By Tim Maloney
THERE’S A LOT OF TALK ABOUT INFRASTRUCTURE in the parking, transportation, and mobility space. We place a great deal of emphasis, and appropriately so, on creating and connecting online and offline systems that provide the best experience for our customers as their expectations for parking continue to climb.
But there’s another, highly important structural layer that we need to be aware of: TDM, short for transportation demand management. With roots in reshaping mainstream urban transport planning in the United States in the 1970s, TDM has in the past few decades increased in its significance and influence in shaping how people navigate cities.
TDM, in short, is a system of people-focused services and programs that educates citizens about existing infrastructure that’s in place for public transit, walking, biking, and rideshare. It incentivizes them to create their own program of sustainable transportation options that make sense for their daily lives. The objectives of TDM include reduced emissions, less congestion, and making cities overall greener, easier to navigate, and better to live in.
It goes without saying that we in parking are on board with making cities smarter and more sustainable. Green mobility initiatives are becoming increasingly important and receiving more attention, and the innovations they’re driving are extremely exciting.
That being said, there’s an undercurrent to TDM that feels almost ominous for our industry. If the goal of TDM is to reduce congestion and emissions, ostensibly making it so there are fewer cars on the road, how could that possibly net positive things for parking?
It’s clear to those of us with a focus on green parking initiatives that driving and parking can be an integral part of every smart city. But how do we make sure that TDM experts see what we see: that parking built on smart facility design, ticketless technology, and other eco-friendly, people-focused innovations does, in fact, fit into their vision?
Being Part of the Dialogue
One of the solutions is to actively make parking a part of the dialogue about smart cities and sustainability. TDM is focused on familiarizing citizens with a framework of efficient, accessible, flexible transportation options—so by bringing our efficient, accessible, flexible parking facilities to the forefront, we can affirm parking’s relevance.
Here are just a few recent green parking initiatives we can promote:
• In 2017, the Garage at Post Office Square in Boston, Mass., implemented a system for pumping underground water directly into a combined stormwater/sewer system that uses it for toilet flushing and garage washdowns. This initiative saves thousands of gallons of water every year.
• Also in 2017, the city of San Francisco, Calif., signed off on a pilot program to use up to 1,000 on-street parking spaces to make car-sharing easier for 140,000 users in San Francisco. Parking plays a key role in reducing congestion.
• In addition to featuring electric vehicle charging, the 1600 Smith Garage in Houston, Texas, integrates alternative modes of urban transit, connecting parking with carpooling, ride-share, car-share, biking and public transportation.
• The Partners HealthCare Garage in Somerville, Mass.—winner of the 2017 IPI Award of Excellence for New Sustainable Parking & Transportation Facilities—features sustainable technologies and design elements such as a comprehensive parking guidance system, LED lighting, and a massive photovoltaic array that powers the garage with sunlight. It also houses spots for more than 100 bikes and an outdoor green space for the community.
By leveraging examples like these, in which parking proves itself compatible with the changing urban landscape, we can become part of the dialogue about smart cities and sustainability. We can be a strong voice in the TDM conversation instead of a parallel discussion TDM experts are having about city driving and parking. It’s up to us not only to keep advancing these initiatives but to increase their visibility, starting conversations with TDM experts and showing them that it’s just as green here as it is on their side of the fence.
TIM MALONEY is head of strategic operator partnerships with SpotHero and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. He can be reached at email@example.com.