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Emerging technologies present people with many new options for getting where they need to go as well as getting goods delivered - all without getting into your own car. If emerging mobility trips replace personally-owned vehicle trips, the demand for parking will go down.
Emerging technologies could decrease the demand for parking at destinations as people replace some vehicle trips with new mobility modes or e-commerce and urban deliveries. The continued interest in new mobility and the potential of AVs on the streets, along with using streets for dining, retail, and recreation because of the pandemic, will force local governments to think about what to do with space dedicated to parking and how to change it to be more productive.
Issues & approaches
New mobility is replacing (some) vehicle trips: According to NACTO, a survey of e-scooter riders in six cities found that 45% of e-scooter trips replaced trips in personal or ride-hail vehicles. That same study found that over half of 2016 users of Washington, DC’s Capital Bikeshare system reported using personal vehicles and taxi’s less. One of the most common reasons for people to indicate that they took an Uber or Lyft is because of the challenges of parking and/or parking fees. These trends point to a reduced demand for parking, though it is as likely that high demand for parking and TNCs go hand-in-hand, as people may choose to drive when or if parking becomes easier.
Decreased parking revenue: Some cities temporarily removed all parking fees in downtown areas to promote small businesses during the pandemic, hoping that free parking would incentivize people to shop downtown instead of online. Emerging technologies' impact on parking is dependent in part on whether parking is plentiful and inexpensive or limited and expensive. For example, a study in Seattle found a positive association between destinations with high-demand and expensive and the use of TNCs (to avoid the hassles of parking). However, that relationship is not linear and revenue should peak when TNC rides increase by about 2.24 times (from 2016 trips). The way that municipal governments collect parking fees may need to change as autonomous vehicles become more popular--some experts believe that autonomous vehicles will lead to a reduction in parking revenues. That may depend on if parking is plentiful and inexpensive or if it is limited and expensive.
Repurposing parking lots: If the demand for parking continues along its downward trend, there will be a need to change this valuable space into something that better fits the needs of the community. Repurposing parking lots can vary in terms of permanence and cost. Parking lots have frequently been repurposed during summer months for open-air markets. During the Covid-19 pandemic, parking lots were repurposed in new, creative ways--airport parking lots became vaccination centers, downtown street parking turned into outdoor dining, and parking lots became the sites for protests.
Parking for fleets: As personal vehicle ownership declines in favor of autonomous vehicles (AVs), transportation network companies (TNCs), or other new mobility modes, it is likely that many of the cars on the road will likely be composed of fleets. Parking designed for fleet vehicles will likely be more compact than parking designed for personal vehicles. Additionally, the prevalence of fleet vehicles will allow for reduced parking in city centers and on city streets. Autonomous fleets and parking in general may be even more efficient.
Micromobility parking: Although recent research suggests it is rare, improperly parked devices and vehicles are hazards for pedestrians, especially those with reduced mobility including seniors and individuals with physical disabilities. A creative strategy cities are pursuing to assist with scooter parking include creating micromobility corrals. In 2019, San Francisco became one of the first cities to require e-scooters to have lock mechanisms. Micromobility corrals are areas of the furniture zone or street that are dedicated for micromobility device parking. Further, improving parking availability for micromobility and active transportation modes can make using these modes more desirable.
On-street parking: The rise of autonomous vehicles may lead to a decrease in on-street parking demand in urban areas. Instead of paying for expensive parking along city streets, autonomous vehicles will be able to drop passengers off along the curb and then park in lots farther away that are better suited for autonomous vehicles. With freed up parking spaces in desirable urban areas, parking lanes can be converted into flexible zones used to expand transit lanes, create bike lanes, or create pick-up and drop-off zones for TNCs, AVs, and freight vehicles.
Curb management: Some on-street parking spaces should be removed in order to accommodate the expected increase in pick-ups and drop-offs associated with TNCs and AVs. For more information on governance strategies for managing the curb, read the Streets & Curbside Management What to Do page.
How will the reduced need for parking caused by the proliferation of new mobility technologies impact urban form?
Designing parking with future changes in mind will give more options for accommodating future uses.
What opportunities exist for the spaces in and around buildings that are currently devoted to parking?
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