Parking Smartly and Alternative Uses for Metered Parking Spaces

Car parking and specifically, parking spaces, have been getting a fair bit of attention lately in Ohio and beyond.  San Francisco recently launched “SFPark” a web-based system that enables smartphone users to find available parking in real time.  The sensors that provide information on open and filled spots are also helping the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to determine high-use and underused areas.  With this information, SFMTA can adjust meter pricing to incentive drivers to utilize (cheaper) spots away from the high-use streets.  Although the initial investments for this pilot project have been expensive (a $19.8 million grant from US Department of Transportation), the long term savings of improved traffic flow will result in reduced gas consumption and emissions from circling cars, and a likely increased use in public transit to high-use, high priced, areas.  Most importantly, this system allows San Francisco to more effectively use the resources they have already, and reduces the need to build more parking in the urban core—an aggregated cost that likely would be much higher than the price of the pilot. Closer to home, cities throughout Ohio will be participating in PARK(ing) Day on Friday September 16th.  PARK(ing) Day is a worldwide event where artists and citizens use metered parking spaces for temporary public art spaces.  The event uses DIY art installations to “call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.”  Whereas SFPark works to make the existing parking infrastructure more efficient, PARK(ing) Day raises questions about the infrastructure itself and suggests that public space can be used for more than just car parking.  Here in Greater Ohio’s homebase, Columbus, high school and college art students can register their PARK(ing) Day spot for a public art competition.

Revitalizing our cities and using land in intelligent and economically competitive ways means that parking will always be part of the conversation. 

The original PARK, a public art installation set up for two hours at a San Francisco parking meter in 2005.  Photo courtesy of Rebar Art and Design Studio.