Building with LegosBy Brett Wood, CAPP, PE

I’ve been a parking consultant for awhile now and have done my fair share of downtown parking studies. Most of them start with trying to define how many parking spaces are occupied at peak conditions. As I look back at this experience, I cannot recall one downtown parking study where every space was full. In most cases, the downtown (or campus) parking system is usually 50 to 75 percent full in places where there are problems driving the need for the study. These problems tend to be localized to a small area and the perception of the problem is often larger than the real problem. In so many of these cases, I’ve pushed for better and more efficient use of the entire system rather than trying to construct more parking spaces to alleviate a localized perception problem.

While this solution–the concept of sharing public and private parking spaces–is not new, it is becoming a solution we truly need to focus on. Coming into 2020, we were intently focused on how changes in mobility, transport, vehicular autonomy, and demographics might affect the parking we manage and operate. In an instant, our focus switched to longer-term effects of the pandemic: remote work, the economy, and how our cities will look in the years to come. These issues–both pre- and post-pandemic–will drive our communities’ parking systems for years to come. It’s time we start thinking a little differently about how we adapt and evolve.

On August 12, I’ll be leading a webinar for IPMI about Creating Alternatives to Adaptive Reuse. The presentation will focus on how we need to shift our thinking to handle these issues and prepare for the future of our communities. The session will review trends affecting our industry and options for moving forward that include business as usual, building parking with the principles of adaptive reuse, and an alternative approach that focuses on more effective planning and management. Hope you’ll join me to learn how we can shape the future of our communities effectively—click here to register.

Brett Wood, CAPP, PE, is president of Wood Solutions Group.