How Doors Can Improve the Parking Experience


How Doors Can Improve the Parking Experience

Michael Watkins


Parking facility doors are often an overlooked but essential part of the urban parking experience. They can be both functional and an unexpected enhancement that makes each user’s day just a little better by providing improvements in safety, reliability and aesthetics.


The New Urban Parking User


Thanks to a record urban building boom during the last decade, condominium owners and apartment dwellers have more options than ever. They’re also becoming much more discerning consumers when selecting where to live. They’re raising their expectations, forcing building owners to follow suit to attract the best tenants and users.


For example, urban dwellers want more than just a place to park their vehicles. They think of their building and its parking structure as a place to escape from inclement weather, relentless traffic, rude drivers and opportunistic carjackers. In a small way, a parking structure is a source of respite from the craziness of the city. 


At the same time, due to rising crime rates, safety and security are becoming bigger issues for city dwellers. If a building’s parking structure isn’t clean, well-lit and secure against unwanted visitors, potential users will quickly eliminate it from consideration. They have many choices, with new buildings being added every month.

Urban Parking Challenges – and Solutions


Personal security is more important than ever for city dwellers. According to a recent Gallup poll, a record-high 56 percent of Americans said crime is higher where they live than it was a year ago.


Parking structures are actually a prime location for theft and violent crimes. According to the National Institute of Justice, 7.3 percent of all violent crimes occur in parking lots, where lighting, sight lines and security are often poor. Data released by the FBI indicates they are the third most likely place people will encounter violent crimes.


Personal safety has become such a big issue that a growing number of city dwellers now consider parking security as one of their key criteria when selecting an apartment or condominium.


One way that savvy building owners can enhance security, differentiate their properties, and attract more tenants is by equipping their parking structures with high-performance doors. Here’s why:


Safety and Security


High-performance doors are designed to open and close at up to 100 inches per second. This helps to keep traffic moving smoothly into and out of the parking structure. It also discourages unauthorized visitors from “tailgating” or “piggybacking” – following closely behind a resident’s vehicle to sneak into the parking structure before the door closes.


In addition, fast opening and closing speeds reduce the potential for accidental vehicle-door impacts while adding an impressive “Wow!” factor when users enter or leave the building.


AI Comes to Door Security


Most parking doors use sensors connected to countdown timers that signal the door when to open and close. They can’t tell what type of traffic is entering the door opening or if a vehicle has moved clear of it. As long as the door opening is obstructed, the door remains open. Depending upon how these sensors and timers are configured, they may be allowing unauthorized users to enter your parking facility.


To solve this problem, one commercial door manufacturer – Rytec – is employing artificial intelligence to accurately sense vehicle and foot traffic nearby, intelligently track its motion and adjust the door’s performance in pre-programmed ways. Customizable bright LED lights on either side of the doorway are designed to warn people of door movement and can also deter loitering around the door. 


Here are two brief examples of intelligent door responses:


* The system detects a vehicle obstructing the door opening. Light curtain sensors on the front side of the door detect that it has entered the threshold but hasn’t cleared the sensors on the backside. The system can flash the LED lights to alert the driver to move the vehicle and signal the door to close at half speed.


* The system can tell the difference between a vehicle and a pedestrian. If it senses someone loitering near the doorway, it can flash its LED lights in a specific pattern to let them know their presence has been detected and persuade them to move away from the door.


Rytec’s SmartSurround is a next-generation detection, alert and security system that is now standard equipment on most of its Spiral high-performance doors. 


Streamlining Traffic Flow


Traffic in most downtown areas has been steadily increasing for decades, to the point that cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are experiencing gridlock. In these chaotic environments, vehicles can easily back up into the street when entering and leaving parking structures, causing mini-traffic jams.


Parking facility doors shouldn’t be impediments to the smooth flow of traffic. Modern high-performance parking doors offer fast opening and closing speeds, which help keep traffic moving smoothly.


When paired with enhanced technology for access control, such as cloud-based mobile apps, wireless key fobs and key cards, high-performance doors can provide building owners with advanced control and monitoring of door users and activity. Building owners can create and manage user profiles that specify the hours and days of the week when certain groups of users can access the parking structure – ideal for managing access to mixed-use facilities.


Reliability: Day In, Day Out


Most parking structures have only one door opening for entry and exit. That means door reliability is a must. Some modern high-performance doors feature an exclusive spiral track designed to protect the aluminum panels from wear and tear. A simple, variable-speed AC drive also contributes to longevity and reliability – giving building owners one less thing to worry about. 


Aesthetics Matter


As urban building owners move to attract higher-end tenants, door aesthetics increasingly matter. The design of modern high-performance doors can be customized to match almost any architectural style, including colors, materials and slats for improved vision and ventilation.


Doors for urban parking structures don’t have to be an afterthought. With a little bit of planning, this part of your facility can contribute to an exceptional customer experience that attracts your ideal tenants, renters and users.


Michael Watkins is Vice President of Marketing for Rytec. He can be reached at For more information, visit

Article contributed by:
Michael Watkins, Rytec
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