Two weeks ago, many of the top transportation companies, including Uber, Lyft, Didi and LimeBike signed the Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities. It’s an effort we are proud to support at Commutifi, as it provides a vision that can be shared amongst all players, from governments, NGOs and private companies to work together towards better cities.
The Parking Situation
With the rise of these shared mobility services, a shift is happening in how we see parking.
In the last decades, we’ve been building more and more parking infrastructure to solve the growing demand of people driving into cities. So much that it has become a natural sight in urban areas to see vast parking lots on every corner.
The picture is a map I’ve drawn from the downtown Denver area, with the red areas representing surface parking lots. It’s astonishing to see how much space these areas actually consume, and it doesn’t even include on-street or indoor parking. All of that empty asphalt allocated for cars sitting idle 95% of the time.
Do we need all this parking?
In most large cities, parking has become a nightmare, with a majority of lots showing full on a daily basis. As soon as someone brings up the subject, the common response is usually that we need to build more. But it should be the opposite. We need to start building our cities the way we want people to use them.
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” — Winston Churchill
A recent study demonstrated that excessive cheap parking availability tends to cause more people to drive alone. Just as it wouldn’t make sense to build more McDonalds while asking people to reduce their fast food consumption, if we want more people to carpool, bike or use public transit, we should be building more infrastructure to support it.
Why is it like that?
Historically, most cities created regulations forcing a minimum number of parking to be built for every building, making cities more habitable. But with the rise of mobility services, minimums are still being applied, even if they are becoming obsolete, if not negative. That, combined with the rise of the personal automobile in the previous decades, leads to where we are now.
Transportation is about to see the largest disruption since the invention of the automobile.
- Autonomous vehicles are already making their ways in cities.
- Ride-share is gaining popularity, with 4 billion rides served by Uber alone in 2017.
- Bike-share schemes are now available at every corner.
- Dynamic shuttle routes to and from work are now available through Charriot, Lyft and many more.
Adoption is coming quicker than we would think. We are even seeing a large reduction in driver’s license amongst Americans, with 87% of 19 years old who had a driver license in 1987 versus 69% in 2013.
Lyft alone stated they had 250,000 users give up their car in the last year.
When we analyze people’s commute, we find that a majority drive alone to work, which is often very inefficient. There is a lack of awareness on new shared-mobility options which are offering more cost, carbon and time efficient solutions while also reducing the parking burden.
Cities have their part to play in reshaping mobility. Many efforts around the world are already being made towards that.
- Parking maximums are being implemented, replacing parking minimums.
- Curbside management is being reinvented, giving places for safe pick-up and drop-off zones, deliveries, bike lanes and more.
- Transit hubs are being expanded with smart shuttles, car-share stations, bike-share and many other first and last mile solutions.
As parking becomes obsolete in the next decade, we will see series of innovative ideas to reuse the land towards parks and shared-space.
With sustainable modes of commute becoming more efficient in cities, it’s imperative that we continue to push towards cities built for people and not cars.
What’s your vision to transform parking space in the next decade?