Why Write it at All? And, Is “Parking” a Four-Letter Word?


Why Write it at All? And, Is “Parking” a Four-Letter Word?

I have just read for the fourth time an article published by the Commercial Real Estate Development Association titled “Parking in a Post Pandemic Economy.” I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the article was written at all. If you wish to read it, log on to Parknews.biz. We have a link to it there.

It says that when the country was on lockdown, parking activity dropped over 90 percent. Well, duh. Then it returned to near normal, upwards of 85 percent in most areas. It then posits that cities lost many on-street spaces due to outdoor eating requirements. Fair enough.

It projects that work from office vs. work from home will change how traffic patterns and parking are affected. But of course, it doesn’t say how. The author quotes statistics from Parkmobile’s monthly report. At least those are accurate. But totally expected.

It is filled with the words “if, may, could, perhaps,” but not one actual statement that you could hang your hat on. I love this last sentence:

There are many questions that remain to be answered, but this pandemic-fueled pause in the pace of normal life may open up new and better opportunities for transportation, which will drastically impact parking. 

Just what does that mean? I guess I’m wondering why people write articles like this one. They state the obvious, make predictions that are based on conjecture, contradict themselves and then summarize with a vacuous sentence like the one above. 

The author, Robert Downey, is a transportation consultant, an Emeritus Fellow of the Transportation Research Board, and an adjunct professor in Georgetown University’s Real Estate Program in the School of Continuing Studies. Wow.

I received a “T” shirt yesterday from Get It Corp. It was inscribed “Parking Is Not a Four Letter Word Anymore.” I know this is a catch phrase promoting Get It, however it got me to thinking.

If “parking” is or was a four-letter word, why is that?

I was having breakfast at a nearby deli. It is in a strip center and not within walking distance of anywhere. It does a land office business all day. Why? Because it has 20 or so parking spaces conveniently located in front just off the street. Folks can roll in and out easily. Without those 20 spaces, this business and others near it would cease to exist.

Sorry, mobility fans, but no number of buses, bikes, electric scooters, and the like would save this business if parking weren’t available. The average age of the customers is 70, so, not your basic scooter or bicycle crowd.

“Parking” certainly isn’t a four-letter word for the owner of this deli. He is very much aware that those 20 spaces are critical to the success of his business. He may not think about it every day, but the reality is there. Those 20 spaces here, 30 spaces there tucked in front or behind businesses make them accessible to customers.

The way it works is that if the lot is full, there’s a good chance the deli is pretty full. If there are spaces, there is room for you inside. By the way, parking here is free and uncontrolled.

With a nod to Don Shoup, of course the parking isn’t free. The cost of maintaining that parking space is factored into the price of your pastrami sandwich. So be it.

My friends at Get It Corp. indicate on their website that they are basically referring to large parking operations in office buildings and hotels. And frankly, parking there can be relegated to a ‘four-letter word’ category.

However, ever since we parked the first cars in the homes of the horses they replaced, parking has been a necessity both for the driver and the merchant. If it became a ‘four-letter word’ whose fault is that? It’s yours and mine, kind readers. We, as an industry, have focused on reducing cost, reducing personnel, and putting technology in place. Has all of this really helped, or has it moved us into the “four-letter word” category?

The Financial Times in the UK asked its readers (find the article on Parknews.biz) how they felt about technology and the like and were deluged with complaints, most from those with a little gray on the roof. The apps may be convenient for those who are familiar with smart phones, but many are not. I loved this comment from the FT:

“Further into the future, you might not even need an app to park at all. Your in-car computer system will simply flash up “Do you want to pay for parking?” when you pull into a space. This sounds like the height of convenience. But maybe you’ll need your children to explain how it works.”

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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