Mom Always Taught Us to Share… That Includes Parking Too!
The land uses were developed in a very segregated fashion. Shops, restaurants, and pubs were on one side of Main Street. Offices, government buildings and the library were on the other. At night, parking facilities on one side of the downtown were bursting at the seams. At the same time, large parking facilities on the other side went almost unused. It seemed a shame to consider constructing more parking when so much space was available right across the street.
One of the best opportunities to reduce expenses, improve commercial areas and neighborhoods, and reduce the environmental impact of parking is to encourage shared parking. For example, parking for an office building can also support theaters and nightclubs because the peak parking demands are different. Office parking demands peak during daytime hours on weekdays and parking demand for theaters and nightclubs peaks during evenings and weekends. This means that less parking needs to be constructed, lowering expenses and limiting the amount of land dedicated to parking.
This concept is often applied to new developments with a mix of land uses. This would typically involve a review of development land uses, a projection of shared parking demands, and a review of zoning code requirements. The assessment would also include two primary shared parking model adjustments:
• Mode Adjustments – The percentage of people driving to the development alone instead of using another form of transportation such as walking, bicycling, carpooling or transit.
• Captive Market Adjustments – The percentage of vehicles that are already counted in the demands associated with another land use. For example, residents who visit an on-site sandwich shop wouldnot generate any additional parking demand.
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Shared parking can reduce the amount of parking needed by 15 percent or more depending on the land uses, modal splits, and captive market synergies. Given the average cost of constructing structured parking spaces (approximately $17,500 per space), every little bit helps. A shared parking model should be required for every new mixed-use development to determine if the appropriate amount of parking is provided.
However, shared parking can also apply to existing developments and larger areas such as zones within a downtown.
For example, church parking that is only used during evenings and weekends could be used to support office or medical buildings during weekdays. This may seem like a difficult challenge. How much underutilized parking is available? Will private property owners cooperate? However, there are ways to encourage shared parking:
• Know the Numbers – Conduct an assessment of existing parking supply and demand in the area that is being considered for additional parking. Both public and private parking supplies should be included in the analysis. If underutilized supplies are found, investigate alternatives for improving the utilization of all available parking.
• Talk with Private Parking Owners – Create lines of communication to determine what can be done to encourage more shared parking. Discussions should include the potential benefi ts of shared parking, including potential revenues related to increased parking utilization. Also, incentives could be offered such as assisting with facility maintenance (e.g., sweeping), signage, security, insurance and parking enforcement.
• Adjust Zoning Codes to Encourage Shared Parking – Development code requirements that specify a set amount of parking per square foot almost always result in too much parking. Requirements should be based on realistic demand ratios specific to the community, as well as provide reasonable reductions for shared off-street parking, available on-street parking, and the utilization of alternative forms of Transportation
• Manage for Efficiency – Manage parking as a system – both public and private. This could include improved signage and wayfinding, better marketing and communications, real-time parking availability information, demand-based pricing strategies, encouraging private parking facilities to provide public parking, circulator shuttles, etc. As parking professionals, we need to do all we can to maximize the utilization of all parking resources, both public and private. Properly managing and utilizing existing parking and transportation resources, as well as adequately planning for future needs, can be one of the most inexpensive and efficient ways to provide parking.
Gary Cudney, P. E. is President and CEO of Carl Walker, Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com.