The parking industry is problematic in many ways. We all know that it’s hard to find parking, complicated to pay for parking, and annoying to receive parking fines. That’s only half of the big picture, though. Below we’ve collected the most troubling facts about unorganized parking that result from failed parking management.
1. Unorganized parking is a huge waste of time
The average car-owning person will spend around 106 days of their lifetime sitting in a car looking for parking. That’s more than three months. Those days are directly away from time spent otherwise, such as at work. Or with family. Or outdoors. The bigger the city, the worse the situation: in places like London, it’s around 8 minutes per journey.
2. Unorganized parking burns a ton of money
According to Shoup’s famous study, each motorist drives approximately half a mile extra when looking for a parking spot. Every time. That’s money down the drain in at least two major ways: fuel cost and opportunity cost. In fact, the start-stop driving that a parking quest consists of burns much more fuel than driving half a mile steadily. As for the opportunity cost, just think about the 106 days mentioned above.
3. Unorganized parking causes traffic jams
At least 30 % of traffic in downtown areas is made up of cars looking for parking spaces. It’s a huge amount, when you consider that looking for parking only makes up the final stretch of a journey from place A to place B. Downtown infrastructures create a traffic bottleneck, so when parking is hard to find, the impact spreads quickly from the epicentre. At its worst, parking leaves city centers completely jammed.
4. Unorganized parking steals our living space
As much as one third of city space can be dedicated to parking spots, and of those, an estimated third is empty at any given time. That equals a whole lot of wasteland (somewhere up from 1000 square kilometers in the U.S. alone). We have space designated for parking for no good reason other than failed parking planning, and that space could be used for any other purpose that benefits the community.
5. Unorganized parking pollutes the environment
When cars are cruising for a parking spot, they release a constant stream of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The slow cruising, accelerating and speeding that the hunt requires pollutes more than regular driving, and that’s combined with the extra miles that parking accumulates. Together, they make the looming climate change accelerate at an even higher speed. Plus, those above-mentioned empty standing parking lots also burn up natural resources.
6. Unorganized parking is a massive stress factor for drivers
Around 39 % of drivers describe parking as a stress-inducing experience. Parking causes stress in two ways: first of all, when a person is having a hard time finding a free parking spot. And second, when someone else has parked badly (the worst, it seems, is when someone’s car takes up more than one space). Leaving a driveway or bridge or loading area unattainable is not just inconvenient, it effects drivers’ quality of life, and not in a good way.
7. Unorganized parking is dangerous
Because finding parking is a pain, people park illegally – sometimes up to a half of drivers. Imagine a car parked on a narrow curb, and the drivers opens the door right when a cyclist is passing. Imagine a fire in the middle of the busy downtown at rush hour – firetrucks trying to make their way through streets that are completely blocked with spot-hunting drivers. Parking restrictions are in place also to make cities safer, and when they’re not obeyed or they don’t work, it’s unsafe.
Doesn’t sound good, does it?
So you may have realized by now that the way parking has been and is organized and managed causes problems on every front. Furthermore, those problems tie in together and accumulate into a reality where urban areas work so much more poorly than they potentially could. There’s a good solution for this, though, so please read on to our other posts and learn what smart parking is all about and why parking apps are the future.
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Main photo by “Daniel Kölblinger” from Flickr/CC