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Why is parking so hard? Not only does it take a tremendous amount of time from the day, it also creates way too much irritation. A step-by-step of the parking process reveals why.

Parking is a daily source of constant frustration and stress for motorists.  Generally driving a car or motorcycle may seem like a nice time-saving option compared to taking the bus or train, but when you insert finding a spot for your car into the equation, the whole process suddenly seems a lot harder.  To take a closer look at exactly why it’s so hard, we put together a short narrative illustrating the obstacles you can face in a straightforward basic process of parking your car. This is a story that, unfortunately, every driver can relate to.

Take this short test to find out how good your city is at parking and how to improve!

While reading this story, here’s a task for you: at each individual point in the narrative, stop for a moment and consider how it could be made easier for the driver. We put in some questions to get your mind running.

1. Finding a parking lot

You’re driving happily toward the city center. You arrive near your location, and start looking for a spot to leave your car. You browse around for parking signage, and locate a sign next to the street - “no parking.” Alright, left turn. Again, “no parking.” Round the block. “Tow zone.” Oh no. Several blocks, some blood, sweat and tears and a good amount of frustration later you finally see a mirage in the distance: a small lot with “parking on weekdays, max 2 hours.” Great. I can work with that.

What if you could find out easily where the nearest parking lot is?

2. Finding a parking space

Turning into the parking lot, and the hunt for a vacant space begins. There’s a couple of other hunters around as well, and you know that it’s first come - first serve. You notice a vacancy not far from you, and start the race toward it, yes, you’re the first one! No wait - once you’re close enough you notice that it’s not vacant - there’s a ridiculously small mini car occupying it. A vacancy nearby is just being taken by a rival parker. Finally after three rounds around the lot, you manage to snatch a spot.

What if you would be able to see where there are vacant parking spaces in real time?

3. Looking for change for the meter

Now starts the process of rummaging through the car’s nooks and crannies for change to insert into the meter. Glove compartment - empty. Pockets - nothing there. Under the seat? Lots of random stuff but no money. Cup holder? Yes! A few coins which hopefully suffice for a bit of parking time.

What if you didn’t have to use change to pay for parking?

4. Paying for the time

Making your way to the parking meter in the car maze. You get there, and you try to look at the instructions on it. Step 1, step 2 and so forth. How much does the machine want of my change? Frustrated, you take out a random number of coins and shove them down the meter, and press the green button. Receipt comes out. 30 minutes? Ok, got to be fast then.

What if you could just pay afterward for the exact time that you spent?

5. Coming back to the car to leave the ticket

Carefully ripping off the reminder part of the ticket, you stretch into the car and place the ticket on your dashboard and get out the same way. The breeze from slamming the door shut flies the ticket somewhere under the driver seat. Alright then. You repeat, and this time get out more carefully. Once you’re out, you peer through the window to see whether the ticket is visible. Sort of, if you squint and the sun isn’t shining directly on the window.

What if you didn’t need a paper ticket to inform enforcement of your parking?

6. Done! What an ordeal.  

What if it wasn’t an ordeal?

Easier parking = Easier life

Now, it is obvious that the user experience is far from easy. And the process doesn’t always go that smoothly - you may end up getting a parking ticket, or you may end up going through this ordeal of SMS payment (only to realize that it's just as hard). So, rest assured, you’re not alone: the most common parking problems affect us all.

In the end, parking is one of those things that make up our everyday lives, and much like the fridge or automobile or any of the newest technological innovations, ways to make it easier just take a whole load of stress out of the day. If you are a city decision-maker or a parking business owner reading this, it’s likely that you are also the driver in this narrative. So, to solve the incredible confusion of parking, you can start by figuring out ways to reduce steps from the process, and how that could be done in practice.

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ParkMan is an efficient digital solution for parking management, and a parking app for drivers to find and pay for parking. Read how ParkMan can help you!

Main photo by "Alden Jewell from Flickr /CC