Morphing Our Mobility Mindset

People boarding a GRCW train at night.By Casey Jones, CAPP

In October 2018, the International Parking Institute changed its name to include mobility. “Our broadened name signifies changes in the industry and what is happening in the larger sphere, where mobility is emerging as a more inclusive term for the expanding role of parking professionals,” said IPMI CEO Shawn Conrad, CAE, at the time of the change.“We feel the new name provides an umbrella that incorporates parking and mobility and thus will better serve our members by ensuring future opportunities for growth.”

To most of us, mobility pertains specifically to mode of travel and it’s now fully expected that parking professionals also deliver or actively support bicycle, scooter, and public transportation alternatives to driving. The more we do of this, the more we achieve the growth our sage friend Mr. Conrad talked about a few years ago. As much progress as we’ve made in name and in action, I suggest that it’s possible our mindset about mobility hasn’t changed enough and should expand further to fully embrace our role in promoting social and economic mobility.

One incredible example comes from Portland, Ore., where an open design competition was held to generate ideas about how to repurpose old light rail cars. Rail cars originally put in service in 1986 were headed to the dump when Portland State University and the city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability stepped in to launch the MAX (Metro Area Express) Reuse Design Challenge to find a way to repurpose the equipment and serve underserved communities. Read more about the project that aims at “reconstruct the models to offer food, hygiene, and therapy for these experiencing homelessness” here.

Our definition of mobility and our role in promoting it need to expand to include more than just modes of travel. We have an opportunity to play an expanding role in addressing social and economic issues through creativity and a commitment to service. We don’t always need to lead these efforts but accepting responsibility for more than just transportation solutions will allow us to grow and will better serve the communities within which we work.

Casey Jones, CAPP, is senior parking and mobility planner with DESMAN.