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Design Considerations and Best Practices

Rather than focus our efforts on increasing the supply of parking, we need to better manage the supply that we have. Increasing the amount of parking that is shared, improving user information, and using pricing to curb demand are all strategies that can be implemented to improve the management of parking.

Good design features can help reduce negative impacts on a community and on the environment. The examples below show parking garages that maintain a pedestrian-friendly environment, with ground-level shopping and landscaping. Incorporating these elements around transit stations, and sharing the parking between uses has significant potential for creating a lively streetscape.

RetailReston

 

 

Lakewood

From Flickr user La Citta Vita

From EPA Smart Growth

Additionally, permeable paving, natural landscaping, and innovative stormwater management strategies can be used to reduce the environmental impact of parking and parking structures.

Each community around the region will need to evaluate specific goals for parking and design their strategy to promote their goals. The Transportation Authority of Marin has outlined parking design strategies tailored to various place types:

Place Type

Parking Design Strategies

Downtown Center

Parking is primarily structured or underground. Large surface parking lots should be considered opportunities for infill development.

Medium / High Density Neighborhood

Parking is primarily structured or underground. Large surface parking lots should be considered opportunities for infill development.

Mixed-use Corridor

Mix of structured parking and limited surface parking. Surface parking lots are located behind buildings. Conversion of larger surface lots to structures with infill development should be considered.

Town Center

Mix of structured parking and limited surface parking. Surface parking lots are located behind buildings. Conversion of larger surface lots to structures with infill development should be considered.

Medium- Density Neighborhood

Structured parking is rare; surface parking is screened by buildings and landscaping.

Local-serving commercial corridor

Structured parking is rare; surface parking is screened by buildings and landscaping; and use of on-street parking should be maximized.

Low / Med Density neighborhood

Parking needs are accommodated by on-site garages and on-street parking.

Suburban Corridor

Structured parking does not occur; surface parking lots are screened by buildings and landscaping.

Rural Center / "Crossroads"

Structured parking does not occur; surface parking lots are screened by buildings and landscaping; and use of on-street parking should be maximized.

Low / Rural Density Neighborhood

Parking needs are accommodated by on-site garages, work yards, and on-street parking.

Rural Corridor

Little demand for parking for uses typically provided by small surface parking areas, with short-term and emergency parking on road shoulders.

 

User Information

Parking operations are often criticized and rarely praised; this can be blamed on inadequate user information and a lack of understanding by the general public as to how parking systems work (Burns and Anderson, 2004). The former issue can be mitigated by providing maps, signs, brochures, websites, real-time information, etc. For the latter, some communities have had success with the publication of an Annual Parking Report. A report documenting parking inventory, utilization (or demand), anticipated changes in demand or supply, enforcement issues, and a financial overview of the costs of parking, can be very informative and help to alleviate or prevent problems.

Improved user information at the parking location is also helpful to improving ease of use and user satisfaction. New York City's mayor Bloomberg has expressed a desire for "smart meters" that will work with wireless PDAs to help drivers locate vacant spots, pay the meter, and to receive messages when the meter is about to expire (2009). Effective signage can improve parking management by making it easier for drivers to navigate both off-street and on-street parking facilities. Effective signage for off-street facilities can include:

  • Directional signs at entrances from public streets
  • Signs at exit to get back the street network
  • Internal signs to direct parkers to parking for various land uses
  • Internal signs to direct parkers to available spaces
  • Way-finding within the facility so parkers can get back to their car

Instructional signs can also illustrate how to use innovative, safer on-street parking, such as back-in angled parking. Other signage can regulate which users can occupy on-street parking (i.e. residential permits). And automated parking guidance systems (APGS) and automated parking availability displays (APAD) can inform users of the number of available spaces in a facility, by level.

Meter

Informing drivers in Old Pasadena (photo by Flickr user mlinksva)

 

Enforcement

There is a direct correlation between the likelihood that a driver will pay for parking and the likelihood that the parking rules will be enforced. For a quick errand, almost everyone has had the internal debate: "Will I get a ticket in the next couple of minutes?"

The job of a parking enforcement agent is difficult; no one likes the person giving out tickets. Unfortunately, the enforcement of parking regulations is an essential element of a system that is designed to discourage illegal parking.

When instituting new parking policies, many cities will post warnings of upcoming changes and some will waive the first ticket so that citizens have a chance to adapt to the new system. An Annual Parking Report can include this information as well. Additionally, if the revenues from meters and tickets are returned to a Parking Management Authority or Parking Benefit District and the public can see the projects resulting from their money, animosity between enforcement agents and drivers may be reduced.

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