Is Every Car Cruising for a Parking Space?


Is Every Car Cruising for a Parking Space?

Over at Reinventing Parking, Paul Barter lists a number of cities that are experimenting with demand based pricing. Read all about it here.

The goal is to set on street parking rates so that a number of spaces are always available on each block face, thus enabling drivers to quickly find parking and reduce cruising. This is classic Shoup 101.

The question is, when such pricing was put into effect, did it work? How do we know? Paul asks a number of questions, one of which is “Reported impact/results.” In the vast majority of cases he cites, there is no report.

From my point of view, this is damning. Isn’t it that we want to find out whether these programs get results? If so, we need to first set a base line so we can measure the results. How about a study of ‘cruising’ and understanding just how much is going on. Perhaps a definition of just what cruising is.  How many minutes searching for parking indicates a vehicle is cruising? Three minutes? Five minutes? Eight minutes?

The most difficult problem is how do you tell? Don Shoup put a bunch of graduate students on the roofs of buildings in a small area near UCLA and had them track cars. Fair enough. I’m still not sure as to the accuracy of the project, but it seems to be more accurate than doing nothing at all.

The case could be made that every car in an area is either cruising for a parking space, entering the area, or leaving the area. Do we set the price of on street parking to leave a couple of empty spaces on every block space, or set it higher than off street so people will immediately head for off street spaces? Wouldn’t that seem more reasonable?

In any case, take a look at Paul’s blog and the cities of all sizes that are working with demand based pricing. His research is exhaustive.


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John Van Horn

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