Five Parking Predictions for the 2020s
Don’t you think there’s something about a new decade that’s energizing, exciting, even hopeful? I’ve spent more time than you’d imagine working out what 2020 will entail for our industry.
As I plan out the next few months and years, I’m considering a few predictions I have for the decade ahead. These aren’t lofty ideals, nor are they ambitious goals or shots in the dark. I’m looking at the future the way historians do: as a response to the challenges and trends of the past and present.
Here are my top five predictions for what’s to come in parking…
1. Parking & Tech will influence policy
In the coming decade, expect to see cities turning to thought leaders in parking, tech, and transportation to ensure that mobility policies work holistically, and for the benefit of residents.
What will those policies cover? The immediate 2020s will see actions to systematize dockless bikes and scooters, TNCs, curb and lane usage, and—this time next decade—self-driving cars. Pulling this off will require a synchronized policy-triangle between mobility, parking, and new technology trends.
These policies will be as collaborative as the bureaus and organizations developing them. For example, those dictating curb and bus lane use will harmoniously intersect with new rideshare policies, which themselves will intersect with parking policies geared towards easing congestion.
Calls for policy reform are already on the table from coast to coast, like removing parking minimums, investing in infrastructure, and economic incentives and disincentives. Portland, Milwaukee, and the Big Apple are just three of the cities which have begun rescinding parking minimums.
2. Out with the old, in with the intelligent infrastructure
The parking industry needs to have infrastructure that is intelligent, not the passive kind that is in currently in place at over 95 percent of any controlled parking market. By no means will industry-wide smart infrastructure come easily; improvements need to be made on micro and macro levels.
Acting fast, small steps can be taken to put our industry in a good place. For instance: upgrading payment systems to accept new payment forms, such as Apple Pay, Venmo, and cryptocurrencies.
On a macro level, tomorrow’s smart parking structures will be much more than today’s garages. Surface lots will make way for multi-level facilities that act as vehicle hubs, service centers, and transfer points for multimodal public trans. They may even incorporate retail and restaurants.
3. The customer journey will be embraced by parking companies
The parking zeitgeist of the 2020s will be predominantly customer focused as consumer habits and preferences trend away from the traditional and towards the convenient.
Parking organizations will stop looking at their service as the end of the customer journey. Instead, they’ll work to make it a waypoint along the path between Point A (home, work, or other starting points) and B (the gym, food store, office, restaurant, etc.), understanding that their customers have a return trip in mind.
Yes, the ‘20s will usher in remarkably stress-free parking. Parking stress free? Absolutely! New eras call for new mindsets.
4. You won’t have to leave early to find parking
My fourth parking prediction for the next decade is that average parking times will drop to five minutes.
To meet consumer demands for convenience, tech and parking companies will collaborate with cities to implement tech-based solutions. It’s not hard to imaging native map apps integrating with data from streets and parking structures to show users the number of spots each parking garage in a radial mile has to offer. And that’s just one solution.
Beyond consumer convenience, five minute parking times will also help reduce congestion and harmful emissions… though the number of emissions-producing cars will likely dwindle by this time next decade.
5. Silicon Valley will be a major backer in Tomorrowland’s parking and mobility industry
If I haven’t emphasized it enough, Tomorrowland will see smart cities and tech collaborations, and I predict a lot of the funds for these innovations will come from Silicon Valley and other investor cornucopias.
The demand is there, and so is the money. Even today, $100-million investments aimed at solving parking issues are taking place.
Certainly, today’s potential funding is frequently sidelined by investments in autonomous vehicles. But hype about “the death of parking” only makes me more confident in tech-driven, investor-funded parking initiatives, because with every major advancement comes thousands of challenges.
Beyond storage, maintenance, and recharging/refueling away from home, if self-driving cars become as prevalent in the ‘20s as rideshare companies have in the ‘10s, we’ll also be faced with congestion problems that the movers and shakers in Silicon Valley may be inspired to solve—while making millions in the process, of course.
What?!... No elaborate visions of jetpack fueling stations and flying car ports?
Hey, those may be in the future, but not in the next decade.
The 2020s will certainly be a time for innovation, but they will also demand intelligent solutions to challenges that, left unaddressed, aren’t going to make for an inviting Tomorrowland.
Looking at how past mobility trends have brought us to where we are, we’re better suited to illuminate a clear, uncongested route to where we want (and need) to go.