congestion at peak times. Think of it this way: If you know the parking lot is full before you get there, you'll not spend time driving around looking for a spot, nor waste the extra fuel driving to a different parking lot.

Paul Wessel, executive director of the Green Parking Council, told Navigant Research that the parking industry is treating spaces "more like airplane seats"--it's more cost-effective for both customers and service providers if they're filled efficiently. A full parking lot is, in effect, an over-sold flight.

It's possibly even more important for electric vehicles, though this is one area in which electric cars are ahead of the game.

Plenty of services use apps to show users where a free charging point is, and many EV owners know exactly where they'll be parking before they even set off.

If such a system can be expanded to every vehicle--and it's in the pipeline--perhaps those long, frustrating searches will be a thing of the past. Better still, you'll have saved a little gas.


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Comments (7)
  1. Ah well, just slap the 'sustainable' moniker onto anything if you want some attention.

    If this does anything it is PROMOTING car use since it makes the experience more pleasant.

    Limiting parking is the no 1 tool for big cities to promote other, more energy efficient means of transport instead of the car.

  2. Indeed, from Paul Wessel's comment above, this has more to do with maximizing parking revenue (sorry, "efficiency").

    Make a service more convenient, charge more for it.
    Better yet, make extra bucks by profiling drivers through the now-required app, displaying targeted advertising, "rewards", etc...

  3. Works for me, though I'd rather get the riffraff off the roads with gas taxes, which would reduce the amount of driving poor people do (and thus their un(der)insured jalopies would be less likely to get in an accident). Let them eat piss-stained buses and subways with smelly, delusional and violent hoboes on them..

    As cities continue dramatic growth, the use of the automobile becomes seriously problematic. Huge parking lots, crowded roads servicing increasingly concentrated populations housed in high rise condominiums exacerbate transport and parking problems within our cities. Transit may be a partial answer but often the systems are only efficient at rush hour so become uneconomic beyond these times. As well, walking to transit service to and from home is not easy for seniors, especially if burdened with a load of groceries. An obvious solution lies in the use of semi-recumbent electric assist tricycles which are safe and capable of readily carrying generous loads.

    Doctor and hospital visits with an elec

  5. Why do you think Amazon is so popular?

    No need to worry about parking.

  6. Very true. Let the products come to you!

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