Flexibility and COVID-19

COVID-19 parking transportation curbBy Mark Lyons, CAPP     

Albert Einstein said the measure of intelligence is the ability to change. The demand for changes in mobility programs as a result of COVID-19 are enough to make any good mobility professional more flexible than taffy on hot day. I know you’re probably more than done with hearing about C-19 issues. And, yes, there are still many hurdles to cross before we can feel like it was before and getting back to the new “normal.” But for a minute, could we start to look back and realize that in very short order, our industry pros became central in the planning and recovery of our local microcosm?

Look at some of the stories where parking directors have yielded, albeit temporarily, the demand for paid meters and citations, instead posting signage to help local business preserve parking near their doors to encourage shoppers to continue honoring local services. Think about the number of streets and parking spaces that have been cut off so restaurants could bring seating outside to the customer. Loading zones have been extended to improve delivery logistics. Many cities and universities enhanced parking rates or time restrictions to ensure customers were not dissuaded from engaging local businesses. Many of us modified citation collections schedules and fees to provide relief during this period, when so many workers lost jobs.

There are many stories that could be talked about for days, but can we now take a moment to bask in our collective efforts to help our communities? Our professional parking and mobility pros have worked as integral partners with city engineers, planners, police departments, universities, city managers, and business associations and districts, and continue to support local businesses.

I hope our mobility community is no longer considered a distraction or viewed as an opponent of the business community. The next time somebody tells us that paid parking programs scare their customers away, remind them how flexible our industry was during the pandemic and of the hours we’ve spent contemplating how to help our local businesses, as well as the concessions that were made to help keep dreams alive.

If what Albert Einstein said is true, then congratulations team! Not only are you very smart, but you’ve made us all look great in the process!

Mark Lyons, CAPP, is parking division manager with the City of Sarasota, Fla.