Tag Archives: TPP article

The California City Embracing the Future of EVs

By Taylor Kim, AIA, LEED AP

HOME TO ELECTRIC VEHICLE (EV) PIONEER TESLA, it is no surprise that the city of Palo Alto, Calif., leads the nation in electric vehicle sales at nearly 30 percent of new cars sold. As the city has embraced this technology and its role as an EV am­bassador, it has enacted some of the most robust EV parking requirements in the country.

In 2014, Palo Alto established itself as a pioneer of EV legislation when it passed a first-of-its-kind law that required new homes, apartments, office buildings, and hotels to be wired for EV charging. To encour­age adoption, the city offered a variety of incentives such as free EV charging; a $30,000 rebate to offices and residential complexes that install chargers; and a streamlined permit process for residential EV parking. The city’s current goal is to have 6,000 residential EVs by 2020 and 19,000 by 2030. This proactive legisla­tion has proven remarkably successful; Palo Alto’s EV charging spaces are currently at around 40 percent occupancy.

The Cost
Providing this much EV infrastructure comes at a high cost. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a single level 2 charging station—Palo Alto’s standard—can cost up to $65,000 with an additional $12,700 for installation. EV charging points also lead to an in­crease in electricity demand; Palo Alto projects a 6 to 7 percent increase when EVs dominate the automobile market. However, when this infrastructure is includ­ed during initial construction verses a future retrofit, much of the cost can be mitigated.

Armed with this knowledge, when Palo Alto needed more public parking to support a new public safety building planned for downtown, the city saw an opportunity to invest in the electrical future they wished to achieve. When the new California Avenue parking structure opens in 2020, 25 percent of the 630 parking spaces will be wired for EV charging, with 5 percent, or 32 spaces, accessible on its first day of operation. The remaining 125 spaces will have wiring in place so that charging stations can be installed in the future.

Such ambitious EV requirements pose unique design challenges to accommodate the increase in both electrical capacity and load. The transformer at the California Avenue Garage had to be upsized to be able to accommodate chargers for 125 future EV spaces. To lessen the overall power demand, 95 percent of the EV spaces in the facility will use power-sharing dual chargers. When two cars are plugged into a dual charger, each will receive 50 percent power, which will decrease the electrical requirements by almost half of that used by single chargers.

Providing sufficient EV accessibility requires careful consideration as well. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not provide a national standard when it comes to EV, but the state of California has stringent requirements when it comes to EV accessibility. For the California Avenue Garage, this means the number of required EV accessible charging spaces is calcu­lated based on the facility’s total number of charging stations rather than the total number of accessible spaces, increasing the number of accessible spaces re­quired. Providing the additional spaces and clearances to accommodate this can in turn affect the overall stall count and efficiency.

When the new California Avenue parking structure opens in 2020, 25 percent of the 630 parking spaces will be wired for EV charging, with 5 percent, or 32 spaces, accessible on its first day of operation. The remaining 125 spaces will have wiring in place so that charging stations can be installed in the future.

Looking Ahead
As demand for EV charging continues to increase, effi­cient utilization of charging infrastructure will become more and more important. Cars that monopolize spaces long after they are done charging mean less charging for others who need it. For example, when someone parks in an EV charging space on an office campus, that person isn’t likely to move his or her car when it is finished charging so someone else can use the space. That means a single space may only charge one car throughout the workday. To address this, some Palo Alto office campuses, such as Facebook, use EV valets who unplug a car once it is fully charged and move the cable to the next car.

Such adaptations are critical to the development of EV infrastructure and important to bear in mind when consider­ing the projected future of EVs in the United States. While EV sales currently make up only 2 percent of the national market share, by 2025 that number is expected to increase to 7 per­cent, with around 1.1 million EVs sold. Other automakers are also hopping on the EV bandwagon. According to Bloomberg, the number of EV models on the market is predicted to dou­ble by 2022. Palo Alto’s accomplishments and dedication to promoting EVs and providing EV infrastructure can help us better understand how to prepare for an electrified future.

Read the article here.

TAYLOR KIM, AIA, LEED AP, is a project manager at Watry Design and a member of IPMI’s Sustainability Committee.. She can be reached at tkim@watrydesign.com.


The Parking Professional: HOW the and WHY the

By David Mepham, PhDTPP how the why the

Rethinking parking,  the Main Street place and access experience, and where we go from here.

THE RISE AND RISE OF AMAZON AND ONLINE SHOPPING has trans­formed the way we consume. This trend can be contrasted with the demise of traditional shopping and face-to-face trading. Despite these trends, some Main Street shopping centers are not only surviving but thriving.
Above and beyond the provision of day-to-day goods and services, successful Main Street shopping centers offer an exceptional place and access experience. There is often a notable point of difference, along with a cultural edge, between successful centers and their competitors. The ones that do well are walkable places that invite people to both wander and linger, with places to relax and watch the world go by. These places offer interest­ing, unique goods and services with great food and beverages. Accessibility, including car parking and the local walk environment, is central to this ex­ceptional Main Street place and access experience.

While parking is important to accessibility, there are many ways in which it can detract from place quality. Thinking only about parking and cars rather than places and people, we end up with places that are easy to get to but there is nowhere to go or reason to stay. We find poorly designed and located car parking options with inadequate signage, avoidable right-of-way conflicts, and associated congestion. Creating attractive, accessible places requires a holistic approach to the parking experience and this must include safe, comfortable walking access.

Starting the Experience

The parking experience starts when we begin to contemplate our destination and mode choice. There are time and cost considerations, including who we are travelling with and our primary and second­ary activity objectives. Over and above our day-to-day travel grind, when we have the time and money, we are more inclined to go out with others. Shopping trips eas­ily take on a social dimension and are likely to involve the consumption of leisure. People love to spend money when they are having fun with friends.
While weighing parking options, we must consider a range of decisions. These include the ease of the ap­proach to the center, consideration of available or desir­able parking options, how we locate and then enter a car park, and actually parking our car, including the ease and legibility of paying for parking. Finally, the walk experi­ence between the car park and the center is considered.

Thinking or Feeling

So we leave home and drive to the center. Driving anywhere involves dealing with other drivers and inevitably some level of congestion and delay and then stress. Stress can distort our judgment and compro­mise our driving behavior. Car accidents are the main cause of serious injury to pedestrians and cyclists, with particular risks at crossings and corners.

Seeking parking in the center can be a particularly stressful experience, especially during busy periods when we have to compete with others for parking. Competition with a sense of urgency can bring out a less friendly side to our personality, sometimes ag­gression or even bullying. Under pressure to win or just to survive in a car parking/cage fight, our ratio­nal brain can flip very quickly into the more emotive/instinctive mode—it’s no surprise that some unbe­lievable stuff happens in parking garages and lots. Minimizing and relieving parking anxiety is one of the challenges for those involved in the provision and design of parking in busy centers. Good design and good information, early and accurate, are important in addressing this problem.

A range of parking options may be available in the center, each with its own costs and benefits. On- or off-street? Center or edge? Structure or at-grade? Public or private? Paid or unpaid? There are then the related issues of safety, comfort, surveillance/security, dura­tion, convenience, and amenities. So many decisions and so little information!
Directional signage is useful as we approach the center, but in the center itself and at the car park entry, it provides insufficient information and may direct drivers into full car parks, increasing local conges­tion, stress, and driver anxiety. Real-time wayfinding signage with mobile phone apps help us locate actual, available on-street or off-street parking. Real-time information reduces cruising and local traffic con­gestion and opens up our parking options depending on how much we want to pay and how long we want to stay. Less stress and less cruising with better, safer driving reduces risk and increases safety and comfort for pedestrians.

Rethinking Main Street Parking

On-street, Main Street parking is highly visible, acces­sible, and in high demand. The Main Street needs to provide access for on-street transit and delivery vehi­cles that need shorter-term parking. Typically, short-term parking supports hit-and-run shopping. High vehicle turnover from short-term parking with more complex vehicle movements often creates delays and congestion, with increased risk to cyclists and pedes­trians in the center. Demand-responsive parking pric­ing can spread the peak parking load to other streets, freeing up space.

On-street parking technologies with complemen­tary policies and equitable pricing enable a rethinking of the Main Street place function. By shifting some of the demand for on-street, Main Street parking to other nearby streets, there is an opportunity to socialize and green the Main Street.

Occasional buildouts into parking spaces shift seating and outdoor dining from the footpath to dedi­cated space enhanced with landscaping, art, trees, and shade. Buildouts also enable safer mid-block crossing points with high visibility holding space and a shorter road crossing. Less clutter on footpaths enables an improved level of service for pedestrians that is eas­ier and offers more comfortable walk access in peak times and at busy points, such as corners and crossing points. Uncluttered footpaths provide safe space for people with disabilities, ease for people with strollers and children, and a better walking and shopping expe­rience for everyone.
Rethinking Off-street Parking

Off-street parking provides for longer stays and time to shop, eat, drink, relax, and socialize. It also pro­vides easier access for people with disabilities and for people with children and strollers. Off-street parking may provide shorter term, high-turnover options in high-access areas closer to shops or services. When off-street parking is accessed from arterial roads, unnecessary Main Street congestion can be avoided. Vehicle access to parking via connecting side streets or laneways from the Main Street creates right-of-way conflicts with footpath traffic, especially at cor­ners where pedestrians are most likely to be injured by turning cars.

By restricting vehicle traffic through connecting side streets and laneways, there is an opportunity to create attractive, green, animated, and inclusive public places for social and community activities, cafes, restaurants, or bars, along with play places for kids, big and small. These places may evolve out of temporary, pop-up closures that will let planners understand impacts and enable informed community and business consultation. These can evolve to be the multi-functional spaces that are often missing from Main Street shopping centers.

Side streets and laneways may also function as the key connections to rail transit. In Melbourne, Austra­lia, rail lines often run adjacent to Main Streets, and smaller, less trafficked cross streets connect rail to Main Street buses. Parking and rail stations are often accessed via these connecting streets.

Increasing Place Quality

A good walking experience is a key element of a great part-of-the-journey parking experience, and it’s one we often overlook in planning for parking. This may be a case of 1 + 1 = 3: Pedestrian traffic to and from stations and car parking animates the place, supports social and economic activity, and increases the sense of safety both during the day and at night.

At-grade, off-street car parking can easily degrade place quality but with a more creative view of the site, you can alternately add something positive to the space. They may be seen as land banks for future development, especially where land adjoins a transit station. If park­ing is paid, a business case may exist for a higher quality parking structure, ideally mixed-use with an activat­ed street level—maybe with a giant art or green wall. Where at-grade parking is a longer-term preference, it is reasonable to consider larger trees, stormwater management, and water-sensitive urban design with complementary gardens to filter runoff. Solar panels can support onsite electric-charging stations and might double up as weather protection on dedicated walk paths with local area traffic management and security lighting and closed-circuit television cameras.

Paid parking typically supports the provision of higher quality parking outcomes. If the user is not pay­ing, then who is and why? It seems reasonable to in­dependently access the cost/benefit of unpaid public parking to properly understand the real costs and then consider higher and better outcomes. We know there really is no such thing as free parking; what we really don’t know is the cost of a poor parking experience on the overall place experience.

Parking, Place, and Accessibility

When we think about parking, we often fail to con­sider the effects of car park planning and design decisions on the wider place/access experience. I’m interested in how parking can enhance the place ex­perience. How can we make places better and safer for pedestrians, attractive places, “sticky” places, and places that balance a vibrant local economy with in­clusive social and community activities? We should consider how parking space might be more flexible in the shorter and longer terms and how parking can be cleaner, greener, and smarter.

Developments with parking technologies, transport technologies, artificial intelligence, electric cars and buses, shared cars, bikes, and other transportation modes with a range of environmental, economic, and social changes and challenges are catalysts for a re­think of parking and mobility, place, and accessibility. The question is how can we, as parking professionals, encourage these healthy, vibrant accessible places and stay one step ahead of Amazon?

Read the article here.

DAVID MEPHAM, PhD, is an urban access consultant based in Melbourne, Australia. He can be reached at mepham.consulting@gmail.com.